South Peninsula Hospital has reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in a Homer resident within the city.
A person who was tested at the local hospital “earlier this week” is positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to a Saturday evening press release from the City of Homer Unified Command.
This is the second COVID-19 case to involve a resident of Homer, but the first one to occur actually within the city. The first case was that of a Homer resident who was returning from traveling outside the state. The person was tested when they landed in Anchorage, and remained in Anchorage for isolation.
The second Homer resident’s test was conducted by the Alaska State Public Health Laboratory. According to the press release, public health nurses in Homer are conducting an investigation into contacts the second person who tested positive may have had with others.
“Public Health Nurses will reach out to any person who may have come into contact with this individual,” the release states. “Public Health will notify each significant contact and offer instructions for preventing the spread of disease including quarantine, isolation if sick and contacting your primary care provider for evaluation and potential testing.”
There is no other information about the second individual who has tested positive at this time, the release states. The Homer News has asked for the exact date that the person was tested at South Peninsula Hospital.
“The first confirmed case locally reinforces the urgency for all individuals to take this seriously and do their part to prevent the spread,” wrote Homer Public Information Officer Jenny Carroll in the press release. “The individual actions of each and every one of us in Homer are important to prevent, slow and disrupt the spread of the virus, both in our community and across Alaska. … Together, we can keep each other healthy and save lives.”
Including this new case in Homer, Alaska’s total tally of COVID-19 grew by 17 on Saturday, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. A second case has also been reported in Soldotna, bringing the total number of cases associated with Kenai Peninsula residents to seven.
DHSS reported a total of 102 cases in the state as of Saturday evening. The state also reported on its website that six people are now hospitalized for treatment.
Two Alaskans have died so far from the disease; the first was a Southeast Alaska resident who died in Washington state after an extended stay there, and the second was a 63-year-old woman with underlying health conditions who died Friday, March 27 at Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.
According to DHSS, there are now 49 cases in Anchorage (which includes cases at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson), 16 in Fairbanks, 12 in Ketchikan, seven in North Pole, four in Juneau, four in Eagle River/Chugiak, two in Palmer, two in Sterling, two in Soldotna, two associated with Homer residents and one each in Seward and Girdwood.
According to a DHSS press release sent Saturday night, two of the new cases announced Saturday are known to be travel-related. Five of the new cases are from someone having close contact with previously diagnosed individuals, and 10 of the new cases are still under investigation.
Five of the new patients are over 60 years old, the press release stated. Nine cases are people aged 30-59, two are between the ages of 19 and 29 and one of the new cases is a child. Seven are male and 10 are female, according to the release.
Three of Saturday’s new cases are in Fairbanks. Of those three cases, one is a resident in a long-term care facility. This is Alaska’s first case involving a person in such a facility.
The organization in charge of the long-term care facility, Foundation Health Partners, is taking steps to respond to the case and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, according to the DHSS press release.
According to a local update from South Peninsula Hospital Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro, the hospital had conducted 42 tests for COVID-19 by Saturday morning, 22 of which have come back negative. The hospital now has one positive test, which means 19 are still pending.
Reach Megan Pacer at email@example.com.