More positive cases of COVID-19 should be expected at Coast Guard Base Kodiak during the next two weeks as the process of contact tracing continues, according to the top official at the base.
As of Tuesday, 13 people linked to the Coast Guard had tested positive for COVID-19, said Capt. Edward Hernaez.
Among the cases are one crew member on the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Spar, and one person at the Rockmore-King Medical Clinic.
Hernaez said that most of the Air Station crew members and Spar crew members who are currently on base have been tested.
Kodiak Public Health Nurse Bonny Weed said three positive cases among children were close contacts to the cases at the base.
Two of the children were tested twice, the first time because they had been in close proximity to positive cases, with the results coming back negative. But after they started feeling ill, they were tested a second time and were found to be positive.
Weed said that because the children had been in quarantine since Sept. 28, they were not a threat to others.
In a letter to service members, Hernaez said the Coast Guard’s contact tracing methods mean that more cases should be expected.
“This approach has resulted in a large number of members and families being placed in quarantine,” he said in the letter. “Our initial efforts have been very successful but we fully anticipate more COVID cases to surface over the next two weeks.”
The initial cases were among Air Station service members who worked in the same shop, Hernaez said, adding that the potential origin could be a service member who had traveled off island.
However, he would not comment on where that travel may have taken place.
“Members are traveling at various locations as far as our operations go, so I can't speculate to the specifics of which travel,” Hernaez said. “But we know there was travel within that initial group.”
He said that once the positive cases have been identified, the Coast Guard reports their numbers to the Kodiak Health Department.
Since the outbreak began last month, the Coast Guard station has gone from medium-risk amber level to red, the highest risk level.
He said the Coast Guard base will stay at red until they see a 14-day period of reduced or no new positive cases.
Hernaez is a member of the Kodiak Emergency Services Organization, along with other Coast Guard officers, local leaders and public health officials.
As of Tuesday, there were 16 active cases on the island, only two of which were community members outside of the Coast Guard. To date, 90 people that have tested positive for COVID-19 on Kodiak, including active and recovered cases.
Hernaez urged the community and service members to continue to wear masks and take the virus seriously.
“The coronavirus is still an ever-present threat to our way of life,” he said. “I really hope that message of wearing a mask and the importance of taking this virus seriously really does stick with the community.”
On Tuesday, the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services reported 143 new cases in the state, including six nonresidents and 137 residents. The resident cases occurred in Anchorage (59), Fairbanks (21), Bethel Census Area (14), Wasilla (7), Eagle River (6), Kodiak (5), Kotzebue (4), North Pole (3), Palmer (3), Utqiagvik (3), Douglas (2), Kenai (2) and one each in Bethel, Big Lake, Dillingham, Houston, Nome Census Area, Northwest Arctic Borough, Seward and Soldotna.