Feds to help tackle virus outbreak among Anchorage homeless

Words on a building red building that say "Brother Francis Shelter. 1021 E. 3rd Ave."
Brother Francis Shelter in Anchorage, Alaska (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage will receive federal support to aid in the suppression of a coronavirus outbreak in its homeless population.

There have been 168 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Anchorage’s homeless shelters and at least one death. Roughly 100 of those cases are associated with an outbreak at the Brother Francis Shelter, said Anchorage Health Department Epidemiologist Janet Johnston.

In response, the city was assigned three employees from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and one from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The four federal staffers will help with on-site epidemiology, contact tracing and other management of the city’s outbreak, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The staffers will be in Anchorage for at least two weeks and can stay longer if necessary.

The state reported 97 new confirmed cases and one new confirmed death on Friday, according to its Department of Health and Social Services coronavirus dashboard. There are currently 3,918 active cases and 43 people have died in the state due to complications from the coronavirus.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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