Alaska - COVID-19 Covered

Alaska

Total Cases: 3,774 (August 10)
Tests Administered: 277,919 (January 1)
Fatalities: 26 (August 10)
Testing:
  • Information on COVID-19 testing in Alaska can be found here.

ECONOMIC RESPONSE

Essential Service Designations:

  • Governor Dunleavy issued an order specifying that essential businesses and services include (May 5):
    • Healthcare Operations and Public Health (such as hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, veterinary clinics, funeral homes)
    • Critical Infrastructure (such as public works, transportation, essential construction, critical manufacturing, food and agriculture)
    • Financial Services (such as banks)
    • Public Safety Services (such as first responders, correctional facilities and officers)
    • All Other Essential Businesses (such as those providing food and other necessities of life, restaurants, newspapers and other media services, gas stations and related facilities, hardware stores, utility and repair services, those providing mailing and shipping services, educational institutions, those providing laundry services, home care businesses, nursing homes and adult care facilities, professional services, and childcare facilities)
  • Governor Dunleavy issued a health mandate ordering all businesses, except those listed in Alaska Essential Services and Critical Workforce Infrastructure Order, to “cease all activities […] except Minimum Basic Operations” – the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, process payroll and employee benefits, etc. (March 27)

Labor & Workforce Guidance, Standards and Regulations:

  • State lawmakers removed a proposed state stimulus from the budget that would have provided $1,000 checks to Alaskans out of work or working reduced hours because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (March 30)
  • Governor Dunleavy signed HB 308, to expand unemployment insurance benefits by waiving the one-week waiting period, increasing weekly benefit amounts and protecting workers affected by COVID-19. (March 26)

Economic Stimulus & Relief:

  • The Alaska Department of Health & Social Services announced that $35 million of CARES Act funding will be distributed to nonprofits and faith-based organizations operating in the state. (July 10) 
  • Financial assistance will soon be available through a lottery to Alaskans struggling to pay their rent and mortgage payments due to COVID-19 pandemic-related income loss. Lottery winners will receive one-time payments of up to $1,200, which will come from $10 million in funding from the federal CARES Act administered by the Alaska Housing Financial Corp. (June 8) 
  • Governor Dunleavy has directed the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to work with federal partners to disperse funding to the Child Care Program Office in order to meet the needs of childcare providers across the state. (May 12) 
  • The Alaska Legislature has approved a bill that would lower rates for residents of state-supported elder-care facilities. (March 25) 

Business Support & Resources:

  • Alaska’s COVID-19 aid program for small businesses will reportedly no longer exclude those who received small amounts of federal aid, a rule change instituted after many businesses and legislators voiced their concerns that the rules for the program were too restrictive. (June 17)
  • Governor Dunleavy issued a health mandate allowing eligible emergency protective measures at the direction of state public health officials to be reimbursed, including the costs of NCS for both state and local jurisdictions to protect vulnerable populations. (April 13)
  • Governor Dunleavy amended one of his COVID-19 Disaster Orders of Suspension to include additional suspensions of certain state government fees and fines. (April 3)
  • Governor Dunleavy announced he had reached an agreement with the state’s lending community “to provide small business bridge loans to hurting businesses and their impacted employees.” (March 20)

SOCIAL RESTRICTIONS

Reopenings:

  • Travelers to Alaska will be charged $250 for an airport COVID-19 test. (August 7) 
  • Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum has further detailed the state’s new rules for nonresidents who travel into Alaskastating that all nonresidents arriving by air must either have a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to departure or proof of a pending test result taken within 72 hours of departure. Travelers will be required to upload a negative or pending test result into an online portal. Those who don’t have documentation of a negative test will be asked to upload proof that a test has been completed within 72 hours and then quarantine while awaiting their results. Testing will be available at airports for a fee. (August 4) 
  • Non-residents of Alaska must have a negative coronavirus test before entering the state beginning on August 11. Tests will no longer be administered to visitors at airports. (July 29) 
  • Governor Dunleavy announced a face mask mandate for state workers and those who enter state-owned buildings and facilities. (July 22) 
  • Anchorage Mayer Ethan Berkowitz issued an order limiting gathering sizes and the number of people allowed in bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Indoor gatherings of more than 25 people will be prohibited, and outdoor gatherings involving food and drink will be limited to 50 people, with some exceptions. Restaurants and breweries will operate at 50% capacity, while bars and nightclubs will operate at 25%. Indoor entertainment and recreation venues will be limited to 50% capacity. (June 22) 
  • Some assisted living facilities in Alaska are opening for in-person visitation again, with some restrictions. (July 16) 
  • Governor Dunleavy issued updated guidance for interstate and international travelersIndividuals tested for COVID-19 three to five days prior to their departure may enter the state after showing proof of negative test resultTravelers may not enter if they tested positive. (June 3) 
  • Governor Dunleavy announced Alaska’s economy will fully reopen on May 22, allowing bars, restaurants, gyms, retail stores, and all other businesses to open ahead of Memorial Day Weekend without any capacity restrictions imposed by the state. (May 19) 
  • Governor Dunleavy signed his 18th Health Mandate, allowing travel between communities on the road system and in-state travel by the Alaska Marine Highway System. (May 12) 

SCHOOL PLANNING

K-12:

  • The Anchorage School District announced its plan for K-12 education beginning on August 20. Students will be able to return to the classroom two days a week; the remaining three days will be remote. Students will also be required to wear masks while in class. (July 10) 
  • Alaska Education Commissioner Michael Johnson announced a framework for developing a plan for the state’s K-12 schools (here), including a list of considerations and scenarios schools should think about when planning for the 2020-2021 school year. (May 20)

State Higher Education:

  • A list of Alaska colleges and universities planning to reopen in the fall can be found here. 
  • University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen released a five-part plan outlining the university system’s phased approach toward reopening. (May 20)  

Produced by Marathon Strategies, an independent PR firm that delivers intelligent communications and research solutions. For information, email Phil Singer at COVID-19@marathonstrategies.com