PALMER — Mat-Su Borough Mayor Vern Halter announced with Manager John Moosey at a press conference on Monday morning that all borough public facilities will continue to be closed until April 15.
Though two meetings of the Mat-Su Borough Assembly had been canceled due to concern over social distancing from the COVID 19 outbreak, the Assembly will meet on April 7 using virtual resources.
“I just want to say two wks ago today I was down at the Iditarod and there was like 30-40,000 people lining the streets of Anchorage during the Iditarod and now it’s, we’re hunkering down. This whole thing has changed our lives immensely and that’s going to happen for many more months to come,” said Halter.
After news broke on Sunday night that two people in the Mat-Su Valley had tested positive for COVID 19, Moosey said that the Department of Health and Social Services would not release the information on where these two people were but that they were both under quarantine. Moosey was asked at the press conference whether the people who tested positive in the Valley were travel related cases.
“The information we have is they are not and that brings some concern. They were here operating and they caught this without leaving the area which really requires us to be much more diligent,” said Moosey.
As of Monday night, a total of 75 people in the Valley had been tested for coronavirus. Of those 75, 42 were performed at Capstone Clinic and 33 were performed at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center.
“I want to stress that it is all hands on deck here at the Mat-Su borough, however our resources are finite,” said Moosey. “We successfully battle our floods, fires, earthquakes, we can successfully battle COVID 19.”
Borough IT Director Eric Wyatt gave praise to webmaster Jack Horner and GIS employee Kennny Kleewein who helped develop an application that will help Valley residents maintain social distance. Once released, the app will allow users to see borough facilities and private facilities in their area and what services they are open for. A link to the app has been posted on the borough website. Wyatt also said that wifi connections would become available at library and the borough building parking lot.
“This will help us to stay in touch with one another to know what services are available and it will help businesses get their word out to others. So again, this is going to be a great service for us,” said Wyatt.
Borough Department of Emergency Services Director Ken Barkley said that DES staff had been in constant meetings with cities, seniors, hospitals and medical service providers. An Emergency Operations Center has been activated in the Mat-Su to coordinate with the state EOC.
“Our main concern right now is the safety of our residents and our first responders,” said Barkley.
Barkley listed the phone number for Capstone for individuals who believe they may be experiencing symptoms of COVID 19 and would like to be tested as 864-4642.
“What they will do is have a questionnaire or survey to take and then they will determine whether you are needed to come in and be tested if you are they will pre set that up with you so you can go there, and then the first thing they’re going to do is test you for influenza A. If you test negative for influenza A and you meet the criteria then you will be tested for the covid virus,” said Barkley.
Halter ensured those listening that hoarding supplies was not necessary and that he greatly appreciated the press conference put on Sunday night with Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz at the Port of Anchorage.
“People should stay home. We should isolate ourselves and keep that social distancing, that’s what’s important. We’r Probably at a period of time with this COVID 19 pandemic where it might still be on the rise,” said Halter. “That would be my recommendation for the Mat-Su Borough too, stay at home. Do things with your family, go hiking, take care of yourselves, get more sleep. drink more water, wash your hands, do everything that they’re recommending because that is what’s truly going to get us through this.”