More nonresident seafood workers test positive

Recoveries increase to 502, including 27 recuperated over three-day period

Flags displayed on a fishing vessel docked in Cordova. (June 5, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

COVID-19 case numbers rose sharply this week, including the addition of a dozen nonresident seafood workers in Dillingham and two more in Cordova. All 14 are isolated in quarantine on the respective campuses of the seafood firms employing them.

The Cordova Medical Response Team and OBI Seafoods, the new company created by the recent merger of Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Icicle Seafoods, identified two cases of nonresident seafood workers now isolated on the seafood company’s closed campus.

“We do not have any reason to believe these positive cases pose a risk to Cordova residents at this time,” the city of Cordova said in a statement issued on Tuesday, June 23. “We are in the process of testing all close contacts of the individuals, as well as the small number of employees that interact with the community.”

Cordova officials also reminded residents to take personal responsibility for their own health by eating healthy, exercising and following pandemic guidelines.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Tuesday, June 23, reported 35 new cases, 16 of them residents of eight communities, as well as 19 newly infected nonresidents.

Those cases pushed the statewide total to 778 patients, plus 129 nonresident cases.

The number of recoveries rose to 502 individuals, with 11 newly recovered on June 22. Hospitalizations rose by one to 63 and the death toll stayed at 12.

In Dillingham, where the population is swelling in advance of the multi-million-dollar Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery, city officials issued a statement on Monday, June 22, saying that the 12 out-of-state seafood workers who tested positive were moved into separate isolation facilities within OBI Seafoods’ closed campus. City officials were working with area and state health officials on contact tracing.

“While we are always concerned to hear about positive cases of COVID-19 in Dillingham, the protection plans in place caught these cases during quarantine and are helping to prevent community spread,” said Dillingham Mayor Alice Ruby.

The 16 new state resident cases reported on June 23 include nine in Anchorage, and one each in Bethel, Fairbanks, Girdwood, Homer, the combined Hoonah-Angoon census area and Yakutat Borough, Nome and Palmer.  Also added to the data dashboard was a case in Wasilla identified on June 21.

Nonresident cases, in addition to the 12 in Dillingham, and two in Cordova, include two seafood industry workers in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, two in the mining industry in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and one visitor to the municipality of Anchorage.

A total of 92,947 tests for COVID-19 have now been conducted in Alaska. The average percentage of daily positive tests for the three days previous to June 22, is 0.96 percent.

Updates on the impact of COVID-19 are posted online daily at coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com