Dunleavy has signed an emergency declaration due to ‘slow-moving storm’ of coronavirus spread

Gov. Mike Dunleavy talks to reporters at a press conference about the novel coronavirus on Monday, March 9, 2020, while Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink stands in the background. (Photo by Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

Anticipating what he describes as the coronavirus’ inevitable spread to Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed an emergency disaster declaration Wednesday to free up additional resources to help the state prepare.

At his third consecutive daily news conference at his downtown Anchorage office, Dunleavy compared the situation to a slow-moving storm.

“We can see it coming. We just wanted to gear up now,” he said.

There were no confirmed coronavirus cases in Alaska — 60 tests have been done, with 46 negative and 14 still pending as of midday Wednesday. But “we’re anticipating that’s going to change,” Dunleavy said.

“It’s going to be in Alaska,” he said. “It’s probably here now.”

The declaration allows the state to access federal money and will help expedite government processes as it makes plans to fight the virus, he said.

The state is also now confident it can perform more than 1,000 tests, health officials said.

Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said the challenge now is to get hospitals and outpatient clinics set up to run tests. Zink also warned that people who are used to getting health care in Seattle should be checking with their providers because the health care system in the city is overloaded.

This story has been updated.