Angoon’s mayor, Joshua Bowen, has enacted emergency mandates for self-isolation and quarantining as the coronavirus comes to the small town. (Courtesy photo / Joshua Bowen)

Angoon’s mayor, Joshua Bowen, has enacted emergency mandates for self-isolation and quarantining as the coronavirus comes to the small town. (Courtesy photo / Joshua Bowen)

Angoon sees climbing case count as testing continues

The town has clamped down on all external movement and is testing all citizens.

Angoon Mayor Joshua Bowen said now would be a good time for people to “hold off on your visits.”

The town, previously inviolate to the spread of the coronavirus, had its first confirmed case earlier in the week, which rapidly ballooned to eight and now 10 cases, with one probable, Bowen said.

“The number of tests done as of last night was 219,” Bowen said in a phone interview. “The number of positives was 10.”

The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium is responsible for carrying out and processing those tests. The whole Admiralty Island community, more than 400 people, is currently being tested, Bowen said.

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“They’re being sent over to Sitka. They were testing all day today,” Bowen said. “The local PA (physician’s assistant) was saying they were looking at doing another round next week.”

Testing the entire community is a standard Department of Health and Social Services technique during this pandemic, said Clinton Bennett, a spokesperson for the DHSS.

“In general with outbreaks, testing can be handled by a few different methods: collecting samples across the community or outbreak area and transporting them all to a high capacity lab for processing,” Bennett said. “If the community or outbreak location is of a smaller size rapid testing platforms can be used. In that situation a local clinic or organization can handle that testing if they have the supplies and staff or a deployed team can travel to that community with rapid testing devices and test the community. All of these methods and variations of (them) have been used throughout Alaska.”

If the coronavirus spreads further in Angoon, stricter measures will have to be enacted, Bowen said. Current measures include a mask mandate, quarantine for anyone confirmed or suspected of having the coronavirus by public health officals a and a two-week self isolation policy alongside a written declaration for all travellers.

“Beyond what I did with the emergency order, I imagine there’d be a push for a travel lockdown and a hunker-down mandate. Right now it’s just a suggestion,” Bowen said. “Usually there’s cars driving around and people walking around, and we’re not seeing any of that. Last night we had a ferry come in and no one got off.”

The closure of the Angoon Oil Fuel Dock to contain the spread is the biggest issue for many, Bowen said, confining many to home.

“We’re kind of being a little forced to with the closure of the fuel station. I think that’s the chief complaint I’m hearing,” Bowen said. “This is prime time for beach seining and gillnetting for subsistence.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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