Today’s community briefing with Mayor Berkowitz features the Chief Medical Officers from the Alaska Native Medical Center, Providence Health & Services Alaska, and Alaska Regional Hospital. We encourage the public to ask questions in the comments and we’ll do our best to have them answered.Posted by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz on Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz gives a community briefing about the Municipality and Federal Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Wednesday, April 15, noon – 1:00 p.m., 2020
The briefings will be live streamed on the Mayor’s Facebook page. Residents may participate in the briefing by submitting questions in the comments of the Facebook live.
Mayor Updates and Extends Emergency Orders
ANCHORAGE — Today Mayor Berkowitz issued Emergency Order EO-06, which updates and extends previous emergency orders. Emergency Order EO-06 includes an updated version of the Hunker Down Order (EO-03), and extends the order to 11:59 p.m. on May 5. Emergency Order EO-02, which preserved personal protective equipment (PPE) and prohibited certain non-urgent medical procedures, is extended until 11:59 p.m. on April 19, at which time it will be updated with a new order that allows for many elective medical procedures to resume. Emergency Order EO-04, which waived bag fees, is extended until 11:59 p.m. on June 5, and now also allows businesses to temporarily provide customers with plastic bags.
Public health experts advise that COVID-19 continues to pose a significant risk to the health and safety of Anchorage residents. The virus still spreads easily from person to person, and causes significant health complications and even death among a relatively high number of patients. Immediately removing physical distancing restrictions would likely result in a surge of COVID-19 cases that overwhelms Anchorage’s expanded health care capacity.
The Municipality and health care providers have made progress in preparing for and slowing the spread of COVID-19. The Municipality has increased its contact tracing capacity, collected PPE, and worked with the State and hospitals to increase hospital bed availability. Evidence suggests that by staying at home as much as possible, Anchorage residents are flattening the curve.
Recognizing the progress that has been made, the new order begins the process of easing restrictions. The temporary moratorium on elective procedures successfully increased the supply of PPE available to health care workers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the Municipality is working in coordination with the State to allow for many elective medical procedures to resume.
Further loosening of restrictions will require Anchorage to have robust capacity to test residents, conduct contact tracing, and treat patients. The Municipality is working with public health experts to develop and implement a strategy to loosen restrictions in a manner that is safe and timely.
“Anchorage has done a great job responding to this crisis” said Mayor Berkowitz. “We hunkered down and are saving lives. Our work is not done; the virus is still out there. But we know that if we stay disciplined and maintain physical distancing and good hygiene, we will be able to keep easing restrictions and continue reopening the economy.”
The Hunker Down order includes updated guidance for businesses and individuals. The order:
- Prohibits businesses from knowingly permitting symptomatic employees or others likely to be contagious with COVID-19 from working outside the home.
- Mandates that businesses must allow and shall strongly encourage employees to wear cloth face-coverings or masks when around the public or in close proximity to other employees. The order strongly encourages individuals to wear a cloth face-covering or mask whenever in public.
- Allows up to two people to be inside a non-critical business that is closed to the public for the purposes of essential upkeep, site maintenance, performing payroll, or facilitating remote business operations or online order fulfillment through email or physical mail, assuming proper physical distancing measures can be accomplished. Non critical businesses may not operate via curbside or delivery service model at this time.
- Clarifies that farmer’s markets, food trucks, and landscapers are critical businesses.
- Allows sewing, quilting, and fabric stores to open for curbside pick-up and delivery.
- Updates the order to apply to everyone in Anchorage by mandating that everyone stay home as much as possible, and that home may include a residence, a temporary residence, or a shelter.
Emergency Order EO-04 allows businesses to temporarily provide customers with plastic bags because the pandemic has limited the supply of paper bags available to some critical businesses.
CORRECTION TO PREVIOUS PRESS RELEASE: Five Alaska communities were impacted by positive test results during this reporting period.
Eight new cases of COVID-19 announced in five Alaska communities; one new death
April 14, 2020 ANCHORAGE — The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) today announced one new death and eight new cases of COVID-19 in five Alaska communities – Anchorage (4), Girdwood (1), Wasilla (1), Juneau (1) and Craig (1). This brings the total case count in Alaska on April 13 to 285.
These new cases were reported from 12:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on April 13 and reflect data posted at noon today on coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com.
This person who died was a 33-year-old female from Wasilla who had preexisting conditions. The person was reported as a new case on April 8. She died in an Anchorage hospital on April 12 and her death was reported a day later to DHSS. This brings the total deaths in Alaska related to COVID-19 to nine.
“Our thoughts today are with this individual, her friends and family and also with the health care providers who cared for her,” said Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink. “This is a reminder that sometimes young people also have underlying health issues that puts them at higher risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19. We know it’s getting harder for Alaskans to continue to stay home and keep maintaining distance from others but this is critically important to prevent the loss of life, to protect our health care infrastructure and to help us recover faster once we are able to lift our current health restrictions.”
Of the new cases, four are male and four are female. Four are aged 20-29; three are aged 30-39; and one is aged 40-49. There have been 32 total hospitalizations and nine deaths.
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