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Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced two new health mandates Monday evening to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
As of March 25 at 12:01 a.m., all people arriving in Alaska are required to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor for illness. The mandate will be in place until April 21, at which time it will be reevaluated.
Individuals arriving in Alaska must proceed directly from the airport to their home or rented lodging. Individuals may only leave to seek medical care. If there are other individuals in the place of residence, they must maintain social distance from the traveler.
“The failure to follow this order is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000, or imprisonment of not more than one year,” according to the mandate.
In a separate mandate, which will take effect March 24 at 5 p.m., the governor ordered people in Alaska to maintain a social distance of 6 feet in all settings. This mandate will remain in effect “until the governor rescinds or modifies the order.”
As part of this mandate, all businesses, congregations or gathering where individuals are within 6 feet of each other must stop operations. This includes hair salons, day spas, nail salons, barber shops, tattoo shops, body piercing locations, massage therapy locations and tanning facilities.
In addition, no gatherings of more than 10 people may take place. If a gathering does take place, people must be 6 feet apart from each other.
Four additional cases of the coronavirus were diagnosed in Alaska on Monday, bringing the state’s total to 36. All new cases were diagnosed in Anchorage and are travel-related. As of Sunday, 1,022 people in Alaska had been tested for the virus. As of Monday evening, more than 43,000 people in the U.S. had been diagnosed with COVID-19, causing more than 500 deaths.
“This virus is like fighting a war, but it’s a war against this silent, sneaky killer that is transmitted by the healthiest, youngest people who may have the smallest symptoms,” said Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer. “That’s part of why we continue to escalate these advisories and mandates. We owe it to all Alaskans to protect their health and wellbeing.”
“It’s important to remember that the test is not preventative, so getting the test does not mean you will not get the disease,” Zink said. “We don’t test asymptomatic people … even if they are part of a critical infrastructure.”
According to Zink, the guidelines for testing have been updated to recommend a test for high-risk categories of patients, including individuals hospitalized with no explanation for their symptoms, those presenting with symptoms living in long-term care facilities, those with symptoms who work as health care providers or first responders, and those with symptoms who have traveled to places with known community transmission or who have been in contact with confirmed cases.
Both Zink and Dunleavy said that eventually, all Alaskans may be exposed to the virus or sickened by it.
“The fate of all Alaskans is in our hands at this time,” Zink said. “You’re not only doing this for yourself. You’re doing this for the frontline health care workers who are showing up to work every day, knowing that they don’t have enough personal protective gear, knowing that they have a higher likelihood of getting and dying from the disease. You’re doing this to keep our economy and industry going.”
“But it’s also important to remember that we’re doing this for each other,” she said. “You’re doing this for the 24-year-old woman who’s going to give birth and is at higher risk but also needs that hospital to deliver in later and not have it overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19. You’re doing this for the 42-year-old mother who has cancer and three kids at home who is immunocompromised and continues to need that health care infrastructure. You’re doing it for our elders, who hold our history, our tradition and our language, and we have so much to learn from.”