Some North Slope flights suspended to prevent COVID-19 spread

Published: Mar. 18, 2020 at 9:09 PM AKDT
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An Alaskan oil giant has suspended some of its flight services in the state and altered many employees' schedules in hopes of reducing the chances of exposure to the new coronavirus for those who work on the North Slope.

ConocoPhillips Director of Communications Natalie Lowman said Wednesday evening that the company is "asking all business-critical North Slope personnel to extend their shifts by two weeks," while flights north for shift changes have been canceled. All non-essential personnel will be leaving the North Slope and asked to work from home or placed on extended leave.

Those living outside of Alaska, she said, and all who have traveled out of the state and are scheduled to travel to the North Slope are being asked by the company to self-quarantine for two weeks before the start of their next scheduled shifts.

The State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has also suggested that anyone arriving to Alaska from out of state should self-isolate for at least 14 days.

"By self-quarantine, we mean that people not travel outside of Alaska and comply with all measures issued by the CDC and State of Alaska," Lowman wrote in an email. "If circumstances change, we may require stricter self-quarantine measures."

The company flies only between Anchorage and Kuparuk, and the changes specifically affect employees working at the Kuparuk and Alpine oil fields, which the company operates. Lowman said health checks, including checking temperatures, will remain in place.

"As we move through this, our priorities remain," Lowman wrote, "protect the health and well-being of our workforce and their families; help mitigate the spread of the virus; and safely run our business."

As of Wednesday evening, no cases of the new coronavirus in the North Slope had been reported by the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Department.

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