Emergency worker Melanie Chavez takes a COVID-19 test sample at the Juneau International Airport screening site on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. City officials said Tuesday contact tracers are behind in tracking down positive COVID-19 cases. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

City asks residents to help with contact tracing

Tracing is behind where it should be, officials say

City public health officials are asking Juneauites to help with containing the community spread of COVID-19 by observing strict health precautions and by actively aiding in contact tracing.

Health officials in City and Borough of Juneau are slightly behind in contact tracing, an essential part of containing the spread of coronavirus, city emergency operations center incident commander Mila Cosgrove said in a community update Tuesday afternoon.

“Public health is a little bit overwhelmed,” she said.

Officials were able to contact trace 50-70% of positive cases within 48 hours, Cosgrove said, which is below the city’s target number. Tests conducted by private clinics are reported to the state before they’re reported to Juneau’s health authorities, Cosgrove said, and asked anyone who received a positive test from a private clinic to call Juneau’s contact tracers.

[COVID-19 case numbers soar over the weekend]

COVID-19 cases in Juneau and the state have been rapidly growing recently. In Juneau, part of that is from an outbreak among people experiencing homelessness, but Cosgrove said the city is also seeing a rise in cases spread between family members and close contacts, as well as across all age groups.

The city reported 14 additional cases Tuesday, bringing Juneau’s total active cases to 91.

Limiting one’s social circle is important in order to limit community spread, she said, and asked that anyone who receives a positive coronavirus test make a detailed account of anyone they were in close contact with for at least 15 minutes and notify those people as soon as possible.

City officials urged people to get tested, either by private clinics or by city or state operations, but asked that anyone who receives a positive test call the Department of Health and Social Services Juneau Public Health Center at 465-3353.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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