Cluster of COVID-19 cases sends Metlakatla into lockdown

A structure, with mountains in the background, painted with Tlingit art.
Metlakatla’s longhouse on Oct. 3, 2020. (Eric Stone/KRBD)

The Southeast Alaska community of Metlakatla has gone into lockdown after confirming seven new COVID-19 cases on Monday, according to a public notice by the Metlakatla Indian Community. Of those seven, one has been hospitalized.

The Monday night notice urged the public to stay home for 72 hours or until contact tracing is completed and spread of the virus has been contained.

Metlakatla is a community of roughly 1,500 located about 15 miles south of Ketchikan. It currently has nine active COVID cases. It broke a month-and-half streak of no active cases on July 30. 

As part of Metlakatla’s COVID mitigation plan, businesses must submit a safety plan to the mayor or close their doors during the lockdown. Also, this year’s Founder’s Day Celebration — which was originally postponed to Aug. 14 — will be canceled, according to a statement from Metlakatla Indian Community Mayor Reginald Atkinson. 

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Since the start of the pandemic, Metlakatla has recorded 61 people with COVID-19. At least two-thirds of all Metlakatla residents are fully vaccinated, according to the Annette Island Service Unit. When it comes to just residents 12 and up — those eligible for the vaccines — more than 75% are fully vaccinated.

COVID numbers continue to rise across Alaska, with 258 new infections recorded on Monday, according to the state health department’s data update Tuesday. The state also reported that Alaskan has died from COVID-19, a man from Tok in his 70s. Statewide, there were 115 people with coronavirus in the hospital.

Last week, an outbreak of COVID-19 led to a lockdown in the Western Alaska village of Stebbins.

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