Sitka’s total COVID-19 count is now at 78. Only five of those cases are considered active, according to city data (KCAW/Berett Wilber)

Sitka recorded another two positive coronavirus cases this week. Health officials report that a female, age 20-29, tested positive on Wednesday (10-28-20) while experiencing symptoms of the virus. Contact tracing for the woman is currently in progress.

Superintendent John Holst confirms that the latest patient is a staff member at Pacific High School. As of Thursday morning, the building was closed for deep cleaning. Students were already scheduled to be out of the building on Friday for a staff inservice. Holst says he’ll wait to hear from public health officials about whether Pacific High reopens on Monday, or whether additional people there will have to be tested.

The case is the fourth positive case in the district, and the first at Pacific High. Holst said that a fifth case within the schools had just been confirmed as of Thursday afternoon. The patient, a female age 30-39, is also an adult staff member, who is not associated with any specific building in the district.

The cases push Sitka’s total case count to 78 — all but five of them are considered recovered.

Statewide, the COVID-19 infection rate continues to rise. Six deaths were reported on Thursday (10-29-20) and 355 new cases. One of the fatalities was a woman in her seventies on Prince of Wales Island; two were Anchorage men in their seventies; a Fairbanks woman in her eighties; and an Anchorage man in his forties. Statewide, 77 Alaskans have died since the onset of the pandemic in March.

Likewise, in recent days the United States has seen some of the highest daily rates of infection since the beginning of the pandemic — higher even than the peak daily infection rates of last spring.