This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, pink, cultured in the lab. (NIAID-RML via AP)

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, pink, cultured in the lab. (NIAID-RML via AP)

Juneau has first confirmed coronavirus victim, prepares screening service

City prepares screening program

Juneau has its first confirmed coronavirus case, according to City and Borough of Juneau and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

The person, an unidentified adult, is sheltering, while personnel from the Alaska Division of Public Health are interviewing those the person had come in contact with. CBJ and DHSS shared news of the case Sunday evening.

“If a positive test comes back, it goes to the state,” said CBJ City Manager Rorie Watt in a phone interview. “Public health notifies us and says you have a positive case in your community. Public health nurses contact that individual and interview them.”

The person is in isolation at home and has not been hospitalized, according to CBJ and DHSS.

Further information about the person has not been released per medical and city guidelines.

CBJ has set up a screening hotline for residents without a primary health care provider at 586-6000. A health care worker will help anyone calling to fill out a screening survey, and if they qualify for testing, they’ll schedule an appointment to do so at a drive-thru testing center being set up at the Hagevig Fire Training Center.

Bartlett Regional Hospital has also expanded its capacity to handle coronavirus victims, said Rose Lawhorne, BRH’s chief nursing officer, in a press release, including their on-site ventilators and ability to provide supplementary oxygen.

“We can use other equipment with ventilation abilities,” Lawhorne said. “We have 8 oxygen concentrators that take the regular air and concentrate the O2. They can be used as an oxygen source.”

A wing has been set up as a negative-pressure wing to prevent the spread of disease, as well as other protocols to maintain sterilization and safety. BRH also has an emergency field hospital that can be set up with 16 more isolation beds and 44 external beds.

“Identifying a specific maximum number of patients BRH can care for is difficult,” Lawhorne said. “The emergency operations plan offers direction for increasing the number of isolation beds through various strategies that we may not use under normal circumstances.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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