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New case in Juneau involves hospital patient as city enacts ‘hunker down’ mandate

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A new confirmed case of COVID-19 in Juneau involves someone hospitalized in a critical care unit, local officials said in a statement Tuesday, bringing the state’s confirmed total to 42.

The announcement came as Juneau residents were told to “hunker down" and stay at home as much as possible to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Juneau officials said the person involved in the new case had traveled to the Lower 48, according to state epidemiology officials who believe this was how the person contracted the illness caused by the new coronavirus. The individual is currently at Bartlett Regional Hospital, which said they had traveled to Portland, Oregon, as well as Washington state, according to Juneau officials.

This is the second confirmed case in Alaska’s capital city. The person at the center of the first case is isolated at home, and state health officials believe that case was the result of travel within Alaska, Juneau officials said.

The City and Borough of Juneau adopted a resolution Monday mandating that residents “hunker down," similar to an emergency order enacted in Anchorage. Exceptions include working in a critical job, getting essential items or health care or getting fresh air outside. Businesses deemed not essential were ordered to close to the public.

The Juneau resolution takes effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday and lasts until 10 p.m. April 7.

The Juneau Assembly adopted a resolution mandating people in the City and Borough of Juneau to hunker down. The...

Posted by City and Borough of Juneau on Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Elsewhere in Southeast Alaska, Ketchikan officials announced two new confirmed COVID-19 cases there Tuesday.

The two people who tested positive for the coronavirus in Ketchikan were processed through Creekside Family Medical Clinic, according to an online statement from city and borough officials. They are self-isolating, and public health officials are working to investigate their contacts.

Neither of the two infected people had recently traveled, the statement said.

Ketchikan officials urged the public to take the virus seriously. There are now eight confirmed cases in the city and borough of nearly 14,000 people.

“At the current rate of spread, Ketchikan could have over 400 positive cases of COVID-19 by the end of the week,” the statement said. “If we all do our part, we can reduce that number dramatically and contain the spread.”

The borough issued an emergency proclamation that calls for residents to shelter in place.

Ketchikan had its first confirmed COVID-19 case reported on March 17.

The mayor of Fairbanks, where two more positive cases were confirmed Tuesday, issued an emergency declaration and urged residents to stay home and away from public places unless absolutely necessary. The city council will vote to ratify the declaration at a meeting March 30.

“I’ve spent many hours in the recent days hearing from local physicians, and the situation in Fairbanks is very serious. The number of confirmed positive cases does not reflect the full picture. Every resident needs to do their part to protect themselves, their families, and the community,” Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly said in a statement. "If your family needs groceries, only send one person to the store. Check in on those considered high risk; help those ones stay home by going to the grocery store or pharmacy for them. I am imploring the community to take this seriously and stay home.”

There were 42 confirmed cases statewide as of Tuesday afternoon, including 17 in Anchorage, eight in Ketchikan, nine in Fairbanks, two in Mat-Su, two in Sterling, two in Juneau, one in Seward and one in Soldotna.