Trident may resume Akutan operations

Testing continues, but with the dramatic drop in new positive cases of the novel coronavirus, Trident Seafoods officials say they are moving closer to reopening their facility at Akutan, one of the largest seafood processing facilities in the state.

Company officials said that recent antigen testing results showed no new cases of employees testing positive for COVID-19, while more sensitive PCR lab tests from samples taken earlier this past week indicate two recent positive cases.

From Feb. 3-12, a total of 29 people in isolation onsite at the Akutan plant tested positive or showed symptoms of the virus, officials said. Testing will continue every two to three days until we are confident that the virus has been eradicated from our facility, said Stefanie Moreland, vice president of government relations for Trident. Meanwhile employees who have tested negative to date were to be released from quarantine once the company is sure they have not been exposed to the virus for 14 consecutive days, she said.

Other employees in quarantine in Anchorage were standing by to support Akutan’s restart as soon as testing confirmed the virus had been fully contained, she said.

At other Trident facilities in Alaska, including Kodiak, Sand Point and St. Paul, surveillance testing is being used for early COVID-19 detection, an approach made possible as testing supplies became more available in early February. As of this past week there were no signs of active virus at these locations.

Two of Trident’s large vessels re-quarantined their crews for a second 14-day period after detecting symptoms onboard one of the vessels arriving into Dutch Harbor at the start of the fishing season. Crew from each of these vessels who tested positive since the initial symptomatic individual was identified are in isolation until cleared by time and symptom-based protocols. Pending final testing and screening results, both vessels were scheduled to depart for the Bering Sea by Feb. 14.