4 COVID-19 cases at Anchorage Pioneer Home

Flowers of different colors in front of the beige Anchorage Pioneer Home buildgin
The Anchorage Pioneer Home in July 2020. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Three residents and one employee at the Anchorage Pioneer Home have tested positive for the coronavirus, said the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

The first case was identified Wednesday afternoon, and the other three positives were detected during the subsequent testing of residents and staff, said the health department in a statement on Thursday.

The three residents live in “the same neighborhood” in the building in downtown Anchorage, the statement said. That area is separated from others, and all the positive patients are now in isolation.

The Pioneer Home has already completed testing on all residents in the area of those infected, the health department said. Routine testing of the other residents and workers will be completed Thursday, according to the department.

In July, the state reopened Alaska’s Pioneer Homes to limited in-person visitation. But, the Anchorage Pioneer Home said at the time that it wouldn’t be reopening due to high case rates in the city.

The health department says the Anchorage home has been closed to visitors since March 17.

The Pioneer Home system serves Alaskans age 65 and older, and the Anchorage Pioneer Home says on its website that its oldest resident is 104. It has capacity for 168 residents.

According to the CDC, older people are more susceptible to the symptoms of COVID-19 and nursing home populations are at particularly high risk for outbreaks.

There has been only one other positive case in the state’s Pioneer Home system, the health department said. It occurred in Fairbanks in June and was reported in an employee.

In May, a large COVID-19 outbreak developed among residents at a transitional care facility in Anchorage.

Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.

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