Seventeen new cases of Covid-19 infection in Alaska were announced by the state over the weekend -- two of them on the Kenai Peninsula.
According to the State Department of Health and Social Services, one new case was reported in Soldotna related to a person recently returning from Outside. The other case, reported in Sterling, was not travel related and its cause is being investigated. The other cases were in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Ketchikan, where three new cases popped up, as well as Juneau and the Mat-Su for the first time. None of the cases have required hospitalization, according to a release from DHSS, and all were among adults.
Borough Emergency Manager Dan Nelson and Information Officer Brenda Ahlberg announced the new cases on their Saturday night Facebook Live video chat, where they also talked about “responsible messaging.”
“We want to reassure our public that that's what we're here to do for you guys, is also to provide you the correct information. And we'd greatly appreciate it if we could align ourselves not only in the prevention protocols, but in the messaging that we're sharing with our friends and family,” Ahlberg said. “Because we're in this together, and we're going to help get through this together as long as we're making sure that we have the right information out at the right time to everyone.”
Questions were raised about ordering all businesses to close to the public on the Peninsula this week, as the governor did with restaurants and bars.
“Now many businesses have been adjusting their processes and practices to help us encourage that social distancing. So a great example is of course the restaurants and things that have converted to a takeout or a drive thru service as opposed to a dine-in service,” Nelson said. “Some of our stores have instituted some different hours for different groups and, trying to do some of those things. But at this time within the Kenai Peninsula Borough there is no mandate for those businesses.”
Nelson said the Kenai Peninsula, as a second-class borough, does not have the legal power to make such orders.
In a written statement, Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce reassured residents that essential borough services, such as fire and emergency, dispatch, solid waste and road maintenance will remain fully functional. Likewise, a statement from Alaska DOT Commissioner John MacKinnon said crews will continue to maintain state roads and airports to facilitate supply chain and safety access.
Nelson said that incoming passengers at state airports are being met in the terminals and being advised to self-isolate themselves for at least two weeks.
“The short answer is if you are coming into Alaska, yes, isolate yourself for 14 days at home. If you are with others at home, maintain that physical distance and take care to sanitize surfaces within the home repeatedly throughout that period. Let that 14 day period pass. That seems to be the upper limit of when people can be asymptomatic or not showing symptoms," he said. "So, once that 14 days passed, there's no symptoms, we can be assured from the information we're being given right now that you would not be a carrier, have the Covid-19 virus or a similar cold or flu infection.”
Nelson and Ahlberg are hosting half-hour updates on Facebook Live each evening at 7 p.m. Find more information on the KPB OEM blog.