April 5, 2020: The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) today announced one new death and 14 new cases of COVID-19 in four Alaska communities – Anchorage (4), Fairbanks (7), Juneau (2) and Seward (1). This brings the total case count in Alaska to 185.
These new cases and the new death were reported from 12:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on April 4 and reflect data posted at noon today on coronavirus.alaska.gov. This new reporting schedule for Alaska’s COVID-19 cases began on Thursday with the rollout of a new data dashboard.
The person who died is a 71-year-old Anchorage resident who acquired the infection outside of Alaska, tested positive on March 28 and had been hospitalized in state. The patient had preexisting health conditions.
Also of note today is that one of the Anchorage cases is a staff member at the McLaughlin Youth Center (MYC) within the DHSS Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Since learning of the positive test result, DJJ Director Tracy Dompeling has been in close contact with the Alaska Section of Epidemiology and the Anchorage Health Department to facilitate contact investigations. DJJ is implementing all recommended and necessary protective measures for both staff and residents.
“We express our condolences to the family and loved ones of the Anchorage resident who died and is included in our case count today. Our thoughts are with them,” said DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum. “Regarding the situation at McLaughlin, please know DJJ is working closely with state and local public health officials to ensure that MYC residents, staff and anyone who may have been in contact with this positive case is aware of this situation and knows what we plan to do.”
Because all of the DJJ facilities around Alaska are 24-hour facilities, operations cannot cease and all employees cannot be sent home to telecommute. Additional measures being taken to safely staff the facility at this time include:
•Bringing in state and local public health officials to assist with testing and contact investigations.
•Prioritized testing for staff and clients.
•Sending home staff members from the affected unit who likely had contact with the individual who tested positive.
DHSS remains committed to protecting the health and safety of staff and residents at all DJJ facilities. Since March 27, before this positive case occurred, DJJ had already suspended in-person visitation for family members and religious volunteers, providing visitation and services through electronic means. Other measures already in place at the facility include frequent handwashing, routine disinfection of high-touch surfaces and encouraging staff members who are sick to stay home.
Of the new cases from yesterday that are reported today, five are male and nine are female. Two cases are aged 10-19, three are aged 30-39, one is aged 40-49, three are aged 50-59, three are aged 60-69 and two are aged 70-79. A total of 20 people cumulatively have ever been hospitalized in Alaska; four new hospitalizations have been added in the past 24-hour reporting period.