JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — An increase in Alaska coronavirus cases reported over the weekend appear to be linked primarily to seafood processing companies.
The state reported a record 121 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, including 36 nonresident seafood workers in the Aleutians West Census Area and 26 cases among a seafood processor’s employees in Juneau.
Alaska Glacier Seafoods Inc. worked with the Juneau city officials to test all of its 113 employees after nine employees tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
The 26 employees who tested positive are now isolating. Some test results are still pending, the city said in a statement.
The Alaska Division of Public Health is investigating and will notify and quarantine people as necessary. The exact number of residents and nonresidents among those infected was not immediately known.
City officials plan to work with the seafood processor to conduct follow-up testing.
The Aleutians West Census Area includes Unalaska, the nation’s busiest fishing port of Unalaska where many seafood processors are based.
Tests did not immediately pinpoint where the Aleutians outbreak was based or whether infections were confined to one processor.
There were 27 Alaska residents hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sunday, with one patient on a ventilator.
Experts warn Alaska cities could reach hospital capacity sooner than anticipated under current trends.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.
But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.