A new wave of COVID-19 cases was announced Wednesday by Skagway’s health clinic. This comes on the heels of a federal judge’s decision to abolish mask mandates in the transportation industry, and it comes less than a week before this summer’s cruise season is scheduled to begin.
Skagway’s Dahl Memorial Clinic’s medical director Brent Kunzler says the city is in one of its biggest outbreaks of the pandemic with up to 30 residents testing positive since the first week of April.
‘What I have seen are mostly children, some adults. It seems to be affecting the kids a little harder this time around, ”Kunzler said.
He says it is difficult to find an exact number of cases with the increased use of quick home tests.
The clinic on Wednesday released a public announcement in which it advised residents to wash their hands thoroughly, be vaccinated and boosted and wear masks where social distance is difficult to maintain.
Also announced Wednesday was a ruling by a federal judge removing the mask mandate in the transportation industry. That The Alaska Marine Highway System immediately joined with many airlines advertising masks would be optional going forward.
With Skagway’s cruise season set to begin next week, it leaves residents in charge of their own health protection, as state units have mostly stepped away from the arena.
Kunzler says he is not sure which variants are responsible for the current rise in Skagway, as rapid tests do not test for specific strains, but he acknowledges that COVID is still highly contagious.
“I do not see it disappearing for the time being, and it certainly is not, right?” Kunzler asked.
There are no public masking requirements in place in Skagway, including at City Hall. Companies have the option of requiring masks on site.
That CDC still suggest isolation for five days after the onset of symptoms or a positive COVID test, followed by five days wearing a mask in public for most people. It also suggests wearing masks indoors and on public transportation.
Vaccines and boosters, including another round of boosters for people over the age of 50, are available at Dahl Memorial Clinic by appointment. Rapid tests are also available by appointment, and the clinic offers several COVID treatments that must be administered within a few days of the onset of symptoms to be effective. Skagway Traditional Council offers COVID-19 testing for free from 2pm to 4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.