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COVID-19 outbreak at Fairbanks Pioneer Home grows to 34 cases

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Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 5:10 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Department of Health and Social Services says a COVID-19 outbreak at the Fairbanks Pioneer home has grown to 34 total cases with 28 of those cases reported since Sept. 21.

The new cases have been identified in 19 staff members and nine residents of the home. An additional six cases were identified in another resident and five staff members, but DHSS said those cases are now considered recovered.

“We are stressing the importance of infection control procedures within the home and safe practices when staff are out in the community. However, increased cases in Fairbanks make it very challenging to keep COVID-19 out of the facility since our staff live and interact within the community where the disease is spreading,” DHSS Deputy Commissioner Clinton Lasley said in a prepared statement.

The state says the staff of the pioneer home has been tested twice a week since an employee tested positive for the virus on Sept. 22. The facility is now also testing residents twice a week, though previously they were only testing residents for COVID-19 if they showed symptoms.

Residents and employees of the facility who have tested positive for the virus are isolating, DHSS said in a release.

“We’re seeing very high numbers of cases in many communities across the state. And as we see in Fairbanks, this can increase the risk to some of our most vulnerable citizens,” Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said in a prepared statement. “I’m urging Alaskans to stop and re-evaluate their routines and behaviors when outside of their home."

DHSS encourages people to wear a mask, be socially distant and reduce social bubbles.

Other pioneer homes in the state have reported COVID-19 cases. DHSS said the pioneer home in Palmer is “the only other home with a case right now” in a staff member. The Anchorage Pioneer Home has not identified another COVID-19 case in the facility in the past two weeks, DHSS said.

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