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Anchorage names more than a dozen businesses with COVID-19 exposure, urges monitoring and testing

F Street Station in downtown Anchorage, photographed Friday, is one of the establishments where the city health department said people “who were infectious with COVID-19 spent extended time.” (Anne Raup / ADN)

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The Anchorage Health Department on Friday afternoon released a list of establishments — primarily bars — where people “who were infectious with COVID-19 spent extended time.”

The health department is asking that anyone who was in these businesses during the specified days avoid people who are vulnerable to COVID-19, monitor themselves for symptoms and check their temperatures twice daily for two weeks.

The list includes the following establishments and dates:

• Anchorage Moose Lodge #1534, eight case visits, exposure period: June 23 to June 28

• Panhandle Bar in Anchorage, six case visits, exposure period: June 16 to June 24

• JJ’s Lounge in Anchorage, six case visits, exposure period: June 15 to June 18

• The Gaslight Bar, five case visits identified, exposure period June 25 to June 27

• Williwaw Social in Anchorage, three case visits, exposure period: June 20, June 21 and June 25

• Chilkoot Charlie’s in Anchorage, two case visits, exposure period: June 18 to June 25

• Cabin Tavern in Anchorage, two case visits, exposure period: June 24 to June 25

• F Street Station in Anchorage, two case visits, exposure period: June 20 and June 25

• Eddie’s Sports Bar in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 18

• Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 25

• Pioneer Bar in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 20

• Bernie’s Bungalow Lounge in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 25

• Great Alaskan Bush Co. in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 24

• Asia Garden in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 24

• The Blue Line Pub & Cafe in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 17

• Homestead Sports Lounge in Eagle River, one case visit identified, exposure period: June 26

• Matanuska Brewing Company in Eagle River, two case visits, exposure period: June 26

• Spurs Bar and Grill (formerly Four Corners Lounge) in Palmer, three case visits, exposure period: June 23 to June 27

• The Yukon Bar in Seward, two case visits, exposure period: June 23 to June 25

Symptoms of COVID-19 may include “fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pressure or tightness, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea,” the health department said in its statement.

It’s possible to be infectious with the virus two days before getting sick and 10 days afterward. The department asks that anyone who develops symptoms stay home except to get tested.

The Anchorage Health Department cautioned that the list contains only confirmed places of exposures and the virus is spreading rapidly throughout the city. The department said it’s working on a webpage that contains notices of exposure, though the department doesn’t list informal gatherings.

The Anchorage Moose Lodge #1534 on Arctic Boulevard, photographed Friday, is one of the establishments where the city health department said people “who were infectious with COVID-19 spent extended time.” (Anne Raup / ADN)

Amid rising cases linked to multiple establishments, the Municipality of Anchorage and industry groups released a list of suggested guidelines for bars and restaurants on Wednesday that include measures such as limiting admittance to people wearing face coverings, turning down music (to keep people from having to get closer to hear one another) and instituting earlier closing hours.

Nationally, COVID-19 cases continued to climb in June, prompting some states to roll back reopenings and restrict or shut down bars.

Anchorage saw a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases this week, straining its capacity to conduct contact tracing.

“With the current surge in cases and related contacts, our public health tracing capacity is maxed out,” Anchorage Health Department Director Natasha Pineda said in a statement Saturday. “At this time, particularly at locations where physical distancing and use of face coverings are unlikely to occur, the number of contacts is too large and complex for traditional contact tracing.”

Some people who have tested positive for the illness “did not share or remember all of their close contacts or public places they visited,” the health department said.

It can take two days to one week before the Anchorage Health Department can learn where there were possible exposures. They’re asking that everyone in the municipality keep track of their contacts.

On Wednesday, Pineda said the city’s “contact tracing capacity is at its max at the local level.”

Several new cases include people who have dozens of contacts — as opposed to just a few, which was more often the case earlier in the pandemic — as the city tries to hire more people temporarily to work on tracing.

When asked at a media briefing Wednesday about the possibility of reimposing restrictions on bars, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said he would continue to watch the state’s COVID-19 numbers to make decisions if needed.

“Everything is on the table to fight a pandemic,” he said.

But, Dunleavy said, there are emotional, economic and health issues that come with each decision made.

“It’s difficult to answer until we really examine these numbers and see where they’re going to go here over the next few days,” Dunleavy said.

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