City raises alert after weekend virus outbreak

Howarth: ‘If we don’t stop this now, we will end up in the red’

Cordova Community Medical Center. (Oct. 12, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

The city raised its virus alert level from yellow to orange in response to a cluster of five novel coronavirus cases identified over the Nov. 21-22 weekend. A sixth case, apparently unrelated to the larger cluster, was also identified over the weekend.

Although no businesses or public spaces have been closed by the city, some businesses have found it difficult to operate with many of their workers under quarantine. If virus infection continues to escalate, the city may be forced enact far-reaching shutdowns, Cordova City Manager Helen Howarth said.

“Guys, come on!” Howarth exclaimed. “You have to practice social distancing, wear a mask, don’t gather in large crowds, please, please, please. Because if we don’t stop this now, we will end up in the red… People have to take the rules seriously, because, if they don’t, we’ll find ourselves in a situation where we have to shut the community down. We don’t want to go there.”

Of the 49 cases identified since the start of the pandemic, 39 are presumed recovered as of Monday, Nov. 23. Thirty-five cases have been Cordova residents and 14 have been non-residents. A Mt. Eccles Elementary School second grader tested positive for the virus Tuesday, Nov. 17, prompting a two-week return to online-only instruction for many students. However, no additional cases have been identified in the school system, officials said.

A Cordova resident who was infected with the novel coronavirus died Nov. 18. The deceased individual had been admitted to hospital for non-coronavirus-related end-of-life care, where the virus was detected during screening.

“We have an opportunity to change our trajectory, but people have to follow the CDC guidelines,” Howarth said. “Everyone needs to follow the rules.”

Coronavirus testing is available at Ilanka Community Health Center, Mondays and Fridays from 2-3 p.m., and Saturdays from noon-1 p.m.; and at Cordova Community Medical Center, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9-9:30 a.m. More information can be found at the city of Cordova’s online COVID-19 dashboard.