Three new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said at a press conference in Anchorage alongside Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum Tuesday evening.
Because of the increasing number of cases, Zink announced a new health mandate closing all establishments serving dine-in food or drinks that will be effective 5 p.m. March 18. Take-out and drive-thru service will still be allowed, she said.
Anyone who had traveled to countries where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued a level 3 travel warning for, such as China or any country in Europe should self-quarantine for at least 14 days, Zink said. Anyone who had traveled outside the state should do the same, she said.
The health mandates are difficult, she said, but necessary to contain the spread of the virus.
“We’ve seen just in a few days that we’ve had no cases, to one case, to a few cases,” Zink said. “But please remember that small things that you do can save a life.”
All three of the new patients — one from Anchorage, one from Fairbanks and one from Ketchikan — were doing well, Zink said. Two of them were “older” and one was in their 20s, she said.
Also joining the press conference via telephone were members of the legislative leadership. Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, said the Legislature stands with the governor in trying to solve the crisis, both in terms of public health and the economy.
“You are the forefront of our minds, you are constantly what we are thinking about and we are working collaboratively,” said Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage. “Your government is working together hand-in-hand,”
The case in Ketchikan was an employee of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, who was confirmed to have contracted the COVID-19 virus, the Ketchikan Daily News reported Tuesday. The individual “has a history of travel to the Lower 48,” the city said in a press release and state health officials were working to identify anyone who had come into contact with the person.
People who have any symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath need to stay away from other people, Zink said. She repeated advice to wash hands, clean surfaces and social distance at all times, even if there were no signs of symptoms.
“Cases will grow, we’ll continue to change our protocols,” Dunleavy said. “There’s no need to panic. We help each other, we can get through this.”
Information on the coronavirus is available from websites for the City and Borough of Juneau, the State of Alaska at coronavirus.alaska.gov and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with flu-like symptoms are encouraged to contact their health care provider.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.