Gov. Mike Dunleavy issues urgent warning to Alaskans about coronavirus surge

A white man in a gray suit in front of an american and alasksan flag
A screenshot from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s emergency message on Nov. 11, 2020.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office issued an emergency alert on Thursday, urging Alaskans to take more precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

The alert was sent to cellphones in Alaska, with a link to a YouTube video of the governor. The governor’s office said most Alaskans received the alert.

Screenshot of a cellphone alert from the Governor
At 10 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued an alert about the escalating spread of COVID-19 in Alaska.

In the video, Dunleavy asked Alaskans to change their behavior, and said “the next three weeks are critical.” 

“I’m speaking to you today, because Alaska is facing an escalating crisis that I need your help to solve,” Dunleavy said. “Like the rest of the nation, Alaska’s COVID-19 status is now in the red.”

That means all areas of the state are at the highest alert level and COVID-19 is rapidly spreading through Alaska communities. Dunleavy said health care workers, first responders and service members “are being infected at unprecedented rates.”

He said that if too many trauma nurses, paramedics and police officers are infected, they can’t perform critical duties. 

“If we are going to keep our hospitals running and businesses open, all Alaskans must return to the same mindset that worked so well this past spring,” Dunleavy said. 

Statewide COVID-19 alert levels according to data from Alaska DHSS
Statewide COVID-19 alert levels according to data from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

He urged people to stay 6 feet apart from non-household members. And he asked people to wear masks “in any and every setting,” when they can’t start 6 feet from others.

He noted that people are entering the holiday season, and asked people to celebrate “differently.” He added that his job as governor is not to tell people “how to live your life,” but to ensure the state’s security and safety, adding: “I can’t do that without your help.”  

In the video, Dunleavy repeated several points that he made in a news conference last week. He urged businesses and municipalities to have employees work from home as much as possible through the end of November. 

He noted that the use of masks and social distancing are mandatory at state worksites, and he directed that all state employees work from home whenever possible.

Dunleavy also said that a new, 30-day disaster declaration will take effect on Monday. 

And he said people should limit trips inside stores if possible, instead using services like curbside pickup for food and supplies. 

“No matter what you believe about the virus, the facts are the facts: Hospitalizations and sick health care workers are reaching untenable levels,” he said. “We must act together now, while we still have choices.”

He said that, “with advent of inoculations on the horizon, the end to this fight is in sight.” And he said he has “great faith” that Alaska can get the upper hand against the virus again. 

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

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