An emergency alert from Gov. Mike Dunleavy appeared on most Alaskans’ phone screens this morning. The alert contained a link to a YouTube video in which the governor urged Alaskans to take stronger steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the coming weeks.
“If we are going to keep our hospitals running and businesses open, all Alaskans must return to the same mindset that worked so well this past spring,” Dunleavy said.
“My job as governor of Alaska is not to tell you how to live your life. My job is to secure the safety and security of Alaska.”
Dunleavy did not lay out any new statewide mandates or requirements, but he did note that a new disaster declaration takes effect on Monday and that state and government employees should work from home whenever possible.
The alert caused some confusion in Kodiak. The Kodiak Island Borough School District leaders interpreted the governor’s urging of all government business to be conducted online to apply to schools as well.
But they later learned from Education Commissioner Michael Johnson and Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink that schools were not necessarily included.
“We understood it as a mandate to close for three weeks,” Superintendent Larry LeDoux said.
“Then I met with the commissioner and Dr. Anne Zink and they indicated that it was not intended to apply to schools. We’ll be open tomorrow.”
Several schools sent out notices today that schools would be online, but the district later posted online that schools would be back in person on Friday as planned.
At today’s Emergency Operations Center update, Director Mike Tvenge continued to urge local businesses to make employees and customers wear masks while inside.
“We recommend that all businesses, retails and other organizations that serve the public require employees and patrons to wear a mask,” he said.
The Teen Center, the ice rink at Baranof Park and the swimming pool will all open on Friday and resume service under their respective mitigation plans, Tvenge said.
Kodiak reported three new cases of the virus today. That means the archipelago has 20 active cases and has recorded 154 cases since the start of the pandemic.
One of the new cases was a close contact of a previous case, another is still under investigation, and the other was infected through community spread, meaning they aren’t sure where they got the virus.
Statewide, the Department of Health and Social Services reported 493 new cases of the virus and four new deaths on Wednesday. Of those four deaths, one was an Anchorage resident in his 90s, another was a Fairbanks resident in his 80s and another was an Anchorage resident in her 20s. The fourth was a Juneau resident in his 80s who was added to the list of COVID-19 victims after further review from public health.
One of those positive cases reported in recent days was Rep. Don Young. The recently reelected representative announced this morning that he had the virus.
“I have tested positive for COVID-19. I am feeling strong, following proper protocols, working from home in Alaska, and ask for privacy at this time,” Young wrote on Twitter.
Of the cases announced Wednesday, 486 are residents in: Anchorage (215), Wasilla (46), Bethel Census Area (27), Soldotna (27), Kenai (21), Bethel (20), Palmer (18), Eagle River (13), Delta Junction (12), Juneau (12), Utqiaġvik (11), Fairbanks (7), North Pole (6), Dillingham Census Area (5), Kenai Peninsula Borough North (5), Kodiak (5), Nikiski (5), Big Lake (4), Kenai Peninsula Borough South (3), Kotzebue (3), North Slope Borough (3), Sitka (3), Sterling (3), Seward (2) and one each in Aleutians East Borough, Chugiak, Girdwood, Healy, Kusilvak Census Area, Metlakatla, Nome, Unalaska, Valdez, Willow
The other seven cases were nonresidents.