Anchorage Assembly votes to extend emergency declaration to Jan. 15

The Anchorage Assembly voted 7-3 to extend the Municipality's emergency declaration.
The Anchorage Assembly voted 7-3 to extend the Municipality's emergency declaration.(Matt Leseman)
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 5:50 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly voted 7-3 Monday night to extend the Mayor’s emergency declaration out to Jan. 15. This is the first extension to occur while Austin Quinn-Davidson serves as acting mayor, and at the beginning of Monday’s meeting, Quinn-Davidson advocated for the extension, pointing to rising case numbers and a hospital system currently experiencing staffing shortages.

“Help is not on the way,” she said. “Cases are spiking across the country and health care workers are in demand everywhere; the only thing we can do is protect our current healthcare workforce.”

She went on to add that at the current rate of community spread, hospitals are expected to be overwhelmed by the end of the year.

Despite that warning, many who called in or spoke during public testimony at the meeting were opposed to an extension. Some argued that they wanted to be able to make their own decisions about wearing masks or attending large gatherings and that the Assembly should be relying on individuals to take personal responsibility to keep the spread of the virus under control. Others raised concerns that emergency orders from the mayor have hurt businesses in the Municipality.

However, others called in to support the extension, including Julie Saupe, President and CEO of Visit Anchorage, and Bill Popp, President and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation. Both argued that many businesses are recognizing the need for measures to slow the spread of the virus, and Popp advocated for strong workplace safety measures to protect employees and ensure businesses could keep staffing levels high enough to remain open.

“When a local hospital rents a mobile morgue, that’s kind of a sign that nature gives that there is trouble on the horizon,” he said.

No new emergency orders or changes to existing ones were announced Monday.

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