Girdwood gathering leads to 5 COVID cases and concerns of more to come

Ski runs at Alyeska Resort overlook Girdwood, a community of about 2,000 within the Municipality of Anchorage.. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Five people who attended a private gathering in Girdwood earlier this month have tested positive for COVID-19 and may have infected others, according to the Anchorage Health Department.

Contact tracers believe that some of the attendees also participated in another event a week later, the city’s chief medical officer said.

“We have serious concern about the events in Girdwood,” Dr. Bruce Chandler said Friday. “I think it’s likely we’re going to see more and more cases coming out of that
community.”

He also outlined the facts of the June 5 and June 11 events in a letter to Girdwood’s Board of Supervisors.  

The city is now monitoring about 44 people associated with the gatherings. Two dozen live in Girdwood. Others live in Anchorage and Kenai.

Some of the attendees reported symptoms of COVID-19, but declined to be tested, Chandler said.

“We encourage people to get tested,” Chandler said. “But even if you’d never get tested, the recommendation is still the same, that you need to isolate.”

City officials did not describe what kind of private gathering it was. Health Department Director Natasha Pineda said it involved multiple events and was mostly outdoors.

“In these gatherings, there wasn’t a use of masks,” Pineda said. “There was no adherence to physical distancing. Those kinds of things are high-risk behaviors in this current situation.”

Wearing masks and physically distancing matters, even outdoors, she said.

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The Girdwood Fire Station closed its doors to the public Friday in response to the concern about community transmission, the station wrote in a Facebook post.

Alaska Public Media reporter Liz Ruskin contributed to this story.