Sitka health officials have announced the first positive case of coronavirus in a person under 20 years old. The information was released today (7-16-20), and is the youngest case reported in Sitka so far.

The patient is a non-resident female between the ages of 10 and 19 who was tested on July 13. She was not showing any symptoms at the time of testing, according to a city press release. The release did not specify where she was tested. State health officials have begun the contact tracing process and will notify and isolate anyone who has been in contact with the patient. 

This marks the twenty-second confirmed case in Sitka. Fourteen resident and eight non-resident cases. Only two of the cases are active.

At the Sitka Unified Command meeting yesterday (7-15-20), Public Health Nurse Denise Ewing presented data suggesting that coronavirus was affecting more youth than previously thought. She said that around nine percent of the state’s cases are between 10 and 19 years old. Most patients in Alaska are under 40, with the majority, around 23 percent, of patients in their twenties. 

SEARHC’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elliot Bruhl said that although numbers across the country and state are on the rise, he was optimistic about trends in Southeast Alaska.

“One of the things that’s encouraging in Southeast Alaska is that while there continues to be some positive tests…we’re not seeing the explosion of positive tests in Southeast that’s occurring in the Lower-48 or occurring in the Anchorage or Kenai areas,” Bruhl said. “Things really are unfortunately not really moving in the right direction up north.”

The consortium is expanding asymptomatic testing to Klawock and Haines this weekend. SEARHC is already conducting free tests for people without symptoms in Wrangell, Juneau, and Sitka. And Bruhl said they would soon roll out the program in smaller communities like Kake, Angoon, Gustavus, Pelican, and Tenakee.

Coronavirus testing for some SEARHC employees has been increased to once-per-week.