Anchorage Pioneer Home resident with COVID-19 dies amid cluster of infections in the facility

We're making coronavirus coverage available without a subscription as a public service. But we depend on reader support to do this work. Please consider joining others in supporting local journalism in Alaska for just $3.23 a week.

A resident of the Anchorage Pioneer Home who tested positive for COVID-19 has died, Alaska’s health department said Wednesday.

Fourteen residents of the home and four staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 by Wednesday, Department of Health and Social Services spokesman Clinton Bennett said in an email.

Two of the residents who tested positive were hospitalized, Bennett said.

One of the hospitalized residents “died recently,” but the state’s health department will not be releasing further information about the date of the death, Bennett said.

“The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) will not release information about a death that could potentially identify a person,” Bennett wrote. “With the population size of the Anchorage Pioneer Home community, announcing specific information about an individual (sex, age, etc.) and combining that with information that the decedent was from the Anchorage Pioneer Home could potentially identify the decedent.”

Alaska has recorded 37 deaths associated with COVID-19, including one that was newly reported Wednesday.

[Tracking COVID-19 in Alaska: State reports new death and 53 new cases statewide]

Four coronavirus infections were initially found on Aug. 5 and 6 among staff and residents.

By Aug. 12, the state confirmed eight more cases at the facility — seven in residents and one in a staff member.

Nationwide, more than 41% of deaths associated with COVID-19 have happened in long-term care facilities, The New York Times reported on Aug. 13.

People living in nursing homes are at “high risk” for COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses because of the “congregate nature” of the facilities and because older adults often have underlying medical conditions, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Eight of the residents who tested positive at the Anchorage Pioneer Home are still in isolation at the facility, and four are considered recovered and were released from isolation, Bennett said.

Thirteen of the 14 cases were among residents in a single area of the home. One case in a resident of another area in the home is now considered recovered, Bennett said.

Of the four employees who tested positive, one remains in isolation, he said.

Both residents and staff will continue to be tested.

All of the state’s six elder care facilities were closed to visitors in March, and the Anchorage Pioneer Home has remained closed to visitors since then.

[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]