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

Updated 5:37 p.m.: Three employees of Fairbanks health care facilities have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two days.

Two of the employees work at Tanana Valley Clinic and one works at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, according to Foundation Health Partners, which operates the facilities.

Both clinic employees who tested positive Thursday were asymptomatic while working and began self-isolating as soon as they felt symptoms, according to the foundation. Neither of the workers is a health care provider, according to Foundation Health Partners spokeswoman Kelly Atlee.

One of the clinic employees came into contact with an estimated 44 patients during the time it's assumed the person was contagious. The patients are being contacted.

Thirty of the patients are estimated to be at "estimated no risk," meaning the group is at no more risk than if interacting within the Fairbanks community, the hospital estimates.

The other 14 patients are estimated to be at "low risk" as all proper personal protective equipment requirements were followed during patient visits.

All patients will be able to be tested for the disease for free, the news release notes.

Foundation Health Parters and the state Division of Public Health urge the 14 "low risk" patients to observe a 14-day quarantine just in case.

All employees within the two impacted departments of Tanana Valley Clinic have been notified and are being tested.

The Fairbanks Memorial Hospital employee has been asymptomatic for the duration of her infection so far. After coming into contact with what she later learned to be a COVID-19 positive person outside the hospital, the hospital worker took a precautionary test and began isolating thereafter. She tested positive and remains in isolation.

"The employee did not have any contact with patients or anyone in the facility during the period of contagion, or window during which she was contagious," a Friday news release from Foundation Health Partners reads.

The third case is not related to the two clinic employees who tested positive Thursday.

The state of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported two new cases of COVID-19 in residents of the Fairbanks North Star Borough –– one from Fairbanks and one from North Pole –– on Friday, reflecting data collected the day before.

It is likely, but currently unclear, whether the two Fairbanks cases in the latest report are the two Tanana Valley Clinic employee cases reported by Foundation Health Partners on Thursday. Daily state updates encompass the 24-hour period ending at 11:59 p.m. of the previous day.

Including the Fairbanks and North Pole cases, the state confirmed a total of 26 new cases Friday: 14 state residents and 12 nonresidents.

The other 12 resident cases consist of six residents of Anchorage and one resident each from Big Lake, the Bethel Census Area, Haines, Homer, Palmer and the North Slope Borough.

These new cases bring the state resident case total to 722, 35% of which remain active.

State health officials also reported 12 new nonresident cases Friday, bringing the total number of nonresidents to test positive in the state of Alaska to 101.

The nonresident cases consist of seven seafood industry workers based in the Bristol Bay Borough and Lake and Peninsula Borough, one seafood industry worker and one visitor in Anchorage, one seafood industry worker in the Valdez-Cordova Census area, one seafood industry worker in the Wrangell-Petersburg Census area and another seafood industry worker whose location in still under investigation.

No new deaths were reported Friday. Four new hospitalizations reported Friday bring the state's cumulative total of state residents hospitalized due to the disease to 60.

State data shows 18 people are currently hospitalized either for a confirmed case of the disease or who are under investigation and awaiting test results.

About half of the state's inpatient hospital beds and intensive care unit beds are in use. This includes both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.

Last week after a resident of the Fairbanks Pioneers' Home tested positive, all residents and staff were tested. The results have all come back negative, according to state data Friday.

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