The City and Borough of Juneau's Augustus G. Brown Swimming Pool, pictured here last spring, and the Dimond Park Aquatic Center will both expand their capacity and offer additional flexibility for lap swims beginning March 1. They are among the CBJ facilities that will expand offerings now that the city's COVID risk level has been reduced to Level 1, or minimal risk. (Peter Segall/Juneau Empire)

City officials optimistic about local COVID-19 situation

The numbers look good, but city leaders call for continued vigilance

City and Borough of Juneau officials sounded upbeat about the city’s COVID-19 position at Tuesday’s weekly community briefing.

The update comes almost one week after the city reduced the overall risk level to Level 1, minimal risk.

“We want to make sure that our community members are safe and well and that our businesses are open and our kids are in school. We are winding our way well to all of those goals,” said Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove, who is also the emergency operations center incident commander. “Overall, we are in a good position with low transmission and the ability to respond to new infections.”

Overall, the seven-day rolling positivity rate is 1.34%.

“This is still well below the 2% where we want to keep it,” Cosgrove said.

Cosgrove said that the city is watching transmission rates closely and that public health has attributed most cases over the last week to secondary transmission. Secondary transmission occurs between known contacts and often happens in families when one member tests positive and spreads the illness to other family members, she said.

Concern about new variants coming to Juneau is part of CBJ’s surveillance efforts, said Robert Barr, planning chief for the city’s emergency operations center.

Cosgrove said that the same mitigation measures that have kept community spread low so far would help prevent a significant outbreak if a variant arrives in Juneau.

“Masks really are among our best tools for prevention,” Cosgrove said.

CBJ mitigation measures continue

Testing continues

CBJ continues to operate symptomatic COVID-19 testing at the drive-thru testing site at the Hagevig Training Center. Cosgrove said they are testing 20-40 people a day there. In addition, private providers are also offering COVID-19 tests.

Barr said Bartlett Regional Hospital is now processing some pre-procedure COVID-19 tests, reducing the turnaround time for results.

He expects the number of tests processed there to grow as symptomatic tests are processed there, eliminating travel time and speeding up test results.

Number of vaccinated residents continues to climb

City officials said that the number of residents who have received the first vaccine dose stands at 28.7% and that 18.38% of residents have received both doses.

Vaccine registration to open early for seniors

Expanding city services

Thanks to the community risk level change, Juneau Pools and Treadwell Arena will adjust operations and expand offerings.

Treadwell Arena can now accommodate 28 skaters for open skate. Registration, masks and social distancing are still required. Guests are encouraged to bring their own skates and helmets, but skate rentals are available and included in admission. For more information, contact Treadwell Arena at 586-0410.

For Juneau Pools, effective Monday, March 1, both the Dimond Park Aquatic Center and the Augustus Brown Swimming Pool will offer increased capacity, and more flexibility for lap swims. Diamond Park will offer semi-open swims with up to 80 patrons and close for 30-minutes between swim sessions.

Saunas, hot tubs, instructional programming, and facility rentals remain off-limits for now.

Don’t forget your mask

Although the overall risk level has been reduced to minimal, masks are still required in Juneau, based on a local ordinance.

For passengers over the age of 2 on public transportation and those passing through the Juneau International Airport, federal mask requirements now apply, as well. Passengers without face coverings that include at least two layers of breathable fabric covering the mouth and nose at all times will not be allowed to ride.

•Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

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