Matanuska ferry crew members test positive for COVID-19

The Matanuska docked on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020 at the Auke Bay ferry terminal in Juneau, before the ship headed to Ketchikan for repairs. (Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Two crew members aboard the Matanuska tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend after the state ferry left Bellingham for ports in Southeast Alaska, according to state officials.

The Alaska Department of Transportation released a statement Monday saying a member of the ship’s crew began showing symptoms of the illness Saturday, after leaving Bellingham. The crew member quarantined in their cabin and tested positive when the ship reached Ketchikan the following day.

Additional testing revealed one other case of COVID-19 among the engineering crew.

Contact tracers with the state and Ketchikan’s Emergency Operations Center found no passengers had been in close contact with the positive cases.

According to the Alaska Marine Highway System, the two crew members who tested positive will isolate for at least 10 days. One is quarantined in a Ketchikan hotel and the second quarantined aboard the Matanuska until returning to Juneau to isolate at home. The rest of the Matanuska’s crew will receive follow-up COVID-19 tests in Ketchikan Wednesday.

Response to the ship’s COVID-19 cases delayed its itinerary by about 11 hours before the mainliner ferry resumed sailings to ports in Southeast Alaska.

On Monday afternoon, DOT officials reported 42 passengers and 32 vehicles had disembarked in Ketchikan, Petersburg and Wrangell. The department did not provide passenger numbers for Juneau, Haines or Skagway.

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