Kodiak playgrounds will reopen Saturday, making them the city of Kodiak’s first public facilities to reopen after COVID-19 protective measures were put into place in March.
However, at an Emergency Services Council forum on Thursday, City Manager and Emergency Services Director Mike Tvenge urged those planning on visiting the reopened playgrounds to “please bring disinfectant wipes for your personal use.”
Alaska reported four new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday — three in Anchorage and one in Tok — bringing the statewide total to 387 cases. There were no new confirmed cases in Kodiak.
Of the new cases, three were male and one was female. One was between the ages of 50 and 59; two were between the ages of 70 and 79, and one was over 80 years old.
As of Wednesday, the state had a total of 39 hospitalizations and 10 deaths, with one new hospitalization and no deaths.
Recovered cases totaled 339, including one new recovered case as of Wednesday.
A total of 31,762 tests had been conducted, according to a news release from the Department of Health and Social Services.
“Even though right now we are not seeing a lot of cases … and we haven’t seen any in Kodiak, we are headed into this still for another six to eight months, or longer, until we get a vaccine or effective treatment for this infection,” public health nurse Elsa DeHart said at the forum.
She noted that while people may “hunker down” less than before, they should still take other precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, such as wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, washing hands and social distancing — staying 6 feet away from people outside of the household.
“When you wear a mask you are protecting your neighbors … and when they are wearing their masks they are protecting you,” she said.
Kodiak Mask Makers are continuing to make masks, which are distributed by the Kodiak Community Support group.
Masks can be picked up today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium entrance. At the same time next Friday, mask distribution will take place near the Shelikoff ramp opposite Harborside Cafe downtown.
DeHart said that the city continues to conduct tests everyday, and recommended people to visit their medical provider if they are feeling unwell, especially with the increase in people coming to the island.
“We are just waiting for the next case to come to Kodiak,” DeHart said.
On the five Alaska Airlines flights prior to Thursday afternoon, Kodiak had a total of 309 arrivals and 194 departures.
Many of the passengers are arriving for salmon fishing season, which begins after July 1, and some of them are quarantining on boats in the harbor.
Currently, the Kodiak harbor has 14 vessels under quarantine and flying lima flags. Different groups have organized to bring the fishermen on these boats food and supplies.
With Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s reopening plan underway, Tvenge urged businesses that are considering reopening to submit mitigation plans to the Emergency Operation Center.
He noted that 72 mitigation plans have already been submitted.
“I encourage any business considering reopening to submit their mitigation plan to the EOC, demonstrating to you, your employees and your customers that you are following good health precautions,” Tvenge said.
He noted some additions to the plan and state health mandates.
Mandate 18 now permits intrastate travel on the road system and ferry routes with no restrictions, while travel to communities off the road system and ferry routes are still limited to critical business and essential travel.
Mandate 15 includes three appendices providing specific guidance to massage therapists, chiropractors and dentists to restart operations, while mandate 16 now provides guidance to licensed child care programs, he said.
Tvenge also noted that with mandate 17, which outlines protective measures for independent commercial fishing vessels, an appendix specific to setnetters is slated to be added soon.
Tvenge also spoke about a delegation of state and federal officials who visited Kodiak on Wednesday, which included Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer; Dr. Alexander Eastman, the senior medical officer of operations for the Department of Homeland Security; and Heidi Hedberg, the director of public health at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
The group toured the U.S. Coast Guard Kodiak Station, seafood processing facilities, Kodiak’s alternative care site and the EOC.
“What they noticed ... is the collaborative efforts by agencies and the folks in this resilient community working together to protect one another,” Tvenge said.
“It is truly amazing to stand back and realize the energy we have all put in to stay safe within the community … we are all in this together and we can collectively make a difference.”