Fairbanks Pioneer Home reports 28-person COVID-19 cluster

A building with an Amerian Flag out front
Fairbanks Pioneer Home (Photo from DHSS)

Twenty-eight people at the Fairbanks Pioneer Home tested positive for COVID-19, the Department of Health and Social Services announced Tuesday.  

That number includes 9 residents and 19 staff members. The first case of the cluster was reported two weeks ago and after that employees were tested twice weekly regardless of symptoms. 

On Monday, DHSS said that residents started being tested twice a week, regardless of symptoms. 

The news comes as COVID-19 cases have surged across the state, including in Fairbanks. State data shows that Fairbanks reported a record-high 55 new cases in one day on Monday. 

“We are stressing the importance of infection control procedures within the home and safe practices when staff are out in the community. However, increased cases in Fairbanks make it very challenging to keep COVID-19 out of the facility since our staff live and interact within the community where the disease is spreading,” said Deputy Commissioner Clinton Lasley in a press release from DHSS.

Staff who tested positive are self-isolating at home, and residents who tested positive are isolated at the facility with dedicated staffing. DHSS said in a release that the home is also enhancing its use of PPE and is ramping up its sanitization protocols. 

According to DHSS, the Alaska Veterans and Pioneer Home in Palmer is the only other home currently with a case after a staff member tested positive over the weekend.

The Anchorage Pioneer Home, which experienced a large outbreak earlier this summer, hasn’t had a new case of COVID-19 for two weeks, according to DHSS. 

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