At an Anchorage seafood processor, more than a third of employees test positive for COVID-19

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

Anchorage Health Department announced on Friday that 56 of 134 employees at the Copper River Seafoods plant in Anchorage tested positive for COVID-19 between July 17 and July 22.

Thirty more employees have tests pending and 14 have not been tested. Nearly all are residents of the municipality, the department said.

According to the city it’s likely that community spread has already begun from this cluster of cases. The health department and the state Section of Epidemiology are beginning contact tracing in an attempt to prevent further spread.

“This is a concerning situation for the people of Anchorage,” Dr. Bruce Chandler, Anchorage’s chief medical officer, said in a statement on Friday. “With so many workers now testing positive, it is likely that this outbreak has been in progress for some time and that transmission has already occurred among family, friends and others in the community.”

The processing facility was closed for deep cleaning after the first case was identified, according to the statement.

Employees with negative tests will be monitored and tested every three days “until no additional positive cases are identified,” the department said. Employees with negative tests and the household members of employees who tested positive are being asked to quarantine and self-monitor.