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State and Anchorage Increase Restrictions as COVID 19 Numbers Rise, Seward Hotspot

  • Published       Updated
  • Published       Updated
Photo: Viktor Hanacek

STATE OF ALASKA.  By some measures, Alaska has the highest COVID-19 transmission rate in the nation. To counter the surge in coronavirus cases, Governor Michael Dunleavy announced a new mandate starting Thursday, July 23, which requires masks for state workers and people who go into state-owned buildings and facilities.

Cordova, Gustavus, Juneau, Seward, and Valdez have already instituted mandatory use of masks in public.

“Starting tomorrow, you’re going to be required to stay six feet. If you cannot do that, we’re asking you to wear a face mask. We’re requiring you to wear a face mask,” Dunleavy declared at a press conference Wednesday.

ANCHORAGE The largest city in Alaska is addressing concerns that its medical capacity is unable to keep pace with the surge in coronavirus cases and is returning to a more limited capacity for private indoor and outdoor gatherings as well as most public spaces at the end of this week according to Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.

“Anchorage provides healthcare for most of the state,” Berkowitz said in a press conference Wednesday. “Looking at hundreds of cases coming in from seafood workers, that will put a burden on our ability to provide capacity for people in Anchorage, and so we’re watching what’s going on inside Anchorage as well as what’s happening outside the community."

Emergency Order 14 returns the city to a modified version of Phase Two in the MOA’s “Safe Anchorage: Roadmap to Reopening the Municipality of Anchorage” plan, and will take effect on Friday, July 24, at 8 a.m., with mandates as follows:

Gathering Limitations: Indoor gatherings are limited to no more than 25 people. Outdoor gatherings involving consumption of food or drink are limited to 50 people or fewer. This does not limit shopping at farmer’s markets or outdoor food-truck events or the continuation of drive-in events where groups remain in separate vehicles and maintain physical distancing.

Bars and Nightclub Capacity Limited: Bars and nightclubs are limited to 25 percent of maximum building occupancy indoors and outdoors; including staff and customers.

Restaurant and Brewery Capacity Limited: Restaurants and breweries are limited to 50 percent of maximum building occupancy indoors; including staff and customers. Outdoors, restaurants are limited to table service, with tables no less than 10 feet apart.

Capacity Limitations at Gyms, Bingo Halls, Theaters, and Other Recreation and Entertainment Facilities: Indoor entertainment and recreation facilities including gyms and bingo halls are limited to 50 percent of building occupancy.

Legible Visitor Logs Required: All establishments serving the public in a sit-down setting, or for an in-person appointment or service lasting fifteen minutes or longer, must keep a legible record of the first and last name, phone number, and email address of all adult customers or clients for no less than 30 days. This information will only be collected if needed for contact tracing or enforcement of this order.

SEWARD At the OBI Seafood Seward processing facility, 96 employees tested positive for COVID 19 on Wednesday, according to a press release from the City of Seward.  Eleven Seward residents who work at OBI and live off campus reportedly have tested positive.

All employees coming from outside Alaska to the facility were tested prior to arrival and twice while in quarantine before being released into the workforce, as part of OBI’s Community and Workforce Protective Plan according to ADHHS.  OBI is a newly merged company comprised of two of Alaska's oldest and largest seafood processing companies, Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Icicle Seafoods. Tuesday the company confirmed 12 positive cases in their Wood River canned salmon products processing plant in Dillingham. 

The Seattle-based factory trawler American Triumph docked in Seward Wednesday so a reported 85 COVID-19 infected crew members could be transported to Anchorage. American Seafoods Company reports on their website that they are relocating the crew to Anchorage to isolate and quarantine.

American Seafoods says they will support the crew members by providing quarantine facilities, daily meals, and accessible onsite medical care. They say they intend on sanitizing the vessel while it is docked in Seward. This is American Seafoods third ship to report a COVID-19 outbreak, according to their website.