Unalaska's COVID-19 Count Reaches Double Digits

Jul 9, 2020

Despite the new COVID-19 case, the community risk factor remains at "medium."
Credit Berett Wilber/KUCB

Updated 07/09/2020 at 2:30 p.m.

City officials reported a new positive case of COVID-19 in Unalaska Tuesday, bringing the total number of positive local cases to ten.

The individual who tested positive is an employee of Pacific Stevedoring, a local company that handles cargo and terminal operations in the Port of Dutch Harbor. They arrived on the island on June 25 and immediately went into quarantine per local protocol, according to city officials. 

"The individual was part of the critical workforce and infrastructure group," said City Manager Erin Reinders. "The individual had traveled to the island from out-of-state, and was in quarantine since their arrival, following the plan that the company had enforced and was testing consistent with that. So the [company's mitigation] plan worked, and the individual was not out and about in the community. Once they tested positive, they did go into isolation."

Upon receiving the positive test result, the employee was placed in isolation per state public health guidance, and close contacts are being identified through the state's contact tracing process, according to city officials. 

Pacific Stevedoring officials said in a statement that the company is cooperating fully with both Iliuliuk Family and Health Services and the State Department of Health, answering all questions and following all recommendations. They did not respond to requests for further comment. 

Despite the new case, the community risk factor remains at "medium."

"At this point, the plan is that we would increase to a high risk level when there is confirmed community spread," Reinders said. "So in all of these cases, so far, it's been individuals coming on island through travel that then ended up testing positive. We haven't been able to confirm any instance so far that there is community spread from person to person here locally."

If that were the case, or if the clinic were to become unable to effectively meet the healthcare needs of the community, "then we'd look at bumping that risk level up to 'high,' which would then mean that we would look at some other preventative measures," she continued. 

Those measures could include instituting another "hunker down" order and/or shutting down some businesses to reduce the impact and spread of the virus.

Reinders said she wants to reiterate the importance of individual decisions and protective measures to help limit spread. 

"Now is a good reminder of why we've all been talking about good hygiene choices and washing your hands, wearing your mask, staying six feet away from each other, really keeping that social circle small," she said. "Those will all go a long way in reducing the risk of the spread of the virus. So stay diligent." 

To date, this marks ten positive cases of COVID-19 in Unalaska. This is the first positive case among PacSteve employees. Whereas, eight have been among Icicle Seafoods workers, and one was an employee of the Alaska Marine Highway System who tested positive for the virus in Unalaska on the M/V Tustumena's first ferry trip of the season.