Anchorage Pioneer Home resident with COVID-19 dies

Flowers of different colors in front of the beige Anchorage Pioneer Home buildgin
The Anchorage Pioneer Home in July 2020 (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

A resident at the Anchorage Pioneer Home who tested positive for COVID-19 has died, the state health department said on Wednesday. 

The death comes as the Pioneer Home works to contain a cluster of infections among a vulnerable population. The facility provides assisted-living care to Alaskans age 65 and older.

By Wednesday, a total of 14 residents and four staff members had tested positive for the virus, said Clinton Bennett, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. 

Two of the residents were hospitalized, including the one who died recently, Bennett said. He declined to provide additional information about the person and the death, citing federal patient privacy laws.

Bennett said eight infected residents remain isolated at the Pioneer Home and four have recovered. One staff member remains in isolation, and the other three are considered recovered, Bennett said. 

In total, the health department has linked 37 Alaskans’ deaths to COVID-19 since March, including a new death reported in state data on Wednesday. The department said a woman from Anchorage in her 40s died. It also reported four deaths the day before.

It’s unclear when the Pioneer Home resident died, Bennett declined to provide the information because of privacy laws.

The state also reported a total of 53 more COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, all but one of the newly-diagnosed are Alaskans. About half of the cases are tied to Anchorage.

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At the Pioneer Home in Anchorage, regular COVID-19 testing will continue for residents and staff, Bennett said.

The facility has remained closed to visitors since mid-March. It identified its first COVID-19 infection Aug. 5.

Across the country, COVID-19 has been particularly deadly in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that serve older adults. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that older people are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19, and the virus can spread more easily in areas where people live in a confined space.

Earlier this year, an outbreak at the Providence Transitional Care Center in Anchorage led to more than 40 infections and two deaths.

RELATED: How Providence workers fought to contain ‘lightning speed’ coronavirus at site of Alaska’s largest outbreak

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

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