The 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.
“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 health department and state epidemiologists have begun contact tracing in an attempt to prevent further spread. 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.