Juneau officials urge symptomatic bar-goers to get a COVID-19 test

Several local bars have temporarily closed down after a COVID-19 outbreak was linked to a large social event.
Several local bars have temporarily closed down after a COVID-19 outbreak was linked to a large social event.(KTUU)
Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 6:11 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Twenty-five new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Juneau since Saturday and many of them were related to a large social gathering that occurred at the end of August, the City and Borough of Juneau said in a release.

The CBJ said 19 of those cases were identified Tuesday and Juneau officials are now urging people who have visited local bars to seek COVID-19 testing. As the cases were identified Tuesday, they will not appear on the state’s coronavirus dashboard until Wednesday.

The CBJ has not identified specific bars but said that several members of the social gathering work at various bars in Juneau and have frequented other bars outside of work hours. Mila Cosgrove, the deputy city manager, said CBJ is concerned COVID-19 has spread beyond local bars.

“We do know that there have been COVID positive people who have socialized in and around a number of different bars over the last two week period,” Cosgrove said. “It is better to cast our testing net broader to assure that we are able to test the population of people that might be affected.”

Several other Alaska communities have named bars as exposure locations in the past. In June, the Department of Health and Social Services advised people who visited the Seward Alehouse or the Yukon Bar in Seward to seek COVID-19 testing. Anchorage has also released exposure locations, mostly restaurants and bars, when contact tracing became strained.

On Wednesday, CBJ clarified who should be tested saying individuals who have been in close proximity to others at a Juneau bar in the last two weeks and are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should seek testing. People who are not experiencing symptoms should also seek testing, unless it has been 14 days since they have socialized at a bar or will soon reach the two-week mark and are able to practice strict social distancing until those 14 days are over.

The city is setting up a temporary testing location outside Centennial Hall for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday for people who fit that description. Other people with symptoms can call the CBJ COVID-19 screening hotline at 907-586-6000 to schedule a test appointment.

Juneau is experiencing community spread of COVID-19, the release said, but health officials have not yet identified spread from bar employees to patrons. Some local bars have voluntarily closed to allow their staff to be tested and cleared to return to work.

As of Tuesday, 310 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Juneau in both residents and nonresidents. The community is reporting 38 active cases and three people are currently hospitalized at Bartlett Regional Hospital with COVID-19.

correction: This story has been corrected to clarify that people without symptoms are still being asked to get tested for COVID-19 if they did not reach or are not close to reaching the two-week quarantine guidance set by the city.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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