An Alaska Airlines cargo/passenger jet lifts off from the Juneau International Airport in this December 2014 photo. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

An Alaska Airlines cargo/passenger jet lifts off from the Juneau International Airport in this December 2014 photo. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

City and state advise against long-distance travel

They recommend canceling nonessential long-distance trips

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly wants Gov. Mike Dunleavy to prohibit nonessential air travel to isolated communities like Juneau.

At a special COVID-19-focused meeting Thursday, the Assembly voted unanimously to send Dunleavy a letter asking him to stop unneeded travel to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

“I think it’s very important that we send a message that this should be strongly considered and done sooner rather than later” said Assembly member Greg Smith during the meeting.

Assembly member Wade Bryson said it was important that the definition of nonessential travel makes it clear that Juneau residents attempting to return home are able to do so.

“We need to protect Juneauites, and if we have Juneauites in hazardous areas, we still want Juneauites to come home to their families,” Bryson said.

While the governor did not issue a ban on such travel, Friday afternoon, a health alert was issued by Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink and Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum. It strongly recommends Alaskans stop nonessential personal, business and medical travel that takes them out of state.

[City announces public facility closings]

The alert advised against long-distance, in-state travel, too.

Alaskans outside of the state are encouraged to return home within the next 30 days, per the alert, and any traveler who leaves a community with known cases of COVID-19 should self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival to their destination community and monitor for symptoms of illness.

Following that period, the alert stated appropriate social distancing should be followed.

During the Assembly meeting, Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove, serving as the Emergency Operations Center’s Incident Commander, told the Assembly what is happening at the local level to prepare for and potentially delay the arrival of COVID-19 in the capital city.

She said Juneau International Airport began as of 6 p.m. Thursday offering voluntary screening to people arriving to the airport.

People have the option to get a temperature check. People with a temperature of 100.4 or above will be advised about contacting a health care provider, self-quarantining and transport, according to a City and Borough of Juneau release.

Capital City Fire/Rescue will handle the screening for now, said City Manager Rorie Watt in an email to the Empire.

However, eventually, he said the job could be done by a city employee displaced by the impact of the coronavirus.

Watt said exactly who that will be is not yet decided, but lifeguards or members of the ski patrol are possibilities.

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