COVID-19 outbreak at Trident Seafoods Akutan plant grows to 135

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Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 6:42 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A seafood plant in Akutan, Alaska, run by Trident Seafoods is facing a large COVID-19 outbreak with 135 of 307 tested employees testing positive for COVID-19, health care officials said on Tuesday morning.

The Akutan plant has around 700 employees, and COVID-19 testing is still underway. Dr. Joe McLaughlin, an epidemiologist with the state, said the first report of COVID-19 at the facility was made on Jan. 17. Since then, two people have been medically evacuated by the U.S. Coast Guard for COVID-19 and three others with COVID-19 were evacuated for other life-threatening medical situations.

“Two of the five are currently hospitalized in Anchorage and the others have been discharged and are staying at a hotel in Anchorage,” McLaughlin said. “The company has medical staff at the hotel monitoring those individuals.”

Thomas Koloski, with the Critical Infrastructure and Sustainment Branch of the Alaska COVID-19 Unified Command, said COVID-19 testing kits have been sent to Akutan in partnership with the local clinic run by the East Aleutian Tribes.

“Right now the company is taking all appropriate measures to limit further spread of the virus within their workforce and ensure that it remains contained to their facility,” Koloski said. “The Alaska Unified command is assisting them with technical support through the section of epidemiology on how they can set up and run their response and logistical supports through the state emergency operations center.”

People at the plant who are considered high risk are being moved to Unalaska. Tuesday morning, McLaughlin said eight people had already arrived in Unalaska and seven more were on the way from Akutan.

Going forward, Koloski said the state was coordinating efforts with local and corporate leaders at Trident Seafoods.

“We’re going to continue to have daily meetings with the leadership — both the local leadership at the plant there in Akutan and the corporate leadership at Trident Seafoods — to help the company further develop their plan to possibly move some of their other workers who are potentially at higher risk for more severe illness off of the island to further reduce the possibility they might turn into emergent cases somewhere down the road,” Koloski said.

State health officials said supplies including ventilators and oxygen are being sent to Akutan in case the facility needs to respond to COVID-19 cases at the facility.

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