Alaska News

Two crew members on state ferry Matanuska test positive for COVID-19 after departing Bellingham

M/V Matanuska

Two members of the engineering crew on the state ferry Matanuska tested positive for COVID-19 on a trip from Washington state to Juneau.

No passengers were identified as close contacts, state officials say.

The ferry was underway from Bellingham to Ketchikan Saturday when one crew member began showing symptoms of the virus, according to a news release from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. The captain, following the ship’s COVID-19 protocols, quarantined the crew member in their cabin with the ventilation system turned off.

The crew member tested positive for the virus at Ketchikan Hospital, the state transportation department said. They are isolating at a hotel in Ketchikan, according to DOT spokesman Sam Dapcevich.

Testing and contact tracing revealed one other engineering crew member who tested positive for the virus, the release said. That person stayed aboard the ferry until it arrived in Juneau, where they live.

Both crew members will remain isolated for at least 10 days, state officials say. The crew will receive follow-up testing in Ketchikan on Wednesday.

There were just 40 passengers aboard the ferry when it docked in Ketchikan and 52 crew members, Dapcevich said. Under current 75% capacity restrictions, the ferry could carry up to 335 people.

The Matanuska was scheduled to depart Ketchikan Sunday morning but was delayed roughly 11 hours, officials say. The ship left Ketchikan Sunday evening with replacement crew and was expected to be back on schedule when it departed Juneau Monday evening.

The ferry is one of 10 operated by the Alaska Marine Highway System. A series of COVID-19 outbreaks last summer on vessels including the Matanuska led to canceled sailings as well as new protocols from the state.

Zaz Hollander

Longtime ADN reporter Zaz Hollander is based in the Mat-Su and is currently focused on coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska. She also covers the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at zhollander@adn.com.

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