Passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 boarded planes from Sitka to Seattle

An Alaska Airlines plane.
An Alaska Airlines plane.(Alaskan Airlines Twitter account)
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 9:27 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska Airlines said a passenger arrived in Seattle on Tuesday who was able to board a plane out of Alaska after testing positive for COVID-19, and was stopped from flying to their final destination in the Lower 48

The passenger tested positive for the virus on Monday before boarding a flight out of Sitka early Tuesday morning, according to a letter written by a Sitka public health nurse that was published in the Daily Sitka Sentinel.

According to the letter, which has since circulated on social media, the visitor was given their positive test result and isolation instructions on Monday but boarded the plane Tuesday morning with three symptomatic traveling companions.

Alaska Airlines said it learned of the COVID-19-positive passenger from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday while the flight was en route to Seattle, and that the company prevented the person from continuing on to their next destination.

Alaska Airlines wrote in a statement that the passenger had been on flight 73 from Sitka to Juneau, which connected to flight 60 from Juneau to Seattle.

“No Alaska employees, including those in Sitka and Juneau, were aware that a guest who had tested positive for COVID-19 had boarded the flight until the CDC contacted us,” the Alaska Airlines statement read. “Our medical experts have reiterated that the risk of transmission for anyone who was not in close contact with this passenger remains low. Safety of our guests, flight crews and station employees are our top priority.”

A management team for the company met the passenger when the flight landed in Seattle and informed them they would not be allowed to board their next flight.

Several Southeast Alaska communities are in the midst of a spike in COVID-19 cases, including Sitka and Juneau. Sitka recently raised its alert level to high, and the City and Borough of Juneau this week began requiring masks to be worn inside city buildings again.

Craig Warren, Sitka’s city incident commander, earlier on Wednesday told Alaska’s News Source that the increase in COVID-19 cases there lately has been exponential. Robert Barr, Juneau’s deputy city manager, said that city is considering whether to raise the city’s alert level to moderate.

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