Cordova remains on high alert amid recent spike in COVID-19 cases

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 3:58 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As the delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread nationwide, several Alaskan communities are also feeling the impacts, which includes Cordova.

The off-road fishing town of about 2,400 people adds another 1,500 or so residents in the summer, according to City Manager Helen Howarth. She said when it comes to this pandemic, the town is not out of the woods just yet.

“We’ve let our guard down a little bit,” Howarth said. “I think this is certainly a wake up call — it’s like this is not over, this is something we still have to be watchful of.”

Earlier this month, the city raised its public health advisory to red and put Cordova in high alert status. The city, along with Sitka in the Southeast, is calling on residents to take precautions as case counts rise.

Last week, Camtu’s Alaska Wild Seafoods temporarily paused operations after several of their employees tested positive for COVID-19. That prompted a mask mandate to go into effect for city employees.

“We might take it a step further and look at requiring — especially with first responders, either vaccination or weekly testing,” Howarth said.

Howarth said the positive COVID-19 cases for several of Camtu’s Alaska Wild Seafoods employees did not originate from the plant itself, but from the community.

“When you’re working at a plant and you live in the community, or you’re in a bunkhouse or whatever — it’s really easy for there to be contact and transmission, so yes, it started in our community,” she said.

Some other seafood plants in Cordova such as Trident Seafoods mandate vaccines for their employees, according to Howarth, who said Camtu’s Alaska Wild Seafoods does not have a vaccine mandate in place for their employees. Howarth said they do, however, require their employees to quarantine for two weeks if they arrive from outside of the city.

Alaska’s News Source reached out to Camtu’s Alaska Wild Seafoods multiple times for comment, and have not yet heard back.

“They’ve lost a week of revenue; they’ve lost a week of purchasing power, and the workers who work there have lost a week of wages,” she said.

Howarth said most fishermen were not impacted by the closure of Camtu’s Alaska Wild Seafoods since they can still deliver to other plants, and mentioned the plant hopes to reopen soon, possibly as soon as this week.

Howarth also offered some hopeful news about the outbreak of COVID-19 in the community.

“We’re seeing more people recover (and) our case count is going down, and that’s really, really good news,” Howarth said. “And yes, you should go get vaccinated.”

As of Monday, there were 47 active cases of COVID-19 in Cordova, according to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard.

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