A sign in downtown Juneau encourages residents who have symptoms or otherwise believe they are at risk of having contracted the coronavirus to get tested. Local and statewide numbers have been on the rise in recent weeks. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

A sign in downtown Juneau encourages residents who have symptoms or otherwise believe they are at risk of having contracted the coronavirus to get tested. Local and statewide numbers have been on the rise in recent weeks. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

City moves to high alert level as 35 new cases confirmed over long weekend

24 new cases are linked to cluster.

The City and Borough of Juneau is raising the community risk level to Level 3 — High as heightened case activity pushed both the seven-day and 14-day case rates into the high alert category, with 35 cases confirmed over the weekend.

The largest cluster currently active, a total of 62 active or recovered cases, is among Juneau’s population experiencing homelessness, according to city data. Of the 35 new cases, 24 are related to this cluster.

“Two thirds of them are still active. Centennial Hall is very active,” said City Manager Rorie Watt during a Tuesday news briefing.

However, that should not overshadow growing community spread numbers, including growing case rates in Juneau’s youth, Watt said.

“We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we are seeing community spread in the general population,” Watt said. “We are escalating our risk level to high. This will result in increased restriction in the community.”

With the raised alert level, new mitigation measures come online, per CBJ policies.

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“Bars do not need to close, but bars and restaurants need to reduce capacity,” said Robert Barr, the planning chief for CBJ’s Emergency Operations Center. “Reservations or contact lists are required.”

Effective on Wednesday, Oct. 21, bars and restaurants may not operate above 50% capacity, must have a 6 foot space for all patrons, and must close at 11 p.m. Personal services must go by appointment anyway, with no waiting areas. Gyms are limited to 25% capacity, with no group from activities, according to a CBJ news release.

Additionally, indoor gatherings are limited to 20 people with masks required, and social bubbles should be only family members.

“Wear your masks, keep your circle small. Those are the most powerful things,” Watt said. “We’d like the community to work hard in all sorts of ways great and small to get the community down to a lower risk level.”

Many other city facilities are altering or closing operations.

“The ice rink will close. The museum will close,” Barr said. “The libraries that aren’t already providing curbside service will move to curbside service.”

Both city pools will close, reopening Oct. 26 for use by appointment only. The permit center will also closed for in-person services, but will still be providing virtual services.

“I think, to be honest and frank, Alaska finds itself in a bit of a difficult time with regard to COVID,” Watt said. “Our numbers and trends are not heading in the right direction.”

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

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