Alaska efforts are helping slow the spread of COVID-19, governor says

A screenshot of Governor Mike Dunleavy and Cheif Medical Officer Anne Zink from a daily press briefing on Monday, March 30, 2020.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Monday that Alaska is in better shape than other states in terms of the number of people infected by the virus. He said the administration is constantly looking to see if it should change what it’s doing to slow the spread.

There were six new confirmed cases announced by the state on Monday. Three of the people live in Anchorage, with one each in Fairbanks, Soldotna and Petersburg. A seventh case was announced late Monday by the The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 192.

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Dunleavy said during his daily news briefing that the relatively low number of cases appears to be primarily due to the actions Alaskans are taking to minimize the spread. He said the administration will review what it’s doing later this week to determine if it should make changes. 

Dunleavy thanked the organization Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian group led by the Rev. Franklin Graham, for providing medical supplies for eight rural hub communities around the state. He said the supplies will help prepare for the arrival of the virus in rural communities. 

Dunleavy said there will be a governor’s day of prayer and hope held on Friday. 

Catch up on the latest stories about the coronavirus in Alaska.

The governor also said the state will provide more details over the next several days on how the Bristol Bay fishing season can still occur safely. 

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink noted there have been three more hospitalizations. She thanked the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium for distributing coronavirus tests in rural areas. 

Bryan Fisher, the COVID-19 incident commander for the state’s emergency operations center, said the state is working in different communities to prepare for the possibility that hospitals will be overwhelmed, by preparing space in other buildings. 

Fisher said the state will submit plans to the federal government to move patients around the state, including to Anchorage, if needed. 

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Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.