Virus outbreak reaches highest risk level in Alaska town

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KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — Restaurants, bars and gyms in the Alaska port town of Ketchikan have been asked to close as officials attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 after the city’s pandemic risk level was raised to its highest level.

Local public health officials reported 15 new cases in the community on Tuesday, bumping the total number of active cases to 77 as of that evening. Officials said one person was in the COVID-19 unit at a hospital.

Ketchikan’s test positivity rate was an all-time high of 4.43% on Tuesday, up from 4.14% on Monday.

Two schools were set to close to in-person learning for the rest of the week and many public facilities were also shuttered. Local fields were closed to organized sports and events with more than 20 people were discouraged.

Officials also asked restaurants, bars, personal services and gyms to close, but the recommendations were not mandatory.

At least three COVID-19 clusters are driving the increased transmission, including one centered on the high school, according to authorities.

Cases increased in connection with an outbreak at a wrestling tournament held at Ketchikan High School in April that brought athletes from seven different schools across the region. Officials issued a warning to the school involving the wearing of masks and the testing of competitors.

Contact tracing showed that at least five people who attended the tournament were infected with the virus at the time, authorities said.

Of the 15 new cases reported Tuesday, officials said two involved close contacts to a person who already had COVID-19, three were a result of community spread and 10 were under investigation.

The Associated Press

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