Because the variety of confirmed COVID-19 instances rises slowly however steadily in Alaska, authorities officers in Anchorage and on the state stage have taken extra aggressive actions to thwart the unfold of the brand new coronavirus.
Rather a lot has occurred because the first case of COVID-19, the sickness attributable to the novel coronavirus, was reported within the state on March 12. Faculties statewide at the moment are closed till Could 1. Anchorage residents have been advised to “hunker down.” Alaska eating places aren’t open for dine-in service anymore and at the very least another companies are quickly closing their doorways.
As of Saturday night, there have been 21 complete identified instances in Alaska: 5 in Anchorage, seven in Fairbanks, six in Ketchikan, one in Seward, one in Soldotna and one in Sterling. Most of the instances are linked to latest journey, however well being officers on Friday stated they have been nonetheless making an attempt to find out how a number of instances in Fairbanks had unfold.
The evolving nature of a worldwide pandemic means there’s doubtless extra change to come back. Gov. Mike Dunleavy stated Friday that “nothing is off the desk” on the subject of the state’s potential preventive measures.
However for now, right here’s the place issues stand.
Anchorage’s ‘hunker down’ order
The order, which is in impact till March 31, asks residents to “keep residence as a lot as potential” and closes companies deemed to not be important.
However there are exceptions to the order, together with individuals who work in an inventory of “essential jobs” as described by the municipality. Plus, grocery purchasing remains to be allowed and so goes to the physician.
The order additionally says it’s effective to “get contemporary air with out contacting others,” which implies that the tons of of miles of trails in Anchorage are nonetheless usable for those who keep a protected distance (at the very least 6 ft) from different joggers and skiers.
[You’ll be able to learn Anchorage’s full emergency order here.]
Non-public and public colleges throughout Alaska will stay closed to college students till Could 1, the state introduced Friday. Chatting with reporters, Alaska Division of Well being and Social Providers Commissioner Adam Crum stated that college students will study by means of “distance supply strategies.”
The closure additionally contains the suspension of all after-school actions. The state had beforehand introduced a statewide colleges closure from March 16 to 30.
The College of Alaska system will conduct courses remotely for the remainder of the semester, and all of its scheduled graduation ceremonies within the spring have been canceled, in keeping with a Monday statement form UA president Jim Johnsen.
“We encourage households to honor their UA graduate in small household celebrations after the semester is full,” Johnsen stated in an announcement. “As well as, every of the colleges and group campuses will develop applicable and protected methods to have a good time our college students’ nice accomplishments.”
Statewide enterprise closures
A statewide closure of eating places and bars to dine-in service went into impact on Wednesday, after the same order was issued for the Municipality of Anchorage earlier within the week. Take-out and supply providers are nonetheless allowed, in keeping with each orders. The statewide mandate lasts till 5 p.m. April 1.
The state on Wednesday additionally mandated the closure of all leisure institutions, together with film theaters, health facilities and bingo halls till 5 p.m. April 1.
Later within the week, the state issued more stringent mandates for “personal care” businesses within the Ketchikan Gateway Borough and the Fairbanks North Star Borough, two areas which have seen an uptick in COVID-19 instances. In these jurisdictions, companies wherein persons are nearer than 6 ft from one another have been ordered to cease operations starting Saturday, March 21.
Additionally, in Ketchikan Gateway Borough and Fairbanks North Star Borough, “no gatherings of greater than 10 folks might happen, and if a gathering does happen folks have to be six ft aside from one another,” the order says.
On Saturday, the federal Small Enterprise Administration introduced it could provide low-interest loans to Alaska companies “struggling substantial financial damage because of the coronavirus,” in keeping with an announcement from the SBA.
Scarcity of supplies for testing
The Anchorage Workplace of Emergency Administration said in an alert Saturday that the municipality is “dealing with a scarcity of private protecting tools.”
Related shortages are being seen worldwide, and it’s unknown when extra private protecting tools — equivalent to examination gloves, surgical masks and medical robes — may arrive, the Workplace of Emergency Administration stated. Well being care staff use such tools to guard themselves whereas administering COVID-19 exams and treating sufferers.
“Given the nationwide demand for PPE and Alaska’s distance from suppliers, avoiding PPE shortages in Anchorage would require stretching current provides so long as potential,” the workplace stated.
[An inventory of PPE wanted and the place it may be donated may be discovered here.]
On Friday, the Workplace of Emergency Administration additionally warned that the municipality could soon run out of the swabs wanted within the first stage of a COVID-19 check. Town stated present demand is for 250 to 280 exams per day, and requested medical suppliers to donate swabs.
The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, famous the shortages when chatting with reporters on Friday. She requested that folks take into account donating private protecting tools in addition to blood if they’re ready.
To that finish, state officers mandated that well being care suppliers and sufferers “postpone or cancel all non-urgent or elective procedures for 3 months.”
The state additionally mandated that any elective dental procedures be postponed for a month.
Public well being officers have strongly advised against non-essential travel — each in-state and out-of-state — for Alaskans, as a lot of the state’s confirmed instances of COVID-19 are related to journey Outdoors and entry to well being care in lots of Alaska communities stays severely restricted. The state is encouraging any Alaskans who plan to return to the state throughout the subsequent month to come back again now.
As well as, the state requested that any vacationers with plans to reach within the state, or who’re already right here, droop their journey plans and “return to their residence communities now,” Zink stated.
“Social distancing is one arm to sluggish to the unfold of COVID-19,” Zink stated. “Minimizing journey is equally vital in slowing its unfold.”