A Fort Wainwright official confirmed Friday there is active community spread of COVID-19 on post but would not state how many cases have been confirmed or how many are active.
According to a federal Department of Defense rule, military installations cannot publicly report how many individual cases there are and, as such, it remains unclear how many cases have been confirmed on the Fairbanks post.
Fort Wainwright confirmed its first cases of the disease in a video released June 16, noting the cases were part of a single household on post. Foundation Health Partners later confirmed all six COVID-19 cases reported from the Fairbanks area that day were from the same family.
"If it were to publicly be released and confirmed that 'X' number of family members or other workers tested positive, that could give individuals nefarious intent an idea of what our manpower is like," said Fort Wainwright spokeswoman Eve Baker. "We're allowed to say there are active cases. It's no longer a clear zone."
While not released to the public, the numbers are being reported to the state, Baker confirmed.
"We're not skipping that chain or anything, we're not keeping the numbers secret from the health agencies that are counting them," she said.
It remains unclear how the numbers are reported within state data and whether, for example, Fort Wainwright cases are included anonymously in the daily Fairbanks North Star Borough case count.
One of the undisclosed number of cases on the Army post is confirmed to be a health worker at Bassett Army Community Hospital, according to a post earlier this week on the hospital's official Facebook page.
"The employee, who reported symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to leadership, presented to the COVID-19 screening tent for testing. That testing confirmed a positive result," the Tuesday post reads.
Officials noted anyone who had come into contact with the employee would be contacted by the close of business Wednesday. It remains undisclosed if any new cases were confirmed from the employee's contacts.
With the increase in cases, Baker noted that Fort Wainwright is being more aggressive with safety precautions, including increased sanitation of surfaces, universal masking in all close-quarter buildings or areas where 6 feet of physical distance is not possible.
Sixteen new cases of the disease were reported in the Fairbanks North Star Borough on Friday.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.