Watch: Dunleavy administration talks about economic assistance for Alaskans

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s latest COVID-19 press conference is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska's Chief Medical Officer, watches Gov. Mike Dunleavy during a press conference on the COVID-19 pandemic on April 2, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Creative Commons photo courtesy Alaska Governor's Office)
Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, watches Gov. Mike Dunleavy during a press conference on the COVID-19 pandemic on April 2, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Creative Commons photo courtesy Alaska Governor’s Office)

The governor, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink and Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Tamika Ledbetter will be discussing the latest on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ledbetter will be discussing how her department is working to provide unemployment insurance to Alaskans who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Her department has weeks of record-breaking numbers of claims for unemployment as thousands of Alaskans find themselves without work.

In early April, Ledbetter said the surge in claims had put a strain on the unemployment system.

People have reported long wait times, clogging up the department’s phone lines — especially from Alaskans who are unfamiliar with the state’s online web portal.

Ledbetter said to address the wait times, the department worked to add staff to the unemployment insurance office.

“I have moved staff from other divisions within the Department of Labor,” she said. “We are asking retirees to return to help us to process these claims. We’re hiring additional staff to take care of the influx of workload that we now have.”

Members of Dunleavy’s administration have been holding these briefings almost daily since March 10.

They’ve shared updates on the number of people in the state with confirmed cases, announced public health mandates, and explained the administration’s strategy and rationale.

As of Thursday, the state has reported nine new cases across Juneau, the Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage. That brings the total to 309 Alaskans diagnosed, 128 of whom have recovered from the disease. According to state data, 36 people have been hospitalized with the disease — though it’s unclear how many are currently in the hospital.

The Dunleavy administration has also imposed several public health mandates that have reshaped daily life across Alaska to combat the spread of the virus. Those mandates and other Alaska-specific COVID-19 resources and information are available at

Over the last few days, Dunleavy has said he wants to relax some of those mandates. His administration announced its first mandate easing those restrictions on Wednesday. It allows health care facilities to provide services that require minimal protective equipment starting next week.

But, despite President Donald Trump telling governors they could begin reopening their states by May 1 — he says Alaska is going to figure out its own timeline.

“We are beginning to open up sectors of the economy,” he said during Thursday’s press conference. “We want to do this as quick as possible, but it’s very important that I reiterate, not at the expense of the health of Alaskans.”

You can watch today’s press conference live on this post, the governor’s Facebook or Livestream pages, or on 360 North television.

This preview was written by KTOO’s Rashah McChesney.

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