Tusty crewmember COVID-19 positive; AMHS cancels future sailings

Jun 7, 2020

The M/V Tustumena in False Pass.
Credit By Gordon Leggett - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74580465

A crew member aboard the Alaska Marine Highway System Ferry Tustumena tested positive for COVID-19 Saturday in Dutch Harbor, causing the Department of Transportation to recall the vessel to Homer and bypassing scheduled stops along the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak. 

According to a press release, the crew member reported on Saturday that someone they had been in close contact with had tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, the crewmember on the Tustumena was displaying mild symptoms including a runny nose, cough and body aches, but they did not have a fever. 

The crew member was isolated on board, and a rapid test was conducted at about 5 p.m. Saturday and that test came back positive at 6 p.m. 

    The vessel has a crew of 35 and had “no more than” 60 passengers at any one time after sailing from Homer. The Marine Highway System says no passengers have been identified as a “close contact” to the infected crew member. Six passengers who boarded the Tusty in Homer are still on board and were asked to self-quarantine. They, along with the crew, were given medical screenings prior to departing Dutch Harbor. Passengers who boarded in Dutch Harbor were asked to disembark. 

Until it is disinfected, the Alaska Marine Highway System has cancelled future sailings of the Tustumena. Passengers with upcoming reservations will be contacted and their fares refunded. 

    The M/V Tustumena returned to service on Tuesday last week after a winter overhaul and was on its first trip of the year on the Southwest route. The vessel made stops in Kodiak, Chignik, Sand Point, King Cove, Cold Bay, False Pass, and Akutan, before arriving in Dutch Harbor Saturday morning. It will bypass all those stops on its return to Homer.