ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska state health officials confirmed at a Friday press briefing that the state’s first coronavirus patient, an airline pilot for a private cargo company, stayed at an Anchorage hotel.
“We do not believe that there has been significant exposure to the community,” Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said. “We feel like everyone who was in contact with this individual is being cooperative, is being safely monitored, as well as self-quarantining at this time.”
State officials had not released any specific details about the hotel before Friday. Gov. Mike Dunleavy said his office received a press release from the Sheraton Hotel just before walking into the afternoon press briefing. The governor did not confirm when the patient, who is identified as a male "foreign national" was at the hotel or how long he stayed.
KTUU has contacted the Sheraton Hotel for further information. We will update this story with their response.
Dr. Zink spoke indirectly about exposure risks for hotel guests.
“In protection for businesses, for communities, if we felt like for any reason there was any risk and we needed to notify the public, absolutely,” Zink said. “Our first and foremost goal is the health of all Alaskans, but we also want to respect individuals as well as businesses.”
Zink allayed concerns for those who have traveled to or from the airport. Cargo crews are cleared through the North Terminal of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and do not come into contact with commercial flight passengers.
An airport spokesperson confirmed Friday that the pilot was traveling with at least one other crew member, and that the other cargo crew member or crew members have likely left Alaska. State officials still have not responded to multiple inquiries into whether the crew was tested for coronavirus.
Recent patients at Alaska Regional Hospital do not need to be concerned, according to Zink, as the hospital began implementing screening procedures to prevent viral spread before admitting the patient who tested positive for the virus.
As of March 13, there is only one confirmed coronavirus case in Alaska. 143 tests have been administered between state and commercial or academic testing facilities — all but one of which have come back negative for the virus.
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