Alaska Psychiatric Institute has its first COVID-19 case

Alaska Psychiatric Institute (Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)

An employee at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute has tested positive for COVID-19. It’s the first case that the state has publicly tied to the Anchorage psychiatric hospital.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced the case in a statement Thursday. It said the employee became sick last Wednesday, took a COVID-19 test and hasn’t returned to the hospital since.

“No other staff or patients have shown symptoms of the disease,” the statement said. “The employee took excellent precautions to minimize the risk of exposure.”

New patient admissions to API will be on hold for at least the next 72 hours, according to the statement. API is the state’s only inpatient psychiatric hospital. 

The health department counted the case in its report Thursday of 75 new COVID-19 infections: 65 Alaskans and 10 nonresidents. The number of infections reported daily has continued to surge in Alaska in recent days, and hospitals say they’re seeing an increase in patients with coronavirus symptoms in emergency rooms.

At API, leadership found out about the positive COVID-19 case Wednesday afternoon and began notifying their colleagues and contractors, said the health department. API is also working with the state to trace the person’s recent contacts to try to contain the disease’s spread.

The state says API has had additional safety measures in place for months to try to keep COVID-19 out including mask requirements and health screenings.

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