Gov. Mike Dunleavy urged Alaskans to remain diligent in following health guidelines and practicing social distancing in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. Case numbers are rising, the governor said Tuesday at a press conference in Anchorage, but Alaska’s hospitalizations and deaths remain low largely, he said, because the virus typically only leads to sever symptoms in a small percentage of people.
“The virus is real, it’s alive and it’s spreading,” Dunleavy said. “The vast majority of Alaskans, many of them don’t even know they have the virus. This virus, although highly contagious, is concentrating the worst effects on those with underlying health effects and the elderly.”
The governor encouraged health guidelines such as social distancing and cloth face coverings, but remained committed to not mandating they be worn in public.
Wearing a mask, “has become somewhat politicized” he said.
“But it doesn’t have to be that way,” Dunleavy said. “If I go to a store, I will cover my face. You should think that everybody around you they may be going home to individuals that fall into one of those (vulnerable) categories.”
The Fourth of July weekend was likely to see a large number of get-togethers, Dunleavy said, and he hoped Alaskans would be responsible for themselves and for others, and “show this country that Alaskans can think of each other.”
As the state opens up, contact tracing has become more difficult, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, who said patients are reporting having more contacts in more places throughout the state.
The increase in cases nationwide has led to delays in turnaround times for laboratory results for COVID-19 tests, Zink said, and that health precautions such as social distancing and wearing a mask have been shown to help limit the spread of the virus.
“We’re seeing more and more examples across the nation where wearing a mask, washing hands, social distancing really makes a difference,” Zink said.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.