Today, SEARHC announced that they had detected the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Sitka, a Sitka Longterm Care resident. (Pictured, Sitka’s drive-thru coronavirus testing clinic, KCAW/Berett Wilber)

Sitka now has its first confirmed case of the coronavirus.

In a press release on Saturday (4-25-20), the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium announced that the patient is a resident at Sitka Long Term Care. The state’s Department of Health and Social Services later confirmed that the Sitka patient is a male.

The patient was transferred to Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center. SEARHC is currently investigating the source of the virus. All residents of the LTC Center were tested. SEARHC Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elliot Bruhl said “This confirmed case showcases the persistence of this virus and the ability for asymptomatic people to spread it within the community.”

Read the full news release here 

Although Sitka now has joined a growing list of Alaska communities with confirmed cases of the virus, SEARHC has been taking preventative measures for weeks, cutting hospital visitation, and screening all patients at the door. According to the press release, more stringent measures have been in place at the LTC for the past two months. No outside visitors are allowed in long term care- the facility has been using ‘virtual visitation’ since March, and all staff are screened before entering. 

As of last Tuesday (4-21-20), SEARHC had administered 174 tests in Sitka, and had committed to releasing weekly testing information. As of Saturday, there are 339 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state of Alaska. 

Editor’s Note: This is a developing story, and may be updated (Last update 3:00 PM 4-26-20)