Mayor asks community to help bring COVID-19 numbers down so schools can open safely

The Anchorage School District logo at the district's headquarters in Anchorage
The Anchorage School District logo at the district's headquarters in Anchorage
Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 8:28 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage health officials said Friday that children returning to the classroom will likely bring cases of COVID-19 to Anchorage schools. Dr. Bruce Chandler, medical officer for Anchorage, made the statement during a weekly health briefing carried live on the Municipality of Anchorage Facebook page.

“I commend the school district’s intensive planning and preparations for re-opening but we recognize we will have COVID-19 in schools,” said Chandler. “The more we do to reduce COVID-19 in the community and the more we teach and model safe behaviors with our kids, the less problems we will see.”

Chandler said Anchorage has seen a total of 424 positive COVID-19 cases among school-aged children, adding that 80% of those cases were detected in the last two months.

Municipal Epidemiologist Janet Johnston said the short-term projection is that overall cases of COVID-19 in the community will decrease. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said he would like to see numbers drop so that schools can open safely. He said everyone has a responsibility to help.

“We have roughly a month to bring those numbers down,” said Berkowitz. “So the more we mask-up, the more we maintain physical distancing, the more we avoid high-risk behavior, the more the likelihood the school district can do what it set out to do and kids can go back to school.”

Health officials say one thing everyone can do to try and stay healthy is getting a flu shot. The Municipal Health Department will begin sponsoring free drive-through flu shot clinics at local schools as early as next week.

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