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Juneau fish processing plant reports 38 positive COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Alaska Glacier Seafoods after 38 employees tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend....
Alaska Glacier Seafoods after 38 employees tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. (07/20/20)(KTUU)
Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 7:09 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - A Juneau fish processing plant reported 38 positive COVID-19 cases over the weekend.

On July 4, an employee at Alaska Glacier Seafoods, Inc., began showing symptoms for coronavrius. He received a positive diagnosis one week later. Juneau contact tracers determined the fish processor caught COVID out in the community.

Seventeen close contacts were tested and eight more seafood processors tested positive.

On July 15, another 113 of the plant’s employees were tested. As of Monday evening, 29 workers had tested positive for COVID.

Jim Erickson, a co-owner of Alaska Glacier Seafoods, Inc., said the vast majority of employees who tested positive for COVID have been asymptomatic. “No more than four or five showed any symptoms, whatsoever,” he said.

The remaining COVID cases have been described as mild, Erickson said.

Robert Barr, the planning sections chief with the Juneau emergency operations center, said the fish processing plant sprang into action when the positive cases were announced. There is standalone housing for workers to quarantine and Erickson says the plant is in lockdown.

The 38 positive COVID cases announced over the weekend represents around half of Juneau’s coronavirus total since the pandemic began. The coronavirus surge has pushed Juneau-based contact tracers to the limit. “We’re right there up against it,” Barr said.

Centennial Hall has been prepared as an emergency quarantine and isolation site. It could be opened by the City and Borough of Juneau, if needed. “I think it’s probably 50-50 at this point, where we’re at today,” Barr said.

Before the fishing season started, an agreement was worked out so if one processor saw a COVID outbreak, others would step in to ensure there was no disruption for commercial fishermen. With dozens of workers quarantined at Alaska Glacier Seafoods, Inc., that help is needed. “We’re all in this together, as seafood processors, as fishermen, as a community,” Erickson said.

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