ANCHORAGE — Alaskan businesses opened up for Phase 2 of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s plan to reopen Alaska’s economy responsibly on Friday and planning for Phase 3 to provide guidance for sports, child care, overnight camps and intrastate travel will commence on Monday.
Alaska has three newly reported cases of COVID-19 on Friday and a total or 377. Only 72 cases remain active as 305 people have recovered from symptoms. Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink was proud to announce that the 25,473 tests conducted rank 10th among the United States and only 1.5 percent of tests have been positive.
“I’m just excited when Alaska shows up on a map,” said Zink.
Alaska received a six-month supply of personal protective equipment last week including 200,000 respirator masks, 1.2 million gloves and surgical masks, and large quantities of protective suits and gowns. Dunleavy said that the PPE shipment cost $3 million including transportation.
“We don’t have vaccinations, we don’t have antivirals at this point,” said Dunleavy. “Distance is still going to be our best weapon against this virus, our best ally.”
Businesses were allowed to further open with Phase 2 taking effect. Businesses that were allowed to open during Phase 1 can now increase capacity up to 50 percent and restaurants can take walk-in customers. Personal services will not yet be able to accept walk-in customers, but are open for appointments. Social and religious gatherings of up to 50 people may take place. Gyms, bars, theaters and performance venues may open up to 25 percent of their capacity.
“The light is green. We are going to be able to move forward cautiously as we look at this opportunity to move ahead, this methodical approach that we’re going to take is going to make us continue,” said Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum.
Following up on a previously unanswered question, Dunleavy reported that no additional positive cases had been reported at Goose Creek Correctional Facility following the testing of every inmate and staff member in that housing mod.
“After extensive testing on the mod it appears that GCCC contained the spread to just one case and the DOC is waiting 28 days from the first exposure to close the case and we’re at 20 days now,” said Dunleavy.
Dunleavy stressed that Alaskans will take the economy in their own hands with individual responsibility to maintain social distance when possible and continue washing hands and refraining from shaking hands. Crum said that personal mitigation will help prevent a spike in numbers and keep the light green moving the Alaskan economy forward to reopen.
“Our numbers compel us in a way to open up responsibly and it’s going to be individual Alaskans again that will get us to where we need to go,” said Dunleavy. “We’ll be exploring these guidelines every single day and there’s a real possibility that there will be changes to deal with maybe some inconsistencies in some of the guidelines that we have out there, so we’re going to keep looking at them and especially if things go well with our numbers which they have, you’ll see changes in these guidelines.”
On Wednesday, Dunleavy voiced his displeasure with the Legislative Budget and Audit members who did not appropriate over $1 billion in CARES act funding.
“We need this money in the hands of these entities now. We’re asking that the legislature, the LB&A committee move quickly on this. We were hoping that would happen today in a meeting but apparently that didn’t happen,” said Dunleavy. “We’re asking LB&A to work on this to meet and to approve these funds as quickly as possible so that we can get these into the hands of the entities.”
Former Lt. Governor Byron Malott died on Friday and both Dunleavy and Zink shared their condolences with his family members. Dunleavy ordered that Alaska and United States flags be flown at half-staff for one week.