Bronson administration aims to restore Anchorage testing levels with $2.65 million Assembly request

a medical professional swabs a driver's nostril
Jose Urrutia gets a COVID-19 test at an Anchorage municipal site in August. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

After a funding crunch forced Anchorage’s city government to cut back COVID-19 testing last week amid an intense surge in cases, Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration said it plans to present the Assembly on Tuesday with a $2.65 million request that would restore testing to its previous level through the end of November.

“The Assembly is aware and is in support,” Corey Allen Young, Bronson’s spokesman, said in an email Monday.

Bronson’s administration directed Anchorage’s contracted testing company, Visit Healthcare, to cut hours last week. The company then scaled back its opening hours at several sites around the city, including at the Loussac Library and Changepoint church.

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

Anchorage health officials said that move was necessary because the city pays $98 per test, and a spike in testing demand amid the current surge in the virus had depleted the testing budget previously approved by the Assembly.

A number of Assembly members questioned the decision, saying they would be willing to approve additional spending to sustain testing.

The new Bronson administration proposal hasn’t been formally released yet. Young said it would be unveiled at Tuesday’s Assembly meeting, which is set to start at 5 p.m.

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