Although there are no known active COVID-19 cases in Haines, in recent weeks, four residents have tested positive for the virus while traveling outside the community, including police chief Heath Scott.

Scott tested positive after attending a law enforcement leadership training program in Georgia from Dec. 1-12.

“When you come back into Alaska, you’re mandated to bring a negative test result with you or test at the airport. I tested at the airport upon arriving in Juneau on Saturday (Dec. 12),” Scott said. “I had to stay overnight and wait for a flight the next day. I was physically at the Seaplanes terminal when I was notified that two classmates that I had in Georgia had tested positive.”

Scott said he began quarantining the same day at the Best Western in Juneau. On Tuesday, Dec. 15, he received a positive test result.

He said his symptoms were very mild. “For me, it was like a really mild flu where I was more just tired, kind of achy, but I didn’t lose my sense of smell. I didn’t lose my sense of taste. I did have a little bit of a stuffy nose that has moved into my chest now, but other than that it was really, really mild.”

Scott said he thinks it’s likely he contracted the disease at the leadership training academy.

“There was a masking and social distancing policy at the training, but when we were offsite in groups, we would eat together. You don’t have your masks on during those times,” he said.

Staff from the state’s Division of Public Health remained in contact with Scott during his quarantine period in Juneau.

A person is thought to be no longer contagious and cleared to leave quarantine 10 days after the onset of symptoms, or 10 days after they test positive for those who are asymptomatic, according to public health nurse Elaine Hickey.

Scott said he estimated his symptoms began Thursday, Dec. 10. He was able to return to Haines Monday morning. He said he’s feeling better but plans to remain extra vigilant about masking for the next week or so.

Despite the stigma attached to contracting COVID-19, Scott said he felt it was important to be open about the experience.

“I wanted to be honest with friends and family as a means of education through experience, letting them know this is what occurred with me,” he said, adding that he feels lucky his symptoms were so mild.

On Dec. 18, the Emergency Operations Center notified the community that a Haines resident located in the Interior tested positive for COVID-19. Like Scott and the other two cases reported in recent weeks, the resident had “not been in Haines recently.”

Community members who wish to receive a COVID-19 test can contact the Haines Health Center to schedule an appointment.