Strong travel guidelines were issued by the State of Alaska Friday night in the light of what Alaska's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink classified as "exponential" growth in coronavirus cases in the State.
Governor Michael Dunleavy strongly advised against any non-essential travel out or within the state with particular vigilance and care being taken when traveling to remote rural communities with minimal healthcare resources.
Positive COVID-19 cases from the villages are planned to be brought to a hub for treatment so that local medical resources don't get strapped, says Alaska Health Commissioner Adam Crum.
Dunleavy warned that community outbreaks could trigger a lockdown, and while the state was trying to keep ahead of the outbreak and give Alaskans a sense of normalcy, nothing was off the table.
The state is preparing to implement more outbreak management tools following the advise received by medical professionals, the CDC and healthcare professionals in Washington DC, says Dunleavy, who also mentioned that Anchorage was looking at tightening up their social distancing management starting on Sunday.
Dunleavy recommended that tourists go home and all visitor-related operations should immediately suspended reservations. Students and snowbirds should make their way back to Alaska as carefully as possible.
Traveling employees were told to suspend non-essential travel and everyone who has been traveling should self-quarantine for two weeks, Dunleavy says.
Simply passing a COVID-19 test did not clear travelers from the risk of being non-symptomatic disease carriers, said Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink at a press conference Friday night, which is why self-isolating for 14 days is so important. Zink says maintaining a six-foot social distance is recommended even after the two week waiting period.
Zink asked young adults who were less likely to experience debilitating symptoms of COVID-19 to be proactive in calling elders to make sure they were okay, offering to babysit, and helping the medical community with immediate needs like the current demand for blood donors.
Zink also asked those who had a personal supply of masks to let their local health care professionals know if they would be willing to share them with front line health care workers. Volunteers were being called into action and asked to register with the State.
Zink made a specific call for doctors and nurses who may be retired and willing to be put back into service. noting that even high risk personnel could be used to man COVID-19 information lines. Zink pleaded with physicians to get immediately credentialed at all hospitals in their area as there was no way to tell where the strongest need might have to be met.