Acting mayor ends Anchorage emergency declaration

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 10:18 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Acting Anchorage Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson has ended the formal COVID-19 emergency declaration for the city, she announced Tuesday.

During the mayor’s report section of Tuesday’s Anchorage Assembly meeting, Quinn-Davidson announced she issued a proclamation that day that ends the emergency declaration, which had been in effect since March 2020.

The declaration was enacted by former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz on the same day the city had its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19, Quinn-Davidson said.

“In the 14 months since, we’ve seen an incredible, life-saving emergency response in our community,” she said.

The city is able to do without the declaration now because case numbers continue to drop, Quinn-Davidson said during the meeting, and because COVID-19 vaccines are widely available.

“We’re able to end the emergency today for two reasons,” she said. “An improved public health situation and a reduced need for the administrative flexibility granted under a local emergency declaration.”

She noted that Anchorage has seen a “significant drop” in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks. On Tuesday, the state reported just 12 new cases among Anchorage residents.

Anchorage has recently been in the state’s intermediate risk level when it comes to community transmission of the virus. A community is in the intermediate risk level if its average daily case rate over the past 14 days is less than 10 cases per 100,000. Anchorage’s average case rate as of Tuesday was 5.39 cases per 100,000, according to state data.

“Vaccination rates have steadily increased,” Quinn-Davidson said. “and eligibility has continued to expand. The increase in vaccinations goes hand in hand with the decrease in cases that we’re seeing.”

The declaration allowed the mayor’s office to issue several emergency orders. They instituted COVID-19 restrictions from a mask mandate to social distancing requirements and capacity limitations for restaurants and bars.

Quinn-Davidson said the city has recently been stepping down its Emergency Operations Center, based on reduced complexity of operations needed to respond to the pandemic.

“Compared to just a few months ago, we are now in a stable enough position to transition core functions into existing municipal departments,” she said.

Transitioning the work of the Emergency Operations Center does not mean the pandemic is over or that the city will stop working to mitigate it, Quinn-Davidson said.

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