12 youth and four staff members test positive for COVID-19 at the McLaughlin Youth Center
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - 12 youth in a treatment unit and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19 at the McLaughlin Youth Center, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
“The initial case was identified in a staff member who was tested after displaying symptoms. After the positive result came back, the unit the staff member worked on was placed in quarantine status and all youth residing and close contact staff working on the unit were tested. Twelve of the 16 youth had positive tests for the virus, so the entire unit’s status was changed to medical isolation,” wrote DHSS in a press release.
Division Director for the Department of Juvenile Justice, Tracy Dompeling confirmed that first test was discovered on Friday, August 21st in a staff member who had called out sick and got tested at their doctor.
Dompeling explained that inside the facility, about 200 people work there and 83 children are residents. The units that make up housing for the juveniles are made up of separate rooms for each person.
Director of nursing for DHSS, Marie Moore, said so far there have been around 300 tests administered throughout the facility. She said testing would continue on a weekly basis until there are no positives for two weeks.
She added that the children have been given instructions on the importance of personal hygiene and whenever they leave the rooms, masks are required.
The Division of Juvenile Justice is working with DHSS and the Anchorage Health Department to identify any other cases and take additional steps to prevent further spread of COVID-19 at MYC.
All 16 identified cases are from the same treatment unit. The cases are currently still under investigation.
Currently, MYC is taking the following steps to protect all the youth and staff at the center:
- The four youth in the unit that tested negative have been moved to a separate cottage.
- The four MYC staff who tested positive are self-isolating at home.
- Staff have been provided personal protective equipment to help mitigate further spread, which includes isolation gowns, medical masks, eye protection and gloves.
- The treatment unit with the cases has undergone a thorough sanitization of resident rooms and common areas including doorknobs, handrails, and tables.
- MYC is in the process of serial testing all youth and staff at the facility until the entire facility has two weeks of negative tests.
- MYC has been on a temporary suspension of visitation since Aug. 5, 2020 due to high rates of community transmission in the Anchorage area.
- Anchorage School District teaching staff will continue to provide education services through an online platform.
In April 2020 a staff member at MYC tested positive for COVID-19, then in June of this year, a youth tested positive for COVID-19.
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