Confusion continues over resumption of Tusty service

A sign at the Kodiak Ferry Terminal warns those exhibiting coronavirus symptoms against boarding the M/V Tustumena on June 3.  

The cancellations for the M/V Tustumena keep coming. 

Amanda Becker, the Kodiak Ferry Terminal manager, announced on Friday that the ferry would not be returning to service this week, as previously planned. The boat’s new date to return to the water is July 2, when it leaves Homer for Kodiak Island. 

“I wish we had better info as to the reasons behind this decision, but all we know is that it is due to ongoing COVID-19 mitigation,” Becker posted on the Friends of Kodiak Facebook group.

The Tustumena was taken offline when a crew member tested positive for COVID-19 on June 6. The boat was in Dutch Harbor at the time and has returned to Homer, where it has been moored and undergoing a thorough cleaning. Since the first positive test, six additional crew members have tested positive for the virus. 

The Tustumena is scheduled to dock in Kodiak July 3, the first sight of the boat on The Rock since she left down the Aleutian Chain on June 3.

“Again, this situation is still incredibly fluid, and although we have everything possible crossed in the hopes we won’t have to make any more cancellation calls ... nothing is guaranteed at this point,” Becker posted on Friends of Kodiak. 

The M/V Kennicott returns to Kodiak on July 2 and departs to Whittier the same day.

With Coast Guard transfer season underway, Becker said both ferries are “incredibly packed.” Because of the pandemic, the Tustumena is limited to 60 passengers, down from its normal 168 capacity, while the Kennicott is limited to 125, down from 500.

“For those who were looking to travel but haven’t booked yet … depending on what you want to do, we may be as far out as July 22, in some cases,” she wrote.  

Kodiak reported its seventh confirmed positive COVID-19 case Friday evening, a nonresident believed to be travel related, according to a press release from the Kodiak Area Emergency Services Organization. “Kodiak Public Health officials have made contact with the individual and will continue to monitor their condition to ensure self-isolation and care,” the release said. “This person has been in quarantine and the contact investigation is complete.”

Of the seven cases in the Kodiak Island Borough so far, three are recovered and four are active and isolating. After 48 days without a confirmed positive COVID-19 case, Kodiak has recorded six cases in June — three since June 12.

Since Friday, the state reported 63 positive COVID-19 test results — 47 Alaska residents and 16 nonresidents. There are now 280 active COVID-19 cases in Alaska, the most since the pandemic started. 

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