It happened: Someone on a large cruise ship in Juneau has tested positive for COVID-19

The Celebrity Millennium anchored near downtown Juneau on Monday, July 26, 2021. City officials confirmed that a passenger on board was infected with COVID-19 — the first case in Alaska on a large cruise ship since cruising resumed in 2021. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

A City and Borough of Juneau official confirmed on Monday that one vaccinated person from the cruise ship Celebrity Millennium was found to be infected with COVID-19 over the weekend. The ship is in port in Juneau and is scheduled to be in Skagway Tuesday morning.

Deputy city manager Robert Barr says the individual did not circulate in Juneau as a tourist, but will leave the capital city by air ambulance. The city is working with the cruise lines and the state’s health department to respond.

“I think that we were never expecting the cruise season to be entirely COVID free,” Barr said. “Because even though the cruise ships are highly vaccinated, we again know that vaccines are not perfect, and that they will rely on herd immunity.”

Barr says vaccines are nonetheless the most effective way to combat the spread of the virus. He said he’s heartened that nearly 80% of Juneau’s eligible population has now had a first shot.

There will be no immediate changes to the city’s health guidelines. Barr says there is no hard and fast threshold where Juneau would restrict ships into port, but does plan to examine that question on a case-by-case basis.

Barr says he is confident in the city’s partnership with the cruise industry and state health department to ensure a safe season despite occasional cases.

Claire Stremple

Alaska News Reporter, KTOO

I believe every Alaskan has a right to timely information about their health and health systems, and their natural environment and its management. My goal is to report thoughtful stories that inform, inspire and quench the curiosity of listeners across the state.

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