Novel coronavirus

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab.

Credit: NIAID-RML

Two members of the Seward-based band Blackwater Railroad Company have tested positive for COVID-19 after playing a packed show at local Fairbanks bar and outdoor music venue The Boatel last week. 

The popular “newgrass” folk band played on the outdoor stage for a crowd of more than 100 on June 19. The group had played two shows in Palmer and one in Seward the week before, where a reported more than 500 people attended the shows in Palmer. 

The band made a public post to its Facebook page Thursday evening announcing that one member of the band tested positive and urged Fairbanks concert-goers from the weekend before to get tested. 

“Hello BWRR Family. Our show last weekend at the Boatel in Fairbanks was our last show of the summer. With the impending spike of COVID, we thought it best to cancel all our events until at least September. The Boatel did such a great job limited the amount of tickets sold and promoting social distancing. Regardless, one of our bandmates has tested positive for COVID,” the band wrote. “Any folks who were at our last show in Fairbanks, we suggest you get tested to be sure. Our bandmate is on the mend and we hope to be playing shows this fall if possible. Thank you all for all the support and we will see you somewhere down the road. Stay safe friends.”

The band member was not symptomatic at the time of the shows. Only after returning home from the brief tour did the member begin experiencing symptoms, get tested and receive a positive result. 

The band member, Tyson Davis, made a public post to his Facebook page announcing his test results and encouraging contacts to get tested. He later posted additional information about where Seward residents can be tested. 

“Hello Seward friends. There’s no easy way to say this. I woke up not feeling well yesterday, started self quarantining, got a doctors appointment, got tested this morning and found out that I have tested positive for the Coronavirus,” Davis wrote Thursday afternoon. “If you have come into contact with me in the last two weeks, please go get tested at your earliest opportunity. I will be quarantined at least for the next two weeks,” he wrote. “I thought I was taking precautions and being safe but apparently not safe enough. Though we had already canceled all of our BWRR shows for the rest of the summer... I was still too late. I’m cancelling all my shows for the foreseeable future. I don’t mean to alarm any one with this post but I felt obligated to let my community know as soon as I found out. They are doing free testing even without insurance at Seward Community Health at Providence. Please be safe.”

A second member of the band also tested positive, according to a report from Alaska Public Media. 

It remains unknown where Davis contracted the disease and for how long he had the disease before testing positive. 

The Boatel posted Thursday evening to its public Facebook page informing followers and the public of the situation. 

“we want to thank bwrr for their terrific show last friday [heart emoji] we kept a barrier between the stage and customers and of course a limited capacity. unfortunately a member of bwrr tested positive for covid today,” The Boatel’s post reads. “since they played at our venue last weekend we wanted to make people aware. we hope they feel better soon and send them all the love (heart emoji).”

The Daily News-Miner reached out to the Boatel Friday morning to ask about further concerts and whether this incident may change concert protocol. The bar declined to comment.

The state Department of Health and Social Services issued a statewide advisory Friday afternoon encouraging anyone who has frequented two bars in Seward to seek testing.

Patrons and employees who frequented the Seward Alehouse on Sunday, June 21, and Tuesday, June 23, from 12-7 p.m. and Monday, June 22, from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. and the Yukon Bar at any time on Tuesday, June 23, are encouraged to get tested even if they are not showing symptoms.

Both Seward cases were tallied in Friday’s daily COVID-19 case count.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.

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