Kodiak residents may soon be able to visit the library or swim laps in the public pool, with public facilities potentially opening on May 29, the Kodiak Emergency Service director announced on Thursday.
“The reason to wait is we want to be certain each department opening is ready for the responsibilities that are associated with the health procedures during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said City Manager and Emergency Service Director Mike Tvenge at a live forum, which was streamed online.
His announcement came one day after Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the decision to fully reopen the Alaska economy, as the state moves to phases 3 and 4 of the Reopen Alaska Responsibly plan.
While Dunleavy’s announcement allows all businesses in Alaska to reopen at full capacity starting today, Tvenge said local businesses will continue to open when they are ready.
“You’ve heard the governor say that communities can open slowly at their own pace and maybe slower than the rest of the state,” Tvenge said, adding that the Kodiak Emergency Operation Center has received 94 mitigation plans from businesses that have already started reopening. He urged more businesses to submit their plans.
Tvenge also announced that the city will hold a special meeting on June 2 to discuss an economic recovery plan using funding from the $11.9 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to help businesses impacted by state-mandated closures.
“Business closures have stalled our economy,” he said. “Local businesses support this community and now it's time to support them with financial aid.”
As businesses reopen and community members interact with each other on a larger scale, the state expects an increase in positive COVID-19 cases. Therefore, state and local health officials, as well as the EOC, will continue to monitor for any signs of a resurgence in the coronavirus, and are prepared to respond to additional outbreaks.
Medical providers also urge the public to keep a list of who they interact with, in case the information is needed to trace and monitor potential spread of the virus.
“Make no mistake: The virus is still with us, so we need to be prepared and cautious,” Tvenge said.
With Kodiak’s salmon fishing season less than a month away, many vessels arriving from out of state have had to quarantine for 14 days to adhere to state health mandates. As of Thursday, 15 vessels were quarantined in Kodiak’s harbors. In addition, seafood processing plants have submitted mitigation plans, Tvenge said.
The EOC has distributed over 3,200 masks with the help of the Kodiak Mask Makers group and Kodiak Support Team, and local groups have distributed an additional 2,000 masks, Tvenge said.
Due to a decrease in demand, today will be the last day the EOC will distribute masks. However, the EOC still has a stockpile of cloth masks available for those who need them.
Today’s distribution will take place at the boat ramp across from the downtown Harborside Cafe from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The governor's office will host a series of townhall meetings on the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, reopening Alaska, unemployment and other issues. During the meetings, Dunleavy will invite the state’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink and other officials to join the discussions.
The series of townhall meetings can be viewed on Facebook.com/GovDunleavy and Livestream.com/GovDunleavy. Questions from the public can be submitted live on Gov. Dunleavy’s Facebook page, or in advance at www.akgov.us/pjv.