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Skagway, Alaska, reports 1st COVID-19 case

Skagway, Alaska, confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Thursday. Residents were told to shelter in place while officials do contact tracing.

Residents told to limit activity until contact tracing finished

Skagway, Alaska, confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus on Thursday. (Steve Silva/CBC)

Skagway, Alaska, confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Thursday.

Residents were told to shelter in place while officials do contact tracing, said a news release from the municipality. This means staying home as much as possible, and limiting business to only essential needs.

Mayor Andrew Cremata said residents were prepared for the news, and the municipal government assumed the community would get a COVID case earlier.

"You can't escape a pandemic," Cremata said. "It's going to get you sooner or later."

He hopes to have contact tracing done within 24 to 48 hours. 

In the meantime, he said local residents can do things like go for a hike, but should get groceries delivered if necessary.

"We just want people to stay with their families, hold their pets on their laps, and have as little contact with their neighbours as possible," Cremata said.

The news release contained no details about the person affected.

'You can't escape a pandemic,' said Andrew Cremata, mayor of Skagway. (Submitted by Andrew Cremata)

Cremata said there has already been a "huge round of testing," with all results negative so far.

He said travel into and out of Skagway has been limited recently, but there are still people coming and going.

"More than people would suspect for this time of year," he said.

The town has offered testing when people arrive, he said, but rapid tests don't always pick up recent exposures.

Cremata said the shelter-in-place order will be in effect for as long as necessary.

Alaska as a whole has reported 10,323 COVID-19 cases among residents and 65 deaths.

The only road connecting Skagway to the rest of the state goes through Yukon, but a spokesperson for Yukon's health department said Skagway's COVID-19 case is not a major concern.

"One case in itself does not increase the risk [in Yukon], and keep in mind [the] border is closed except for specific reasons," said spokesperson Pat Living.

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