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As coronavirus case count climbs, state announces changes to interstate travel allowances

The move comes as the state reports 137 total new cases of COVID-19 across Alaska along with one new death
MGN photo.
MGN photo.(MGN photo)
Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 5:45 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - You can watch the LIVE stream of the governor’s press conference at KTUU.com or on the Channel 2 News Facebook page.

Visitors to Alaska wanting to travel in from outside of the state will have new restrictions to consider following an update Tuesday from Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink.

Starting on Aug. 11, all non-residents must arrive with a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to arrival, Dunleavy said. Testing will no longer be available for non-residents when they arrive to Alaska airports, though residents may still be tested upon arrival.

“No matter what we do, it will be with a cost,” Dunleavy said during a press briefing Tuesday. “It may not be heavy in some instances, and it may be heavy in others.”

Dunleavy said the state will be working on the issue of enforcing that new protocol over the next couple of weeks, with a more detailed plan to be made public in the near future.

The announcement comes after a report from the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services the same day that shows a total of 137 new cases of coronavirus identified in people in Alaska, bringing the state’s count to 3,350, including 2,729 Alaska residents. Of the new cases, 110 were in residents and 27 were in nonresidents.

With one new death out of Fairbanks reported Tuesday, 22 Alaskans have died of coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. At least 213,875 coronavirus tests have been administered to date. Zink said Alaska’s testing capacity is “fairly robust,” even though “the turnaround times can be fairly long.”

“We’ve been dealing with this for six months,” said Dunleavy. “This is not something any of us planned, any of us thought about. You read about these things, you see them in science fiction movies, but here we are.”

The governor also provided some information, supplemented by a state mitigation level matrix, as to how local communities can impose their own health mandates to help control the spread of COVID-19.

“We talk a lot about individual approaches,” he said. “It’s not just the state that has the ability to mitigate - put into place advisories, restrictions, etc. What we’re seeing now is a rise in cases on the Railbelt, from Kenai, to Anchorage, to Mat-Su, to the Fairbanks area. We have a bit of an outbreak - that I think is being handled - in Juneau as well.

“The long and short of it is that local municipalities in Alaska have that ability,” he said. “Anchorage has instituted some advisories and restrictions. Other local areas around the state can do the same.”

Zink also added that DHSS is “revamping” its online data dashboard to include additional information such as place of residency and occurrence. Those changes should be reflected on the site as early as next week, she said.

You can read the full list of health mandates from the State of Alaska and details of each by heading over to this website.

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