City gives new warnings about bars and explains why it’s naming them

The Anchorage Health Department in downtown Anchorage. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

Patrons of the Blue Fox Cocktail Lounge and Eddie’s Sports Bar who visited on July 2 may have been exposed to COVID-19, the Anchorage Office of Emergency Management said late Thursday in a release.

The hospitality industry pushed back last week, after a previous release listed a number of businesses and gave the dates when there had been COVID-19 exposure for staff and patrons. In its most recent release, the city explained that identifying the bars was part of its contact tracing process and gave the criteria and procedures for identifying businesses where there has been exposure. The contact tracing process has been stretched thin recently as the number of active cases in the city continues to grow daily by double digits.

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The city said that a location rises to the level of requiring a public notification when “a person with COVID-19 spends more than 15 minutes, while infectious in an indoor space, in which:

  • More than 10 people other than household members were present;
  • Physical distancing and wearing of face coverings were not or could not be universally followed; and
  • All people at the location cannot be identified or contacted because:
    • the location did not maintain a log of everyone present during the exposure period
    • the location log is illegible or incomplete
    • the person with COVID-19 is unable or unwilling to identify close contacts.
  • If AHD lacks capacity to conduct the contact tracing in a timely manner.”

Both locations were notified about the exposure date and about being added to a list of businesses where patrons and staff have been exposed to the virus. If there are no cases within 10 days of the exposure date, the city said, the bars will be removed from the list.

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When a business is associated with an active COVID-19 infection, the city calls and notifies it of the date of exposure, gives the business an “exposure notice” sign that must be displayed and sanitization instructions. The city also asks for a log of the names and numbers of people present, which is required. If the log is maintained, the city will use it to help with contact tracing.

Both the bars from Thursday’s release are cooperating with the city’s instructions.

The city health department “is aware of cases associated with a variety of businesses, agencies, and organizations. If a location meets the criteria outlined above, AHD will release a public exposure notice,” the release said.