As case counts rise, Anchorage mayor calls for renewed ‘personal responsibility’ to keep city safe

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is calling on residents and visitors to renew their focus on social distance and wearing masks in public as the number of new coronavirus cases climbs.

“There’s a premium right now on people exercising personal responsibility, and I’m counting on the people of Anchorage to show that kind of personal responsibility,” he said. “Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Do it for the community. Because it makes a difference.”

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The state’s largest city saw nearly 50 new cases in a week. One cluster is centered on Providence Transitional Care Center, which reports 29 cases among its residents and staff.  City Health Department Director Natasha Pineda said another cluster of 12 cases is associated with a single Anchorage household. In addition, four people without symptoms tested positive when they sought hospital care for an unrelated reason. Pineda said three positives came from employment screenings.

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“All of these indicate to us at the health department that we do have presence of community spread,” she said. “We know some of the cases that we have in Anchorage were related to some gatherings in other communities during the Memorial Day weekend.”

Berkowitz said visitors need to exercise the same precautions in Anchorage as they would in their home communities. The mayor says he’s heard disturbing reports about flight crews.

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“It’s come to my attention that some of the restaurants, particularly in downtown, have had uncomfortable experiences with cargo crews engaging in, let’s just say too much revelry, and with too many people, and not doing it in a way that was respectful of the waitstaff and the back of house in restaurants here,” Berkowitz said. “I have heard of more than one instance of this and we hope that just by bringing it to the airlines’ attention, which has already happened, it will cease.”

Anchorage has seen a recent average of about six coronavirus cases per day, which is close to what the average was during the first peak in April.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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