Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at a press conference in Anchorage on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at a press conference in Anchorage on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

Dunleavy wants to get economy going again, slowly and safely

With relatively low numbers, Gov wants to get back to work

Because the spread of COVID-19 has been relatively low, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said at a press conference in Anchorage Thursday, officials were looking at how to slowly reopen the economy.

“We want to do this as quick as possible, but not at the expense of the health of Alaskans,” Dunleavy said. “The moment we see something that is a spike or a cluster, then we’re going to act very quickly.”

On Wednesday Dunleavy announced the suspension on certain medical procedures was being lifted, and on Thursday said he was having conversations with representatives from the retail and hospitality industries about safely reopening those sectors.

When the state begins to reopen, more people would be tested, Dunleavy said, and any positive cases will be isolated quickly.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink announced an additional seven COVID-19 cases in the state Thursday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 300.

The Department of Health and Social Services recently updated its coronavirus response website, adding sections for the state’s health care capacity in addition to the numbers of cases in the state.

Dunleavy said the state has built up its health care capacity to the point where the economy can start to be reopened.

But the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Associated Press Tuesday he doesn’t believe the U.S. has the testing and tracing capacity to begin to reopen the economy.

“I’ll guarantee you, once you start pulling back there will be infections. It’s how you deal with the infections that’s going to count,” Fauci told the AP.

The key, Fauci said, was getting people who have been infected out of the general population. The problem was that scientists are not entirely sure how infectious asymptomatic people may be, he said.

The governor; however, was confident the state had the capacity to manage reopening the economy.

“We’re looking at the data we’re looking at how (cases) are appearing,” Dunleavy said. “We’re getting more and more testing. Our hospital capacity is in really good shape.”

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

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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