The Fairbanks North Star Borough administration announced two employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
A Borough Assembly committee meeting scheduled for tonight is postponed and affected offices in the Juanita Helms Administration Center have been closed until Monday while offices are sanitized.
These are the first FNSB employees to be confirmed as having the disease. A FNSB announcement did not specify which departments were affected.
The administration was notified of the first worker on Wednesday, and sent an email message to other employees working in the building that they would not be able to come back to the JHAC until the affected areas were sanitized. On Thursday afternoon, the mayor's office was alerted to the second employee, who works at a different station from the first.
Borough Risk Management is working on contact tracing with public health workers to alert anyone who might have had close contact with the employees who are sick.
Borough Mayor Ward's office released two statements on Thursday, as staff members learned more information. In the afternoon, the mayor said, “With the goal of minimizing in-person interaction in enclosed spaces, it was necessary to close JHAC. The closure is to ensure that the building would be completely empty so that the cleaning contractor would be able to carry out a full sanitizing of the entire building. That type of deep cleaning needs to be done in a thorough manner with as few extra individuals in and around the building.”
The announcement says the building will be professionally sanitized over the weekend, using strict CDC guidelines for public buildings. Employees will not be allowed back into the area before Monday. The borough building has had locked doors and offices have been open only by appointment since March 15. Citizens with business in the building had to telephone borough staff members who would then open the doors as needed.
Due to the closure, committee presiding officer Marna Sanford canceled Thursday night’s Legislative Priorities Meeting. Assembly meetings will resume next week.
The borough administration has had a tight focus on COVID-19 prevention. Borough Mayor Bryce Ward is in a high-risk group, having been diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoma last December.
In his Wednesday evening email to employees, Borough Mayor Bryce Ward said, “Please continue to be safe. I strongly encourage you to wear a mask or cloth face covering, practice social distancing, be diligent about hand and face hygiene and do your best to keep your exposure to large groups of people limited.”
Borough Tax Notices recently were mailed to all property owners and included information on ways to pay taxes without having to physically come into the JHAC building. Online information on how to pay property taxes can be found here: http://www.fnsb.us/fs/Pages/Pay-Taxes-Online.aspx.
Participation in regularly scheduled assembly meetings will resume next week and will continue with established mitigation protocols in place to maintain social distancing and to limit the number of in person attendees. However, members of the public are encouraged to participate in these meetings via Zoom. Full information on how to participate via Zoom can be found here: http://www.fnsb.us/assembly/Pages/connected.aspx. If you have any questions regarding the Assembly Meeting schedule, please call 459-1401.
In the announcement, the administration reminded residents to abide by the current health guidelines as outlined by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect their health and the health of those around them. Additional information can also be found on the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services website: https://covid19.alaska.gov/.