Kavitha George, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage
The Anchorage Assembly is expected to vote on the distribution of the city’s remaining CARES Act funds on Tuesday. Of $156 million in federal funds, a little more than 85 percent remains unallocated.
Lack of tourism and changing city restrictions on dining in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have forced downtown Anchorage restaurants to be flexible and creative with the way they keep business running.
Bars and nightclubs will be closed to dine-in service. Emergency Order 15 also limits indoor gatherings to 15 people and outdoor gatherings with food and drinks to 25 people. Outdoor gatherings without food and drinks are limited to 50 people.
The Anchorage Assembly voted on Tuesday to extend the city’s emergency proclamation a fourth time, this time lasting until October 16. The decision was driven by the continued increase in COVID-19 cases that threaten to overwhelm the city’s health care resources.
Nearly thirty hours of in-person public testimony on a city plan to purchase property for a treatment center, housing and other homelessness services wrapped up last week. While the assembly says they’ve received thousands of emails in support of the plan, the majority of hundreds of in-person testifiers were against it. Some of the negative testimony was fueled by a conservative opposition group called Intervention 2020.
Anchorage Health Department announced on Friday that 56 of 134 employees at the Copper River Seafoods plant in Anchorage tested positive for COVID-19 between July 17 and July 22. Thirty more employees have tests pending and 14 have not been tested. Nearly all are residents of the municipality, the department said.
The average number of cases is now above 30 cases over the last 14 days.
Public hearing testimony on the city’s plan to purchase properties for a treatment center, housing and homelessness resources ended late Wednesday evening. It was the fifth day of the hearing, at which hundreds of Anchorage residents called in or testified in person.
With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Anchorage, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz released new orders on Wednesday to reinstate some limitations on bars, restaurants and other gathering spaces. The new orders go into effect at 8 a.m. on Friday.
On Tuesday, the Anchorage Assembly will hold its fourth day of a public hearing on the city’s controversial plan to revamp homelessness services. Many people who testified in person so far have raised concerns about the planning process and proximity of the facilities to Midtown neighborhoods.
Anchorage health officials say the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases in the city is threatening the city’s health capacity. At a news conference on Friday, Public Health Division Manager Christy Lawton said at the current rate of new cases, the predicted time until Anchorage exceeds its ICU bed capacity has been cut in half, from 20 weeks to 10 weeks.
Community members in opposition accused the assembly of trying to force the plan through with little community input and few details about how the facilities would be operated. Safety concerns were also frequently mentioned.
The purchase of the four properties drew dozens of opponents, who said that having homelessness services in their neighborhoods would bring crime and lower property values.
The Anchorage Assembly is expected to decide Tuesday whether to move forward with a plan to purchase four properties to turn into homelessness resource facilities. The properties, located in Downtown, Midtown and Spenard will help to distribute homeless care to more parts of the city.
The Municipality of Anchorage broke ground on a new central transfer station in midtown on Thursday. The new facility, slated to be completed by 2023, will replace the aging disposal facility across the street.
51 Alaska residents tested positive for the coronavirus throughout the day on Thursday.
State and municipal health officials have urged Alaskans to get tested for COVID-19 if they start to show symptoms, but the process of getting tested has proved to be challenging and confusing for some. Here are answers to some common questions about testing.
Another gray whale found dead in Cook Inlet, scientists still aren’t sure what’s causing the die-off
A gray whale stranded in Twentymile River near Girdwood over Memorial Day weekend was reported dead in Cook Inlet earlier this month. The young male whale was first spotted by boaters a mile upstream from the Seward Highway bridge on May 25.
The city identified 19 establishments in the municipality, Palmer and Seward where individuals infectious with COVID-19 "spent extended time."
As Anchorage continues to see a sharp uptick in new COVID-19 cases, two important components of the city’s public health resources are maxed out. The city is scrambling to train new contact tracers and expand testing facilities.