Ketchikan now has three confirmed cases of coronavirus.
That’s according to a midday Friday news release from the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center.
“Upon experiencing symptoms of illness, the individual self-isolated and sought testing through the PeaceHealth Medical Center Emergency Room,” the release said. “This individual was a close contact of the first identified positive case in Ketchikan. The individual is an employee of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough and works at the White Cliff Building.”
Ketchikan officials closed the borough’s offices in the White Cliff Building on Tuesday following news that Ketchikan’s first confirmed case worked in the building.
“The building has been thoroughly cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected with a commercial disinfectant service,” the release said.
Officials said the building will remain closed until April 1.
Despite the trio of confirmed cases, it appears that Ketchikan’s cases are not what federal health officials would consider “community spread.”
The Centers for Disease Control reserves that for cases where the source of the virus can’t be traced back with any certainty.
PeaceHealth Ketchikan spokesperson Mischa Chernick says people in respiratory distress — that is, people who are having trouble catching their breath — should immediately go to the emergency room. She recommends that they call the hospital ahead of time if possible.
Chernick says people without a regular primary care doctor can be scheduled for same-day appointments at PeaceHealth. And as of Friday, she says appointments are available.
But she says that not everyone presenting coronavirus-like symptoms — including a cough, fever and trouble breathing — will be tested for COVID-19. That’s due to state testing rules, she said.
Ketchikan Public Health is conducting an investigation to determine who came into contact with the third case, according to the release from the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center.
“Through the contact investigation, Public Health will direct testing of persons that meet criteria based on contact with any confirmed case of COVID-19,” the release said.
Glenn Brown, Ketchikan’s borough attorney and a KRBD board member, was the area’s first confirmed case. He self-identified on social media Tuesday evening. On Thursday afternoon, Ketchikan emergency operations center officials said the second case was Brown’s spouse.
The most recent case adds to two that have been reported by the state this week, increasing the total number of known cases in Alaska to 14.
As of Friday evening, there are three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Southeast Alaska, all in Ketchikan.
This story has been updated. It was last updated at 7:27 PM on Friday, March 20.