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. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

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. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Community spread of the coronavirus hits new high

City officials remind people to stay ‘COVID conscious’ during weekly update

Community spread of the coronavirus in Juneau is the highest it’s ever been, said city officials during a weekly COVID-19 update.

“We need the public to be extra COVID-conscious right now,” said City Manager Rorie Watt.

Cases spiked locally following an August social gathering, which late last week resulted in the city’s emergency operations center raising the city’s risk level. That action resulted in bars being closed to inside service and restaurants operating at reduced capacity and requiring reservations. So far, there have been 31 cases associated with the late August event, according to city data, and a total of 13 new cases were reported by the city on Tuesday.

“It’s a cautionary tale of how quickly things can go in the wrong direction,” Watt said.

The number of cases associated with that cluster could continue to climb as many test results are still outstanding from additional drive-thru testing sites stood up late last week to meet increased demand for tests.

[City awaits results from hundreds of tests]

Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove, who heads the city’s emergency operations center, said the long turnaround time for results is caused by an unexpected delay caused by staffing at the state lab in Fairbanks.

“Our test results from our pop-up testing center at Centennial Hall have been delayed,” Cosgrove said. “Saturday tests are just starting to trickle back in.”

Both Watt and Cosgrove said Juneauites should continue to practice social distancing and wear masks when around people who are not members of their household.

“We need people to do a really, really good job of masking up,” Watt said.

Cumulatively, Juneau has had 252 residents test positive for COVID-19 since March and 98 nonresidents, according to city data. There are 47 active cases in Juneau and 302 people have recovered. All people with active cases of COVID-19 are in isolation. There are currently three people with COVID-19 hospitalized at Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Statewide, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 43 new people with COVID-19 — 42 are residents and one is a nonresident.

Alaska has had 6,395 cumulative resident cases of COVID-19 and a total of 918 nonresidents, according to state data.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, breathing trouble, sore throat, muscle pain, and loss of taste or smell. Most people develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, that can be fatal.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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