Alaska Native youth practice traditional dance in the Alaska Native Heritage event space.

Alaska Native Heritage Center temporarily closes after two employees test positive for COVID-19

The Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) closed early on Friday, August 7, 2020, and will remain closed to the public for at least 72 hours due to two employees testing positive for COVID-19.

ANHC staff was notified of the first positive employee case late Tuesday night, said Emily Edenshaw, Executive Director. It had been more than 72 hours since that employee had been at the center, as the facility is closed to the public on Sundays and Mondays.

After the first positive case, ANHC followed its COVID-19 mitigation plan, including notifying the municipality and deeply cleaning the facility per CDC protocols for cleaning and disinfection. Edenshaw also notified staff of the positive case and encouraged them to consult with medical professionals if they were in contact with the individual.

A second employee learned of a positive test result on Friday, August 7. It is believed that the second employee had not been in contact with or worked near the first employee, however the facility was immediately closed.

“We are a small, tightly-knit team, truly bound together by the deeply personal work we do, and we are all thinking of the employees who are having this experience,” Edenshaw said. “We have invested so much energy in keeping each other safe, and closing our center in the interests of community safety and protecting each other was the prudent thing to do.”

ANHC was closed earlier this year due to COVID-19 mandates, and reopened to the public June 12 with a slew of safety measures in place including frequent cleaning of the facility and requiring masks in all common areas.

Edenshaw said the facility would remain closed until at least Tuesday and that she will reassess opening the ANHC at that time. During the closure, the facility will be deep cleaned and systems and processes for safety including the mitigation plan will be evaluated.

“On behalf of the ANHC board and staff, we want to say Quyana to our community for your continued support during these uncertain times,” Edenshaw said. “We are all in this together so please keep our employees in your thoughts and prayers.”