1st coronavirus case in Southeast Alaska reported in Ketchikan

Downtown Ketchikan. (Photo by Leila Kheiry/KRBD)

Update (Tuesday, March 17, 7:20 p.m.) — Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

In a Tuesday evening news conference, Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink announced that there are three new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska, bringing the total number of cases to six. Along with the case in Ketchikan, there is one new case in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks. (Read more)

Original story

The Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center reported a positive test for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The individual who tested positive has a history of travel to the Lower 48, the operations center said in a written statement.

“Upon experiencing symptoms of illness, the individual self-isolated and sought testing through a Ketchikan clinic. The individual is an employee of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough,” the statement said.

The borough said it has hired a commercial service for a thorough disinfection of the entirety of the White Cliff Building, the borough’s headquarters, including the outside areas of the building.

“Borough employees in direct contact with the individual will be self-isolating for a period of no less than 14 days. Employees who were not in contact with the individual may return to work sooner,” the borough’s statement said.

This is the fourth positive test for coronavirus in Alaska in a week. Two men who traveled out of state tested positive Monday in Fairbanks. The first case was announced Thursday in Anchorage. That patient was a cargo pilot who had recently arrived in the city.

This new case in Ketchikan is the first reported case in Southeast Alaska.

“We will be working with Alaska (Division of) Public Health and ensuring that we get word out to the public that we have a confirmed case,” Abner Hoage, Ketchikan emergency manager and fire chief, said Monday evening.

The state will begin contacting everyone who came in contact with the man, Hoage said.

KRBD-Ketchikan reporter Eric Stone contributed to this story.

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