Over 2000 travelers come to Alaska following updated travel mandates

 (KTUU File)
(KTUU File) (KTUU)
Published: Jun. 9, 2020 at 10:20 PM AKDT
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Less than a week into new travel mandates from the state and municipality, over 2000 people have traveled into Alaska from out of state, according to the Department of Health and Social Services. Some of those people arriving were aware of testing requirements, while others got a bit of a surprise stepping off the plane.

“Well it was a little disorganized,” said Pierre Dupont, a traveler arriving in Anchorage Tuesday night. “I was kind of surprised, they didn’t give us any information that was going to happen at all.”

The mandates require that passengers arriving in Alaska fill out a travel declaration form, saying whether they’ve been testing before coming in.

For people who were aware ahead of time and came from a place with access to testing, that was no issue.

“I was fortunate enough to be in Michigan, where they have a drive-through COVID test, and got my results and had it filled out,” said Bridget Kuhns, a Homer resident returning home from visiting family. “So I was able to walk right through.”

Those who haven’t been tested either need to be tested on-site at the airport, or go into a 14-day quarantine. For some coming to visit Alaska, that 14 days could put a stop to the trip, but for Brian Bartholme, another traveler arriving Tuesday, it wasn’t much of an issue.

“I’m going out remote anyways,” he said. “There’ll only be about 5 of us out there, so it’s the perfect place to self-quarantine.”

According to DHSS, the airport test has been the most popular option, with over 600 tests done at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport since Saturday.

“They can either choose to test here at the airport, which is what about half the people are doing, and then we’re seeing about a quarter choose to self-quarantine for 14 days, then the other quarter are coming to Alaska with negative tests in-hand,” said Tessa Walker Linderman, Port of Entry Coordinator for DHSS.

Despite that popularity, state and municipal officials are still urging individuals to try and get tested before stepping on the plane. That reduces the chances of another COVID-19 case coming to Alaska, which means less strain on the state’s resources.

“If someone gets sick here, it’s using our resources, our contact tracers, our hospital resources to take care of that person,” said Anchorage Municipal Attorney Kate Vogel.

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