The outbreak at a Juneau seafood processor has expanded as Alaska has another record-high COVID-19 count

The COVID-19 outbreak at a local seafood processing plant has expanded. Tests of more than 100 employees at Alaska Glacier Seafoods revealed that 26 more people have the virus, according to a City and Borough of Juneau press release.

Nine employees of the plant tested positive last week. It’s not clear how many of the new cases are residents and how many are non-residents. But they’re all currently in isolation, according to the city.

Not all of the test results have been reported yet from the 113 employees who were tested on Wednesday. According to Robert Barr with Juneau’s Emergency Operations, they are waiting on results from 10 to 15 tests.

Statewide, there were a record 121 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, though Juneau’s 26 new cases are not included in that total. The city reported those before the state did.

That number does include 36 nonresident seafood workers in the Aleutians West Census Area, according to state data.

That area includes the nation’s busiest fishing port of Unalaska, where many seafood processors are based. It is currently unclear where the outbreak was based and whether it was confined to one processor.

Workers remove the bones from salmon fillets at Alaska Glacier Seafoods’ Auke Bay processing plant (Photo by David Purdy/KTOO)

The cases also included 82 resident cases, the second-highest number of residents to test positive in a day.

Anchorage continues to lead the state in the number of cases, with 36 resident cases reported there and four more cases in Eagle River. But the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, which has a population of approximately 5,230, had 10 new cases. That put the area at the top of the average case count over the last week, with an average of 15.8 cases per 100,000 residents.

Fairbanks North Star Borough had nine, and Wasilla had seven, Juneau had four, and other smaller communities making up the rest of the new cases.

And another person was hospitalized as physicians warn that that number is likely to rise in the coming weeks and experts warn that cities could reach hospital capacity sooner than anticipated under current trends. That brings the total number of Alaskans currently hospitalized with COVID-19 to 27, only one of whom is on a ventilator.

While Anchorage has had the bulk of the new cases, Fairbanks has a higher case rate based on population size over the last two weeks, with an average of 9.38 cases per 100,000 people. The Kenai Peninsula Borough, which had seven new cases yesterday, is even higher, with 9.79 cases per 100,000 people.

Note:  A previous version of this story mislabeled the Yukon-Koyukok Census Area.

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