2 members of Anchorage mayor’s administration test positive for COVID, canceling Friday’s meeting

girls sing in solidarity
A group of girls testifying in opposition to the proposed Anchorage mask mandate lead a crowd in singing the National Anthem on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. The Anchorage Assembly canceled Friday’s meeting after members came into close contact on Thursday with two members of Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration who tested positive for COVID-19. (Wesley Early/AKPM)

Two members of Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting Anchorage Assembly leadership to cancel their Friday meeting, according to a statement from the Assembly.

The Bronson administration told the Assembly on Friday that all members present at Thursday’s meeting have come into “really close contact” with the two individuals who tested positive, said the Assembly’s statement. 

RELATED: Conflict erupts between Bronson and Assembly on sixth night of combative mask testimony

The Anchorage Daily News reported that the two staffers who tested positive were Municipal Manager Amy Demboski and Municipal Attorney Patrick Bergt.

Both of them were vaccinated, the mayor’s spokesman, Corey Allen Young, said.

The COVID-19 cases come as the state is entrenched in one of the nation’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, and as the Anchorage Assembly continues to hear days of combative public testimony about a proposed mask mandate.

RELATED: Amid one of the nation’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks, Anchorage officials say they’re rationing testing

Thursday’s meeting was the sixth day of comments. Assembly members Meg Zaletel, Pete Petersen, Chris Constant and Austin Quinn-Davidson all attended the meeting by phone. Other members attended in person. Jamie Allard and Crystal Kennedy, members who represent Eagle River/Chugiak, did not wear masks. The majority of Bronson’s team was also without masks during the meeting, as was most of the audience. 

Anchorage Assembly member Jamie Allard addresses the rest of the Assembly, concerned that she would not be allowed to ask questions of the public. She’s seated by municipal manager Amy Demboski (left) and Mayor Dave Bronson. (Wesley Early/AKPM)

Hundreds of people have participated in recent Assembly meetings.

On Thursday, many of the attendees were children, who did not wear masks, brought to testify against the proposed masking ordinance. Some were too young to be vaccinated. Adam Trombley, the director of the office of economic and community development, removed a plexiglass barrier on the dais where people stood to testify.

RELATED: Discord over masks escalates with arrests, Holocaust comparisons at the Anchorage Assembly

crowd raises hands
Christine Hill raises her hands in support of public testimony opposed to the proposed Anchorage mask mandate on Oct. 7, 2021. (Wesley Early/AKPM)

Both Bronson and the Assembly released statements late Friday afternoon about the COVID-19 infections.

“The senior administration is following Municipality of Anchorage COVID-19 protocols and will not be attending tonight’s scheduled Assembly meeting in person,” said Bronson’s statement. 

The Assembly’ statement said: “Even though most Assembly members were wearing masks and are vaccinated, and thus are more protected from contracting COVID-19, Assembly leadership feels it is in the best interest of the safety of the public, staff, administration, and Assembly members to cancel tonight’s continued meeting.” 

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Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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