November 12, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – The rapid spread of COVID-19 cases across Alaska, especially among health care workers and other essential first responders, is placing the state’s emergency response and health care systems at urgent risk. Today Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy urged Alaskans to take immediate action to combat the virus as the state remains in the red zone, indicating 101 or more new cases per 100,000 population.
By 10:00 am this morning, most Alaskans will receive an official State of Alaska emergency SMS text message stating COVID-19 cases are escalating and directing individuals to a video of the governor calling on Alaskans to work together to reduce infections over the next three weeks. Mass production of vaccines is expected at the end of November, and will continue into December and January.
“My job as governor is not to tell you how to live your life. My job is to ensure the security and safety of Alaska. I can’t do that without your help,” said Governor Dunleavy in his video address. “I’m asking you to reach deep for the next three weeks. If we can buy time for our critical workers – if we can keep our systems operational – we can avoid being forced to take further action. But if we cannot reduce the spread of this virus, we reduce our future options for how to proceed. No matter what you believe about the virus, the facts are the facts. Hospitalizations and sick healthcare workers are reaching untenable levels. We must act together now while we still have choices.”
Governor Dunleavy is taking the following executive actions:
- On Monday, November 16 at 12:01 a.m. his new 30-day COVID-19 disaster declaration takes effect.
- Effective immediately all State employees are to work from home whenever feasible.
- Face masks and social distancing are now mandatory at State work sites for both employees and visitors.
Governor Dunleavy and Alaska’s public health officials are now asking all businesses, organizations, and local governments to take the following actions through the end this month:
- Businesses, organizations, and local governments that can operate remotely are urged to send their employees home as soon as possible.
- Businesses and organizations that can offer food and supplies online with curbside pickup are urged to do so.
Distance remains the primary tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19. In order to keep hospitals, health care facilities, and businesses operating, all Alaskans are urged to:
- Maintain a distance of six feet apart from all non-household members.
- If a distance of six feet apart is not possible, wear a mask or face covering.
“We have sacrificed so much in order to fight this virus. Alaskans have done so well, and I am proud to be your Governor. With the advent of inoculations on the horizon, the end to this fight is in sight,” said Governor Dunleavy.
The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) System is designed to deliver emergency messages via cell phones to the public. The WEA system is commonly used to send Tsunami Warnings, Amber Alerts, and other messages that require immediate action. WEAs are one-way alerts to any cell phones in range of a cell tower, which ensures that authorities cannot collect any data from an individual. Wireless customers will not be charged for the delivery of WEA messages.
The governor has deemed the current escalation of COVID-19 infections among front-line workers, including healthcare staff, first responders, and servicemembers and their support crews, as an imminent threat to the safety of Alaskans.
A transcript of the governor’s video can be found here.