Contact tracing lags as Juneau’s COVID-19 cases add up, including one at an elementary school

Tanner and Amnara Cooper meet the new principal of Sayéik Gastineau Community School during their first day of in-person classes on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)
Tanner and Amnara Cooper meet the new principal of Sayéik Gastineau Community School during their first day of in-person classes on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. During the first week of the new school year in August, someone tested positive for COVID-19 at the school.  (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Staff and parents with children at Sayéik: Gastineau Community School learned on Wednesday that a person at the school has tested positive for COVID-19. According to an email from the district, they’re still working on contact-tracing to figure out who may have been exposed and needs to be isolated. Someone will notify those close contacts and, according to the district, if you haven’t gotten a call you don’t need to quarantine at this time. Classes are continuing to meet as regularly scheduled.  

Juneau city officials reported 32 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

There are no details on how those people caught the virus and that is, in part, because contact tracing is lagging.

Mila Cosgrove, Juneau’s incident commander, says they only got to 50% of the positive COVID-19 cases reported in the last week, partly due to the volume of cases, and partly due to people not returning calls.

Juneau’s Public Health Department is asking that if you get a positive test result and haven’t heard from them, to call 465-3353. They’re also asking that people who test positive notify their close contacts so they can quarantine and get tested. A close contact is anyone, masked or unmasked, that you were within six feet of for more than 15 minutes over a 24 hour period.

There are 168 active cases among Juneau residents, including 9 nonresidents. Three people with COVID-19 are being treated at Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Statewide, the department of health says 647 new people were identified with COVID-19, including 30 nonresidents. They’re also reporting four more deaths — three men from Anchorage and one from Palmer. So far, 404 Alaskans have died during this pandemic.

Rashah McChesney

Daily News Editor, KTOO

I help the newsroom establish daily news priorities and do hands-on editing to ensure a steady stream of breaking and enterprise news for a local and regional audience.

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