By Gretchen Wehmhoff

This is a developing story.

UPDATED 6:19 p.m. 10/20/20

The Skagway Emergency Operations Center (EOC) reports there are no new known positive cases of COVID-19 in Skagway as of 5 p.m. today. Dahl Memorial Clinic (DMC) has administered 820 tests so far. 815 were negative. Five were the recent positive tests.

DMC asks that non-urgent appointments be deferred until after October 28th.

The clinic also advises their patients to continue to take and refill their medications. Those with serious heart or lung conditions and those who recently had surgery or need prenatal care should keep appointments or speak to their provider.

If anyone has a medical emergency or experiences COVID symptoms, they should call the clinic, or after hours, call 911 or 983-2025.

The EOC reminds residents that if anyone was considered by Public Health or DMC to be a close contact of a COVID positive patient, they must quarantine for 14 days. Additional testing is not allowed to shorten that time.

The shelter in place order remains in effect until Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 8:00 AM. If additional evidence of community transmission is identified this shelter in place may be extended.

UPDATED 6:01 p.m. 10/18/20

As of Sunday evening, the Dahl Memorial Clinic (DMC) has identified no additional positive cases of COVID-19.

The Skagway Emergency Operations Center (EOC) press release states that there was potential transmission as late as Oct. 16, and that all positive cases reported in Skagway are considered community transmission cases.

Considering the potential transmission possibilities, the shelter-in-place order will remain in place until Oct. 24 at 8 a.m. EOC could extend the order if there is evidence of additional community transmission.

DMC says individuals with symptoms such as those listed in Saturday’s update should contact the on duty provider at 907-983-2025 immediately. All other calls can go to 983-2255.

DMC says there are no regular tests scheduled for Monday.

If there are no changes to the situation, EOC’s next update will be Tuesday.

UPDATED 5:24 p.m. 10/17/20

The Dahl Memorial Clinic (DMC) reports two more cases have been confirmed in Skagway, for a total of five positive cases, all of which are considered to be community spread.

DMC is continuing to test residents who have had contact with those who have tested positive. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will provide updated testing information on Sunday, Oct. 18.

DMC and the EOC continue to urge individuals to monitor their heath and close contacts. They should call Dahl Memorial clinic at 907-983-2255 immediately if they develop cold or flu symptoms, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pressure or tightness, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache or loss of taste or smell.

UPDATED 2:48 p.m. 10/17/20

In a press release from the municipality, Dahl Memorial Clinic reports that it has received permission from the third positive coronavirus case to to release his name.

Mike O’Daniel is sharing his identity to an effort to assist DMC and the community in contract tracing. DMC and MOS urge residents to start keeping a log of their contacts in the event you test positive for COVID-19.

DMC is asking community members to contact DMC if they were in close contact with O’Daniel from Oct. 8 through today. The number is 907-982-2255, ext. 0. Per DMC, close contact is considered to be spending more than 15 minutes total within 6 feet of a COVID positive patient, with or without masks. Additionally, close contacts should:

  1. Stay away from people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
  2. Watch for symptoms and check your temperature twice a day for 14 days after last contact. Symptoms, which can start up to 14 days after exposure, can include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pressure or tightness, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
  3. If you develop any of these symptoms, stay home, except to get tested as soon as possible. You may be infectious to others for two days BEFORE and 10 days AFTER you get sick. Do not go to work or public places. You can easily spread COVID-19 before you feel any symptoms.

DMC and MOS urge residents to start keeping a log of their contacts in the event they test positive for COVID-19.

The EOC has scheduled another update at 5 p.m.

UPDATED 11:06 a.m. 10/17/20

The Municipality of Skagway reported this morning that a third case of COVID-19 has been confirmed by the Dahl Memorial Clinic (DMC). The clinic is currently testing multiple community members who were identified as having close contact to a known COVID-19 infected person. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will provide updates at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. today. Family members will be notified before the EOC releases their report.

In a Facebook post this morning, Skagway Hardware reported that an employee has tested positive and they will be temporarily closing, citing community safety.

“Our employees will be getting tested and we will reopen after we receive some negative results.”

The Skagway News will post an update after the EOC press releases.

It is the policy of The Skagway News to honor the privacy of those impacted and not report identities unless the infected person identifies themself directly to us or information is made public by the EOC.

UPDATED 1:13 p.m. 10/16/20

A second case of COVID-19 was reported by Dahl Memorial Clinic after a presumptive positive test. The case has been reported to the State department of Epidemiology and the clinic is working with the State Department of Public Health with contact tracing. It is believed this case, like the first case, was community spread.

UPDATED 3:26 p.m. 10/15/20

Yesterday, Skagway was among three counties or boroughs in the United States who had not had a COVID case. That was yesterday.

This afternoon, The Municipality of Skagway Emergency Operations Center (EOC) reported that Dahl Memorial Clinic has identified Skagway’s first positive case of COVID-19. According to the EOC, the case is likely community spread, so they have initiated their protocol for the scenario.

Skagway residents are to shelter-in-place for a minimum of seven days. This is defined on the EOC publication as “no group gatherings, limiting all contact outside of immediate family units and staying home as much as possible except to work in a critical job, receiving health care and/or to get fresh air without contacting others.”

Residents are also to continue to maintain social distancing, wear cloth face coverings and wash hands often.

The emergency protocol states that all businesses are closed to public access. Curbside pick up and delivery is permitted for non-critical businesses

For critical businesses, masks are mandatory for all employees and customers.

A number of businesses marked as critical will remain open such as Alaska Seaplanes, Fairway Market, Grizzlys, the U.S. Post Office, Skagway Hardware, Wells Fargo Bank and You Say Tomato as well as other businesses defined in Resolution 20-11R, such as medical facilities, emergency responders and the media.

DAHL CLINIC CLOSED FOR 48 Hours

Dahl Memorial Clinic has closed for 48 hours in order to test staff, communicate with the Division of Public Heath and to disinfect the clinic.

A statement from Dahl noted that Public Health considers a close contact to be someone who spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of a COVID positive person with or without masks.

Around 12:45 p.m. Thursday, parents started receiving phone calls from Skagway School asking them to pick up their children.

Posts on Facebook from Skagway businesses mentioned new hours and new instructions due to the COVID-19 case.

Any person who is identified in the contract tracing as to having had close contact with the infected person will be notified. According to the State Department of Public Health, those who have been at risk will undergo two-test protocol or will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The typical incubation period (from infection to symptom onset) for COVID-19 is two to 14 days.

The EOC statement issued this afternoon says their goal is to minimize risk and to control the spread of COVID-19.

“This is something we have been preparing for since February.”

The other U.S. counties still COVID-19 free are Esmeralda County in Nevada and Loving County in Texas.