Emergency worker Melanie Chavez takes a sample from a man at Juneau International Airport in October. Airport-based testing is expected to transition to a vendor being secured by the state in late January. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

Emergency worker Melanie Chavez takes a sample from a man at Juneau International Airport in October. Airport-based testing is expected to transition to a vendor being secured by the state in late January. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

Local COVID-19 numbers stable

Juneau’s COVID-19 case level remains stable heading into the Christmas and New Year holidays.

On Tuesday, the City and Borough of Juneau Emergency Operations Center reported 12 new cases. This brings the total number of active infections to 44. Of the new cases, public health attributes four to secondary transmission with the rest under investigation. Overall, the positivity rate remains below 2%.

“As we move into the holiday weeks, the city is well-positioned,” said Mila Cosgrove, CBJ deputy city manager and EOC incident commander.

“We are hoping our numbers stay low so we can drop the community mitigation rate down and open schools in January,” she said.

She encouraged all residents to limit travel, keep social bubbles small and socialize outside instead of indoors to the greatest extent possible.

“We do still have quite a bit of community spread so It’s important to keep our eye on the ball,” she said.

Testing changes coming soon

Thanks to the arrival and installation of a machine that can process COVID-19 tests, the wait time for test results should be reduced to one or two days by the end of January. The machine has been installed and staff training is underway.

[Testing machine timeline starts to take shape]

“Right now our tests spend a lot of time in the air going to the lab,” said Robert Barr, CBJ Emergency Operations center planning chief.

“We anticipate our initial test processing capacity to be about 900 tests a week,” he said. “That’s based on what our vendor can supply us,” he added.

Once up and running, all local tests, except for those performed at the airport, will be processed in town.

Airport-based testing is expected to transition to a vendor being secured by the state in late January. This change will free up fire department resources who have been closely involved in managing testing there.

Contact Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com.

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