Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced a statewide social distancing order and a stop to in-state travel between communities during a Friday evening press conference.
The mandates came paired with news that there were 16 additional new COVID-19 cases in Alaska since Thursday, including one in Juneau, as well as one death in the state.
“All persons in Alaska, except for those engaged in essential health care services, public government services, and essential business activities, are mandated to remain at their place of residence and practice social distancing,” Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum.
People are still allowed to leave their homes, but are asked to stay six-feet apart, Crum said. The order would be in effect from 5 p.m. Saturday, March 28 and be re-evaluated on April 11.
The second health mandate prohibits unnecessary travel between communities.
“All in-state travel between communities, whether resident, worker, or visitor, is prohibited unless travel is to support critical infrastructure; or for critical personal needs,” the mandate says.
Additional information on the details of the mandates can be found on the state’s coronavirus website.
The first person to die from COVID-19 within the state was a 63-year-old woman with underlying health conditions, according to Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink.
Zink extended her condolences to the friends and family of the deceased, and added it is important to keep in mind there are people behind all the numbers that appear in the news.
“The next two weeks are going to be critical in slowing the spread of this virus,” Dunleavy said. “We want to try and isolate as many Alaskans as possible.”
Dunleavy said the Alaska National Guard was being prepared for a surge in COVID-19 cases in terms of emergency transportation and supplementing law enforcement.
State officials are expected to have more information on the state’s economic response on Monday, Dunleavy said.
“We haven’t seen the worst of this yet, but we are gearing up, we are getting ready for this,” Dunleavy said.