More than two dozen new cases of COVID-19 have been discovered among staff and residents at a state-run assisted living facility in Fairbanks.
Since Sept. 21, there have been 28 new cases of disease caused by the novel coronavirus, state health officials said in an announcement written Tuesday afternoon.
Of the new cases at home, nine involved residents and 19 staff members. Staff have been tested twice a week since Sept. 22, when a positive case was discovered in a staff member, DHSS officials said.
The new cases follow an outbreak of cases that occurred in the Anchorage Pioneer Home last summer, which resulted in multiple deaths of residents.
COVID-19 poses a particularly high risk to nursing homes and long-term care facilities because they often involve congregated facilities and residents who are particularly vulnerable to the disease, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In September, the New York Times reported that while coronavirus cases in nursing homes accounted for about 7 percent of the nation’s total COVID-19 cases, they accounted for 40 percent of the country’s deaths from the disease.
“We are emphasizing the importance of infection control procedures within the home and safe practices when staff are out of the community. However, the increase in cases in Fairbanks makes it very difficult to keep COVID-19 out of the facility as our staff live and interact within the community where the disease is spreading, “according to a statement by Deputy Commissioner Clinton Lasley in the statement. .
Residents with positive test results have been isolated and will have dedicated staff whenever possible and staff who tested positive isolated at home, the health department said.
In a statement, chief medical officer of state Dr. Anne Zink urged Alaskans to “reevaluate their routines and behaviors when they are away from home.”
He asked Alaskans to continue wearing a mask, staying six feet or more from others and keeping their social circles small.
“We are seeing a very large number of cases in many communities across the state. And as we see in Fairbanks, this can increase the risk for some of our most vulnerable citizens,” Zink said.