As weekend test results start to roll in, outbreak among Juneau’s bar workers grows

People, masked and unmasked, wander through downtown on Saturday, September 5, 2020 in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)
People, masked and unmasked, wander through downtown on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, in Juneau. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)


Update | 7:22 p.m.

At least 31 people have gotten sick with COVID-19 after a single indoor event in late August. 

The outbreak, which has heavily impacted people who work in bars in Juneau prompted city officials to close bars for indoor service and reduce restaurants to half-capacity. 

Juneau City Manager Rorie Watt said city officials were pushed into that decision by information about how many new cases had been diagnosed. 

“If it feels heavy-handed that we issued an emergency order on Friday, I can only tell you we felt like we had no choice,” he said.

Watt and Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove spoke during a Tuesday COVID-19 update that Juneau city officials hold weekly. 

Test results from a weekend pop-up testing site at Centennial Hall targeted toward people who have been going to bars in Juneau are just beginning to roll in. Cosgrove said there was a delay at the state testing lab that processes the city’s tests, but that has been fixed. 

She also gave an update on the city’s latest COVID-19 case numbers; there were 13 new cases identified on Tuesday. 

So far, the city has had 252 residents and 98 non-residents test positive for the virus since March. City officials report that three people are currently at Bartlett Regional Hospital being treated for the virus. 

Watt said the COVID-19 outbreak among bar staff in Juneau is “a cautionary tale of how quickly things can go in the wrong direction.” 

Both Watt and Cosgrove said residents have to be vigilant and should avoid others who aren’t in their social bubble. 

“You really can’t let your guard down,” Watt said.


Original story

The City and Borough of Juneau’s weekly community update is at 4 p.m. today.

City Manager Rorie Watt and other members of the city’s emergency operations center will provide information about the COVID-19 response in Juneau and answer questions. This week, CBJ Election Official Beth McEwen will give an update on the upcoming municipal election.

Community members can submit questions to

Juneau has seen a surge in new cases reported over the past few weeks, and the city recently closed indoor service in bars and reduced restaurants to half-capacity.

Watch on Zoom, Facebook Live or here once the meeting is live. You can also call the city to listen by phone by calling 1-346-248-7799 or 1-669-900-6833 or 1-253-215-8782, webinar ID 985 6308 5159.

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