A view of Metlakatla on Annette Island, Alaska’s only Native reserve. (File photo by Leila Kheiry)

State health officials announced Monday that a Metlakatla resident had tested positive for COVID-19. Local officials, though, say it’s important to note that the person is not physically present in the Alaska Native reserve south of Ketchikan.

Keolani Booth leads Metlakatla Indian Community’s COVID-19 response. He says two Metlakatla residents recently traveled up to Anchorage for medical treatment.

“They were on their way back to Metlakatla from Anchorage, but were intercepted in Juneau when they did their testing there, and one turned up positive,” Booth said in a phone interview.

Booth says the unnamed positive Metlakatla resident is still in Juneau, and says they plan to stay in Juneau for “the next couple of weeks”.

He says it’s unlikely the positive individual was infected prior to departing for Anchorage — both of the traveling residents were tested on their way north, and Booth says both results came back negative.

Booth said Tuesday that Metlakatla has still yet to see any confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the boundaries of the state’s only Indigenous reserve.

Metlakatla’s government has implemented strict quarantine and testing measures in an effort to prevent COVID-19 from reaching the community of roughly 1,500 people.