2 cases of coronavirus confirmed in Fairbanks

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Earlier this evening Fairbanks Memorial Hospital held a press conference in conjunction with the Office of the Governor and Chief Medical Officer of Alaska Dr. Anne Zink to announce that two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Fairbanks.

According to Dr. Michael Burton of Fairbanks Memorial, the first patient sought treatment in the emergency room Sunday night and was subsequently tested for and diagnosed with COVID-19 Monday.

According to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital these individuals were traveling outside of the state when they contracted the virus. Both individuals are stable at this time and do not require hospitalization. They, along with their families, are currently quarantined and working with local health officials to retrace their steps.

Dr Anne Zink says both individuals had been back in Alaska for "a period of time" and had traveled "around different areas" which state health officials are working to identify as part of an ongoing investigation.

Zink says that anyone who may have had contact with the two individuals, both of whom she described as older males, will be contacted by the state's epidemiology team in the coming hours and days.

“I want to commend Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for its response to these two cases,” said Governor Dunleavy in a press release. “The preparation and training staff members have done not only in the recent weeks, but over the years has prepared them for today. We knew there would be cases in Alaska and over time we are expecting more cases.”

CMO Dr. Anne Zink went on to say, “Even as we expect more cases in Alaska, we must remember each case is a person diagnosed with COVID-19. Now and in the coming months we must always show compassion for the patients, but also the staff and the community. As we do this we must also remember the guidance we share with you in hopes of preventing and slowing the spread of this pandemic across our state.”

As always it is important to follow the guidelines set for travelers returning from out of state as well as everyday health procedures outlined by the CDC.

If you are at Medium Risk please take these precautions for travelers returning within 14 days from outside of Alaska (including the rest of the United States) you should:

- Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.

- Minimize contact with people as much as possible, self-monitor and practice social distancing.

- This may mean not going to work or school if you cannot safely be distanced from others – especially if you traveled in a location where community transmission is occurring.

By taking these precautions as well as following previous guidance including regular hand washing, cleaning surfaces and avoiding large gatherings we can hopefully keep ourselves and each other safe and healthy.

This is a developing story. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available about possible transmission points in the community and the potential for more cases.

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