Skagway man with COVID-19 shares name with public to improve contact tracing

Mike O’Daniel (center) in rides in a float during a Fourth of July parade in Skagway. (Photo by Dan Fox)

Last week the Municipality of Skagway announced its first outbreak of COVID-19. There are currently five active cases. One of the people who tested positive let the municipality share his name with the public to speed up efforts to trace his contacts.

Mike O’Daniel learned he had been in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. He said he and his family started quarantining immediately.

“They called us for the test. We went up and took the test and then they gave us the results in about 30, 45 minutes,” O’Daniel said.

O’Daniel’s result came back positive, so he is now quarantining with his wife and son. He said his symptoms are mild, no worse than the common cold, and that his family is doing well.

He agreed to share his name with the public to help health officials find people who may have been exposed to the virus through his family’s hardware store.

“I’m working with people all the time. Everything from fixing appliances to loading lumber to working on a stove,” O’Daniel said. “People have kids and families and different things, so you just want them to best be able to have good information so they can do what they feel is necessary to do.”

In a press release, the Municipality of Skagway asked anyone who had been in contact with O’Daniel to contact the local clinic. Employees of the Skagway Hardware store were all tested for COVID-19. They all tested negative, and the store reopened for curbside service on Tuesday.

O’Daniel said he was not worried about the public knowing he had tested positive. He figured the news would get out quickly anyway in a town of about 1,000 people. He said close friends have called to check in and people have been empathetic.

“Right now, it’s just been kind of hunker down and kind of weather through this thing,” O’Daniel said. “We’ll go take our retest here next weekend and see where we are at from that and then another seven days after that.”

According to local health officials, there may have been community transmission of COVID-19 as late as Friday. The Municipality of Skagway has asked residents to shelter in place until October 24. That shelter in place could be extended if health officials find more evidence of community spread.