Peter Segall | Juneau Empire                                 Pedestrians in downtown Juneau on Monday, July 20, 2020. The City and Borough of Juneau approved a mandate for cloth face-covering in public spaces at a special meeting Monday night.

Peter Segall | Juneau Empire Pedestrians in downtown Juneau on Monday, July 20, 2020. The City and Borough of Juneau approved a mandate for cloth face-covering in public spaces at a special meeting Monday night.

Governor urges Alaskans to wear masks

Health and business groups join calls for health precautions

Gov. Mike Dunleavy strongly urged Alaskans to wear masks or cloth face coverings when in public, with or without a mandate.

“It’s a tool in place of social distancing,” Dunleavy said of mask-wearing. “My goal is not to get folks afraid. We’re going to get through this, but this is going to be a major inconvenience. We’re not talking about a mandate, we’re asking folks, especially younger folks, put up your guard.”

The state is seeing a spike in cases, and Dunleavy brought representatives from Alaska’s medical and business community to make strong requests for the public to wear masks when entering local businesses.

Dunleavy asked Alaskans to be vigilant about wearing masks at the news conference Wednesday alongside Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum; Chief of Epidemiology Dr. Joe McLaughlin; Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink; Anna Frick, DHSS research analyst; Kim Spink, DHSS nurse consultant; Sarah Oates, CEO/president of the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association; Silvia Villamides, executive director, Alaska Hospitality Retailers; and Kati Capozzi, president/CEO, Alaska Chamber of Commerce, each of whom asked that masks be worn in public places.

[94 new cases confirmed in Alaska]

People who come within six feet of another person should wear masks or take other health care precautions even while outside, McLaughlin said.

“Even if you’re going to be outdoors, it’s a good idea to have a face covering,” McLaughlin said. “Think of that 6-foot rule. It’s a good idea to have a mask or a face covering.”

Juneau Monday enacted a mask mandate, but that only applies indoors.

The recent spike in cases could partly be attributed to social gatherings where health precautions weren’t followed, Dunleavy said, and he asked Alaskans to social distance and wear masks when interacting with people from other households.

While the governor emphasized his requests were not a mandate, he did announce a requirement that masks be worn at all state buildings in areas where social distancing is not possible.

“If the cases are growing we want to do our part,” Dunleavy said. “A lot of us have let our guard down, gotten a little too close, a little too often.”

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

More in News

Meals slated for children in Juneau over Thanksgiving weekend are arrayed on tables at Thunder Mountain High School on Nov. 25, 2020. (Courtesy photo / Luke Adams)
Font of plenty: JSD readies meals for Thanksgiving holiday

Nearly three tons of food got distributed for the long weekend.

Travelers arrive at the Juneau International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, made up only about half of what the airport normally sees in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Centennial Hall, seen here on Tuesday, Nov. 24, is being used by the City and Borough of Juneau as an emergency facility during the coronavirus pandemic and will not host the annual Public Market which has taken place every weekend after Thanksgiving since 1983. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Want to buy Alaskan? Closed by pandemic, Public Market goes virtual

Normally throngs of Juneauites would be lined up around the block…

To capture the unexpected action- the unrepeatable moment- it should be instinctive.  In order to build the story you have to shoot the adjective.  In this photo the bald eagle had waited patiently for the right moment to pounce on an unsuspecting vole… the unexpected.  The best way to accomplish this is to master the art of the most difficult subject to photograph– birds in flight.  In order to do this you must learn your gear; it must become part of your muscle memory so you can concentrate on the story you are witnessing.  Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 150-600mm, shot at 600mm, ISO AUTO (1250), F6.3, 1/3200, Handheld. (Courtesy Photo / Heather Holt)
Focal Point: Great photos are just waiting in the wings

Learn to shoot the verb (and the bird).

Has it always been a police car. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Construction of the new Glory Hall, above, is going smoothly, said executive director Mariya Lovishchuk on Nov. 24, 2020. (Courtesy photo / Thor Lindstam)
Building a brighter future: New Glory Hall reaches skyward

The structure is rapidly progressing, shouldering aside inclement weather.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Tuesday, Nov. 24

The most recent state and local numbers.

Most Read