Lots of new info as Covid mandates change

Apr 24, 2020

Credit PBS

This week’s Covid-19 Brief on KBBI Thursday morning filled in a lot of blanks regarding the governor’s Tuesday mandate to begin the first phase of reopening Alaska businesses.
    Jennifer Carroll, information officer for the city’s unified command, formed after the mayor declared a Covid-19 emergency last month, says the openings will be measured.
    “Governor  Dunleavy's unveiling this in a five phase process and looking at it every two weeks. So it's going to be a prolonged and slow opening,” she said. “I would not expect all the city offices and recreation and whatnot to just open up overnight. We're going to be measured and careful for everyone's health.
    Carroll says business owners and managers will need to check with the State of Alaska’s Covid-19 page for specifics on reopening, as will the city.
    “They have all the mandates there and what is required for businesses to be able to open. And we will be looking at that as the city as well, because we're a business as well,” she said. “And as we look at those and can ensure that we have those practices in place, we will actually be looking over those plans to see how the city can safely resume operations as usual.”
    Homer Fire Chief Mark Kirko, the commander of the Emergency Operations Center, says the openings are only possible because Alaskans have done such a good job so far in following social distancing rules and he wouldn’t want to see that advantage lost.
    “You know, I've heard a lot of comments recently that why did we go to this extreme of what we've done? There's no cases here in Homer really to speak of other than the, the, the one local one. But I think the reason that we did what we did and took the precautions that we took was to prevent. all of that from coming, of getting out of control like it had in some other United States communities, and even some parts of Alaska,” Kirko said. “So I feel like we put up a good defense, but we don't want to just take that defense all the way down and allow for the infection to start to come into Homer into a greater rate.”
    Likewise, South Peninsula Hospital’s Derotha Ferraro said reopening there will happen slowly.
     “So I'd like to think of this as still (a) prevention strategy, right? I heard the Chief say, we went into these extreme measures to prevent the spread. We're still in ‘prevent the spread.’ It's just that instead of being at a level 10 of prevention, now we're going to shift to maybe a nine or an eight level. So this is still in prevention mode,” Ferraro said. “It's not open up. It's not go back. It's still prevention. So the hospital is, we're kind of slowly resuming services. I call it a crawl. The most important part of all of this is making sure the provider, whether it's the hospital or a local restaurant, making sure the service provider has the systems in place to prevent the spread.”
    And though tests for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 have become more readily available, and lab turnaround times are expected to drop to a couple of days as tests will be conducted in-state at the Alaska Native Medical Center instead of being sent Outside, Nurse Lorne Carroll cautions that a test result is just a snapshot in time.
    “So moving forward, testing doesn't really have any use. It doesn't tell you about the future,” he said. “That is, it's not a useful tool moving forward, like for working with others or holding back on community mitigation measures. So in other words, we've got to keep going with community mitigation measures.”
    You can hear all of Thursday’s Covid-19 Brief with Kathleen Gustafson here.

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