A commercial van with signs on its back windows is driven through downtown Anchorage, Alaska, Wednesday, as part of a caravan of more than 80 vehicles. Participants urged local and state leaders to open up businesses shuttered temporarily while residents were told to stay home. The state will allow some businesses to open Friday, and the city of Anchorage will allow some Monday. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

A commercial van with signs on its back windows is driven through downtown Anchorage, Alaska, Wednesday, as part of a caravan of more than 80 vehicles. Participants urged local and state leaders to open up businesses shuttered temporarily while residents were told to stay home. The state will allow some businesses to open Friday, and the city of Anchorage will allow some Monday. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

New mandate breaks down reopening protocols

Dunleavy outlines details for nonessential businesses; test criteria loosens

Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued a new health mandate on Wednesday that provides more details and guidelines for nonessential businesses as some of them prepare to reopen this Friday.

Dunleavy, along with Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, spoke during their nightly conference about phase one of the state’s efforts to restart the economy, which was first announced on Tuesday. Officials also discussed Alaska’s current COVID-19 numbers and some of the expanded testing capabilities within the state.

Mandate 16, which will go into effect at 8 a.m. on April 24, provides a new set of guidelines for the operation of certain nonessential businesses, which have been limited in their ability to operate since the issuance of Mandate 11 on March 27.

Crum said on Wednesday that all other health mandates remain in effect, but Mandate 16 takes precedent in any instance where its guidelines conflict with a previous mandate.

The mandate divides businesses into several different categories and provides separate guidelines for each category.

Attachment D provides guidelines for nonessential, public-facing businesses except retail.

Attachment E provides guidelines specifically for retail.

Attachment F provides guidelines for restaurants that offer dine-in services.

Attachment G provides guidelines for personal care services, including hair salons, barber shops, tattoo shops and tanning facilities.

Attachment H provides guidelines for nonessential businesses that generally do not interact with the public, like engineering firms and other professional services.

Expanded testing

Zink said during the press conference that 10,858 tests have been conducted for COVID-19 in Alaska at a positivity rate of about 3.1%.

Locally, Central Peninsula Hospital has administered 294 tests, with 257 coming back negative, six coming back positive and 31 pending results. South Peninsula Homer has administered 198 tests, with 182 coming back negative, one coming back positive and 15 pending results.

The criteria a person needs to meet in order to be tested are no longer as narrow as they were initially. Currently, Zink said, anyone experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 — fever, cough or shortness of breath — can get a referral for a test by their primary care physician or their local community health provider. The state now has 111 designated sample collection sites, and Zink said that over 60 facilities, including SPH in Homer, can perform an analysis of the samples along with the two state labs in Fairbanks and Anchorage.

As the ability to test for COVID-19 expands, Zink said that Alaska’s infection rate appears to be staying relatively low. Based on the projections of the state’s epidemiology team, Zink said, the amount of time that it would take for Alaska’s case count to double is currently estimated at about 30 days.

COVID-19 in Alaska: By the numbers

Six new cases were reported on Wednesday, bringing the total to 335 Alaskans who have tested positive for COVID-19. This includes 196 people who have recovered from the disease.

Of the six new cases reported on Wednesday, four are Anchorage residents, one is a Wasilla resident and one is a Juneau resident. Two of the new cases are men and four are women. Three of the new cases are under the age of 10. One is aged 10-19, and two are aged 20-29.

Nine Alaskans have died and 36 have been hospitalized from the disease, but there were no new hospitalizations or deaths reported Wednesday.

On the Kenai Peninsula, 19 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the following communities: Anchor Point (one), Homer (two), Kenai (four), Seward (three), Soldotna (six) and Sterling (three). This includes an Anchor Point resident who died while out of state and a Homer resident who was tested and treated in Anchorage.

In the Municipality of Anchorage, 164 people have tested positive for COVID-19, including four Chugiak residents, eight Eagle River residents and three Girdwood residents.

In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, 63 Fairbanks residents have tested positive, as well as 15 North Pole residents and one additional resident of an unspecified community within the borough.

In the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Wasilla has 10 cases and Palmer has 19.

In the Southeast, Juneau has 26 cases, Ketchikan has 16, Petersburg has three and Craig has two.

Delta Junction, Nome, Bethel, Kodiak and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area each have one case. Communities with fewer than 1,000 residents are included in the total for their borough or census area but not individually reported.

COVID-19 resources

For the latest information on the health mandates issued by the state, including Mandate 16, visit https://covid19.alaska.gov/health-mandates.

For the latest information about COVID-19 local to the Kenai Peninsula Borough, visit the borough’s website at kpboem.com.

For the latest statewide data on COVID-19, visit the Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub at https://coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com.

For the latest guidance from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

For the latest international updates on COVID-19, visit the website for the World Health Organization at www.who.int.

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