Travelers coming to Alaska will have to show they’ve tested negative if they want to avoid the 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers, per new state rules announced Wednesday.
At a press conference in Anchorage, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said the new rules try to strike a balance between ensuring the health of Alaskans while making it easier for people to come to the state.
Travelers to Alaska will have to quarantine, said Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum, unless they can show they had a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test showing negative results within 72 hours prior to departure.
“We’re going to have screeners at the airport, vouchers for a second test,” Crum said. “This will prevent the virus coming into the state while still providing (travelers) room to work with.”
Health Mandate 10.1 goes into effect Saturday, June 6, at 12:01 a.m.
Those entering the state who do not have proof of negative results can obtain testing locally, Crum said, but will be asked to quarantine until the results came back negative. If the results came back positive, local authorities would work with that person to find medical treatment, Crum said.
The state is contracting with local agencies — some public, some private — to hire extra screeners for airports, Crum said. The screening operations in Juneau are currently being run by Capital City Fire/Rescue and according to Heidi Hedberg, DHSS director of Public Health, that arrangement would continue with the state paying for extra screeners.
But the announcement came as some lawmakers are calling for a mandate requiring face coverings in public. The state had its largest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases Sunday, followed by two more days of higher than normal case counts. On Tuesday the State announced 20 cases split between Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula Borough. State data Wednesday showed 18 cases, with five cases coming from the Matanuska-Sustina Borough.
Dunleavy said that increased travel will likely lead to more cases, but the state’s health care capacity would be able to deal with those cases, so long as Alaskans work together.
“Our plan is to manage this virus in our world today,” Dunleavy said. “We have to take actions as individuals (to limit spread), the key is to make sure the hospitals can handle this increase.”
Dunleavy said he would rather rely on people’s cooperation than issue a mask mandate.
“Just think of each other, think of others think of yourself,” he said. “If we work together it won’t be that unmanageable spike that people are warning about.”
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.