Six more COVID positives on Tustumena - Sailings delayed until June 27

Jun 9, 2020

Credit AMHS

After the Alaska State Ferry Tustumena returned to Homer Monday night a bit past 7 p.m., healthcare personnel from South Peninsula Hospital boarded in protective garb to take COVID-19 test samples from 40 crew members and the six passengers on board.
    According to the Alaska Department of Transportation, all were kept aboard the Tustumena overnight while the rapid tests were analyzed at SPH.
    In an announcement Tuesday, six additional crew members were reported to have come down with the disease, bringing the total to seven, including the first case, discovered when the Tustumena was in Unalaska on Saturday.
    The seven positive crew members will remain in isolation on the Tusty for two weeks, and are being monitored by medical professionals.
    The six passengers and the rest of the crew all tested negative. All the passengers disembarked, as did some of the crew. They will return home using private transportation and will self-monitor in quarantine for 14 days in coordination with the Alaska Section of Epidemiology.
    Some of the crew members who tested negative chose to remain on the Tusty to help support vessel operations. The ship will remain in port for two-and-a-half weeks.
    The Tustumena’s second sailing of the year was cut short after a crew member was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Saturday while the ship was in Unalaska.
    In just two two sailings from Homer this season, the Tustumena only made it through one and a half trips successfully. Nevertheless, ferry system chief Captain John Falvey said the Alaska Marine Highway System will continue to rely on the Covid-19 mitigation plans it had already drawn up before putting the Tustumena back into service.
     “You know, we do have an approved mitigation plan for all of our ships and we've been following that plan,” Falvey said. “And you know, that's what we're going to keep doing and hope, and hope that it doesn't happen again.”
    In an announcement Tuesday afternoon, the Marine Highway System said the Tustumena would resume sailing on June 27, with a round-trip to Kodiak. Until then it will remain tied up in Homer.