With the statewide COVID alert level at high with outbreaks growing in Anchorage, Fairbanks, the Northwest Region and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Thursday Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy virtually addressed the Alaska Federation of Natives 2020 Convention, speaking on public health in the face of a global pandemic.
Dunleavy suggested a collaborative approach to protect rural communities from COVID-19.
“From the very beginning, we worked with individuals representing AFN, tribal health, and our rural communities, on a collaborative and consistent basis. Frequent meetings occurred, and still occur, between my administration, representatives of rural Alaska, and our Native communities, in an effort to protect our people.”
Dunleavy extolled the success of local control in safeguarding from an outbreak.
“We chose to emphasize local control, allowing communities unprecedented latitude to protect themselves. We collected over 2,600 community protection plans. These ensured our mining, oil, and commercial fishing operations didn’t threaten vulnerable populations. As a result, our communities have been kept safe relative to past pandemics, and critical industries were able to operate. At the airports, over a quarter-million travelers were screened for infection. About 400 COVID-19 cases were caught before any Alaskans were put in danger. None of this would’ve been possible without the close collaboration of our leaders, both in rural Alaska, and our Native leaders statewide.”
The video and full transcript from Governor Dunleavy’s video address to AFN can be found here.
In related news, an staffer in the Governor’s office tested positive for the coronavirus over the weekend, prompting the testing of additional office staff. Governor Dunleavy and Lt. Governor Keven Meyer both tested negative.