According to the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Foundation, two people in the Fairbanks area have tested positive for COVID-19. Sources in the Governor’s Office confirmed the reports and the hospital is holding a press conference at this hour.
These are the first confirmed community cases of the coronavirus. The first case in Alaska was a cargo pilot on a jet from Asia, who developed symptoms enroute to Alaska and took stringent precautions before and after landing.
Both of the Fairbanks men who tested positive are stable and do not require hospitalization.
Both were older Alaskans and these are considered travel-related cases because the men were in communities that had sustained outbreaks of community transmission, although it unclear if they had traveled together.
The men had been back in Fairbanks for a “good period of time” before they were diagnosed, said Dr. Anne Zink, who reiterated the importance of people traveling from the Lower 48 needing to self-quarantine. The two men are in isolation, as are their families.
The first patient was seen Sunday night in the emergency department and was tested. He has been isolated in his home since then, said Michael Burton, an emergency medicine physician at the Fairbanks hospital.
Burton said any patient that comes in is held in isolation and then the room is cleaned afterward.
At this time these cases do not seem to be from community to community spread because both of these individuals had been traveling in the Lower 48, according to the Office of the Governor.
“I want to commend Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for its response to these two cases,” said Governor Dunleavy. “The preparation and training staff members have done not only in the recent weeks, but over the years has prepared them for today. We knew there would be cases in Alaska and over time we are expecting more cases.”
“Even as we expect more cases in Alaska, we must remember each case is a person diagnosed with COVID-19,” said Dr. Anne Zink. “Now and in the coming months we must always show compassion for the patients, but also the staff and the community. As we do this we must also remember the guidance we share with you in hopes of preventing and slowing the spread of this pandemic across our state.”
Yesterday the State issued guidance for returning travelers:
If you are at Medium Risk please take these precautions for travelers returning within 14 days from outside of Alaska (including the rest of the United States) you should:
- Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
- Minimize contact with people as much as possible, self-monitor and practice social distancing.
- This may mean not going to work or school if you cannot safely be distanced from others – especially if you traveled in a location where community transmission is occurring.