By Larry Persily
Sentinel writer 

Cruise ship COVID-19 case count rises to 10


July 22, 2021

The COVID-19 case count among the 214 passengers and crew who were aboard the American Constellation’s Southeast Alaska cruise the second week of July has risen to 10, as the ship prepared this week to end its 10-day quarantine in Juneau and resume voyages.

Of the 10, four isolated in Petersburg, which was where the first case was discovered on July 8, and six isolated in Juneau, the City and Borough of Juneau reported July 15.

The 267-foot-long ship, operated by American Cruise Lines, tied up in Juneau on July 10 after cutting short its voyage so that the crew could quarantine, while allowing uninfected passengers to disembark and fly home.

Neither the company nor Petersburg or Juneau officials have disclosed how many of the 10 cases were crew members and how many were passengers.

The company required all of its passengers to get fully vaccinated before traveling, but according to public health officials did not require the same for its crew.

However, at least two of the COVID-19 cases were fully vaccinated individuals, health officials said.

The change in operating plans meant the ship canceled its July 11-12 stopover in Wrangell. The American Constellation is not scheduled to return to Wrangell until Sept. 7-8.

While docked in Juneau, 43 crew remained on board, in isolation from the community.

The crew members were retested July 15, with no additional cases reported, according to Juneau officials.

“The good news story about the American Constellation is the cases were identified very early,” Bryan Fisher, the state’s director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said in the state’s weekly COVID-19 update.

“The company made the right decision to terminate the rest of that cruise and to isolate the folks that tested positive,” Fisher said, as reported by public radio station KTOO in Juneau.

Juneau officials said the isolated cluster presented a “low” potential risk of exposure to the community.

The ship had been in Haines two days before the first case was reported in Petersburg. “There is limited concern of community spread given the date of the test and arrival into Haines,” the Haines Borough said in a prepared statement the day the ship went into quarantine in Juneau. “Public Health is not recommending any additional safety precautions for Haines at this time.”

American Cruise Lines allowed passengers to leave the boat in Petersburg for tourist activities the day after the first case was reported because the travelers were all fully vaccinated, according to the Petersburg Medical Center.


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