State posted positive Dillingham COVID-19 case by mistake

May 6, 2020

Bristol Bay has no reported COVID-19 cases as of May 6. The state inadvertently posted a practice COVID-19 test result for the Dillingham area to its raw test data site.

 

 

Kanakanak Hospital in Dillingham. 2019.
Credit Austin Fast/KDLG

Bristol Bay has no reported COVID-19 cases as of May 6.  But Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services inadvertently posted a practice COVID-19 test result for the Dillingham area to its raw test data site. That led to some confusion in a region where anxiety over the spread of coronavirus during the upcoming fishing season is high. 

The test result was positive, but it was not from a real patient. Instead, it was a practice result that was sent over to the state’s raw data site and labeled as “positive” to ensure that the electronic reporting stream was working, according to Louisa Castrodale with the Division of Public Health.

Castrodale said in an email that positive results from real patients are called into staff so they can “begin an investigation and connect directly with the health care providers and patients.”

 

The Bristol Bay region has limited health care capacity. Its sole hospital has 12 in-patient beds and two emergency ventilators for use on coronavirus patients. As fishermen and workers travel to the region for the fishing season, communities are working to implement additional safety measures, like 14-day quarantine and travel guidelines, to protect residents from a potential outbreak of the virus. 

 

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.