18 more Alaskans, another nonresident seafood worker test positive for coronavirus, state says


Eighteen more Alaskans have tested positive for the coronavirus, as has another nonresident seafood worker in the Anchorage area, according to the updated tallies posted Wednesday by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

It’s the second day in a row of double-digit case increases for Alaska and follows the state’s highest one-day spike of cases: 27 reported Sunday. The higher case counts come in the weeks after Alaska started relaxing its coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

Nearly all of the cases announced in the last week are in Alaskans from Southcentral.

The state’s daily updates on Alaska’s coronavirus cases reflect data from the day before.

Of the 18 new cases among Alaskans, five of them are from Anchorage, four are from Homer, three are from Wasilla, two are from Eagle River and there is one each from Palmer, Big Lake, Soldotna and a smaller community in the Kenai Peninsula Borough that the state has not named.

Four of the cases Wednesday are tied to the outbreak at the Providence Transitional Care Center in Anchorage. The transitional center reported a total of 25 positive cases among patients and staff by Wednesday afternoon — two more from the day before.

Related: Providence announces 6 more cases at Anchorage transitional care center; state tally grows by 21

The Kenai Peninsula Borough also announced a cluster of cases Wednesday at the Nikiski Fire Department, prompting an entire shift to quarantine themselves.

Of those 11 people in quarantine, three have tested positive for the virus so far, said Brenda Ahlberg, a spokeswoman for the borough.

“What we do know is we had an individual who got testing. I can’t speak to that individual’s motivation, why they felt like they needed to, if they had symptoms,” she said. “I don’t know that. It’s not clear. All I know is that when that individual was tested, it was positive.”

How that person contracted the virus remains under investigation, she said. It led to the testing of the entire department and an investigation into recent contacts.

“We know no patient transports were affected,” Ahlberg said.

The 11 people will remain quarantined for two weeks. Staff from Central Emergency Services and the Kenai Fire Department will help fill in while they’re gone.

The three positive cases have already been counted in the state’s numbers, Ahlberg said.

Get the latest coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska

The state separates its tallies of coronavirus cases into two main categories: residents and nonresidents.

So far, the state has recorded a total of 505 cases among residents, with 373 recoveries. There are 23 cases among nonresidents, 15 of them are seafood industry workers from out of state. A total of 58,183 tests have been conducted — nearly 2,000 more tests from the state’s report on Tuesday.

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink reminded people in a Twitter post on Tuesday that the cases reflect what happened a week or more ago.

“We flattened the curve before Alaska – we can do it again,” the post said. “Our individual sacrifices make a collective difference.”

Ahlberg said Alaskans need to remember that the virus is here, and to continue to take precautions.

“We just need to come back to that grassroots efforts that we started in March,” she said. “If you’re not feeling good, stay home.”

Reach reporter Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@alaskapublic.org or 907-550-8447.