“We’re going to stay slow and steady”: Anchorage could move into next phase of reopening next week

Published: May. 20, 2020 at 4:00 PM AKDT
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While Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the state is able to start reopening on May 22, the Municipality of Anchorage is going to evaluate on Friday whether or not to move into its next phase of reopening Monday.

A press release from the municipality stated that it anticipates being able to move into phase three of its reopening plan next week but that the current emergency orders will remain in effect until a decision is made.

There are several considerations that go into whether or not Anchorage should move into its next phase including the difference in population density in the city versus the rest of the state and concerns about health care capacity. Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said PPE is still unstable and uncertain, especially as elective surgeries are back in operation.

“The hospital capacity in Anchorage is effectively the hospital capacity for the entire state,” Berkowitz said. “If there are major issues elsewhere in Alaska those patients come here.”

The third phase of the municipality’s plan is called Maintenance. In this phase schools and workplaces are able to open with safety measures, gathering sizes are increased and there are no restrictions on domestic travel and transportation.

The municipality's plan states that a move into this phase should only happen if there are downward trends in widespread community transmission of COVID-19 and individual cases are traced and isolated.

Phase three is the last phase in the municipality’s plan before “Phase 4: New Normal.” Resuming daily life like this phase suggests can only occur if a vaccine or anti-viral treatment is created and accessible.

“I think the idea that we are going back to the way things were ignores the reality that we can’t go back to the way things were,” Berkowitz said. “It’s also really important to emphasize that we can’t get where we are going if we are just looking backwards.”

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