Three more COVID-19 cases in Ketchikan bring statewide tally to 17

Ketchikan Gateway Borough offices are in the White Cliff building. An employee who works in the building was the first diagnosed case in the small town, his wife and a coworker later had positive diagnoses. (KRBD file photo)

Ketchikan-area officials are urging residents to “hunker down and shelter in place” after announcing three new coronavirus cases Saturday afternoon. That brings Ketchikan’s total to six cases.

It also brings the known statewide case tally to 17.

In a media release, the community’s joint emergency operations center said all three new cases are close contacts of previously identified cases. The mayor of Saxman, along with Ketchikan’s city and borough mayors, are “strongly urging the citizens of Ketchikan to hunker down, shelter in place, and stay home, in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.” They’re also urging non-essential businesses to close.

Emergency services and grocery stores will remain open, the release said. Officials worry that the number of COVID-19 cases in Ketchikan is growing exponentially, according to the release.

Related: Read more coronavirus coverage from Alaska Public Media.

“If the growth continues at the current rate, by the end of the week Ketchikan could have over 20 positive cases of COVID-19 in the community,” the release said. “We need to stop the spread now.”

A health mandate issued by state officials on Friday also restricts gatherings of more than 10 people in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.

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