Dr. Annie Zink

Dr. Annie Zink spoke about the threat of conronavirus during a press conference Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

The Mat-Su Borough’s two positive cases for CORVID-19 are travel related, Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink confirmed Tuesday evening during a press conference that also included Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Department of Health and Social Services Director Adam Crum.

“We believe that in this two week period we can do so much to combat this virus. We want to do it with your help, so please comply with the mandates and the advisories that we are sending out. It’s going to save lives. It’s going to help you not get sick,” said Dunleavy.

The Mat-Su two cases were initially reported on March 22, and the investigation revealed that both are travel related after the case investigation had completed.

Zink also announced the number of positive cases for coronavirus in Alaska has reached 42, as of Tuesday. That tally includes six additional cases. Zink reported two new cases in Ketchikan, two in Fairbanks, one in Juneau and one in Sterling. Zink also said an Alaskan resident, who had been away from the state for an extended period of time, died in Washington state after testing positive for COVID-19 while in Washington. Zink said, per Center for Disease Control protocol, COVID-19 deaths are counted by state of residency and not where the patient died. Dr. Zink discussed that the battle being fought on two fronts in the war against coronavirus is to try and slow down the spread of COVID 19 while simultaneously building up health care infrastructure. Zink said that building up health care infrastructure involves first thinking about the whole state, protecting health care workers themselves and increasing the state’s capacity for testing.

“We literally can’t do that work if individuals don’t take the responsibility upon themselves right now to do what we’re asking you to do,” said Zink. “This isn’t how life can go on forever and we all understand that. That being said, there are just really humbling statistics and really overwhelming numbers when you look at the state of Alaska and how many people may die and how overwhelmed the health care system could easily be if we don’t take this seriously. I hate looking at those graphs and seeing what it looks like… I can give you a lot of numbers but it all depends on what Alaskans do.”

Dunleavy said that efforts were being made to build up the state’s supply of swaps, personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer and that local businesses are willing to help. Dunleavy did not pontificate as to when additional restrictions for travel or sheltering in place may come about, but said that he is taking the advice of his team.

“There are some countries not to be named that can and have and will impose some incredible extraordinary restrictions that we in America just don’t use and don’t apply, same with Alaska,” said Dunleavy.

Mat-Su Borough Department of Emergency Services Director Ken Barkley said during a press conference Monday that, as of Monday, 75 people had been tested in the Valley for COVID-19. Of those, 42 were at Capstone Clinic and 33 were tested at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. Mat-Su Regional Medical Center Marketing Director Alan Craft said the two confirmed positive cases in the Valley were not MSRMC patients and were not tested at Mat-Su Regional.

Zink was called upon by Dunleavy to explain the parameters of the Health Mandates issued by the governor.

“If you do any sort of profession that involves touching someone else, we’ve tried to mandate it all and put everything else out there. Everybody has an exception for it. I feel like I’ve spent all day dealing with everyone’s exceptions and the reality is this virus doesn’t care what your exception is. This virus is going to infect you if you don’t’ slow things down and you don’t move apart from each other,” said Zink. “So please just for two weeks stop what you’re doing. Stay away from each other.”

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