Dunleavy outlines steps for reopening Alaska’s economy

Update — Lex Treinen, Alaska Public Media

Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Monday that the state will announce later this week its plan for opening hair and nail salons, restaurants, and retail businesses with added protocols to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

He said the state may begin to relax regulations as early as next week. He will meet with mayors on the issue this week.

“In those businesses, we feel there are protocols those businesses can put in place — face coverings, sanitizing, spacing within their businesses,” Dunleavy said.

As the state reopens some sectors, it will watch carefully for movement in the wrong direction, the governor said.

“If we see a spike in cases, clusters of cases, we’re going to go in and investigate that really quickly,” Dunleavy said.

Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said that even as some of the restrictions on businesses relax, residents should continue to avoid large groups, practice social distancing and wear masks in public.

Zink said a steady decrease in active COVID-19 cases shows that Alaskans’ efforts have been effective. That trend is a leading requirement for reopening the economy.

Testing data is another key for those who are tracking the disease — the state lab can now test as many as 7,000 people a week, but “that’s well below what we’re testing currently,” Zink said.

She said new state guidelines will allow anyone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to be tested.

“Our goal is to test as many people as possible,” she said.

She also urged Alaskans to keep track of their movements, so that if they do test positive, disease trackers can possibly figure out where their exposure came from and more easily determine how to isolate potential new cases.

Alaska’s Energy Desk editor Julia O’Malley contributed to this story.

This story has been updated.

Alaska Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum, left, speaks at a news conference with Gov. Mike Dunleavy on April 9. (Creative Commons photo by Alaska Governor’s Office)

Original storyRyan Cunningham, KTOO

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

The governor, Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink 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.

There were two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported on Monday, bringing the statewide total to 321. One new case was in Palmer, and the other was in Chugiak. There were no new hospitalizations or deaths reported.

The Dunleavy administration has imposed 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 coronavirus.alaska.gov.

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

The headline for this story has been updated.

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