All state museums, libraries and archives will be closed until March 31, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Monday. All public activities connected to those institutions will be canceled as well.
The announcement was made Monday evening at a press conference in Anchorage with Alaska Chief Medical Office Dr. Anne Zink and Adam Crum, commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services.
The governor reiterated that taking small measures such as washing hands, social distancing and staying home can go a long way to prevent the spread of the virus.
“There is no reason to panic but there is reason to be concerned,” Dunleavy said. “Please refrain from shaking hands, look at social distancing yourselves.”
There were no additional known COVID-19 cases in Alaska, Zink said, and as of Monday evening the state had tested 250 people, with only the one previously announced positive result.
While the state was looking to expand its testing capabilities, Zink said it was difficult to say exactly how many people the state was able to test at any given time because there were so many variables.
“Those things are very variable numbers, we have ventilators in various locations,” Zink said in response to a question about how many testing kits and other medical supplies the state had. Zink didn’t want to give any numbers because “I would be wrong because that number changes all the time,” she said.
Zink did say that medical supply lines were being carefully monitored and that mitigation efforts on the part of the public were crucial to not overloading the health care systems. The state has requested additional supplies from the federal government, she said.
Dunleavy cautioned against panic buying, and said it wasn’t necessary to buy three-months worth of supplies from grocery stores.
He said the state had received assurance that the Port of Seattle would remain open, and even though Canada had closed its borders, Americans were not part of that closure so supply routes through that country would remain open.
The governor also said he had conversations Monday with both the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate a response to the crisis.
The administration would be releasing an economic plan in the coming days, Dunleavy said, to address the financial repercussions of the pandemic. His administration was getting ready to address the economic consequences of the crisis and what kind of programs will be available at both the state and federal level.
On the subject of mass closures of bars, restaurants and other businesses where people gather, Dunleavy said he was weighing that option.
“We have that discussion every day, sometimes twice a day,” he said.
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.
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