With COVID-19 cases mounting in Alaska, state officials are imposing new travel restrictions, effective Aug. 11, requiring all nonresidents to present proof of testing negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of arrival.
Tests for the novel coronavirus that have been provided free to all incoming travelers will continue to be available for residents only, as of that date.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy said state officials are still working on an enforcement policy for the new protocol and that a detailed plan will be announced soon.
Dunleavy made the announcement during a teleconference on Tuesday, July 28, in the wake an update from state health officials that showed 137 more people, including 110 residents and 27 nonresidents, had tested positive over Monday, July 27. That brought the total number of infected Alaskans to 2,729 people, plus 621 nonresidents.
Then on Wednesday, July 29, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said 91 more
people tested positive, including 67 residents in 11 communities, plus 24 nonresidents in five areas of the state. Resident cases include 51 in Anchorage, bringing the total number of infected in the municipality to 1,418, nine of whom have died.
There is currently only one free COVID-19 test site, operated by Providence Health & Services Alaska. Five new COVID-19 test sites in Anchorage are to open on Friday, July 31, operated by Visit Healthcare, an emergency response firm, to provide free testing through Oct.20.
In addition to Anchorage, new resident cases include four in Wasilla, two each in Kenai, Fairbanks and Soldotna and one each in Eagle River, Girdwood, Homer, Juneau, Prince of Wales/Hyder Census Area and Valdez.
New nonresident cases, including 12 seafood workers, were in the Kenai Peninsula and Matanuska-Susitna boroughs, the Valdez-Cordova Census Area, city and borough of Juneau and an unidentified location still under investigation.
To date 125 people have been hospitalized with the virus, including six new patients as of July 28. At present 34 people diagnosed with COVID-19 are hospitalized and 11 others are considered under investigation, for a total of 45 current COVID-19 related hospitalizations. The number of individual no longer requiring isolation for the virus now totals 854.
Twenty-two people have died of the virus.
Dunleavy said some communities have not seen the virus, and that given that a statewide masking mandate doesn’t make sense. “We are seeing more and more cases,” he said. “This virus is easily spread. We want to take a surgical approach to the virus. No matter what we do there will be a cost.”
Dunleavy also predicted that a vaccine for the virus will be available sometime between November and January.
As of July 28, 223,664 tests had been conducted. The average percentage of daily positive test for the previous three days as of July 29 was 1.95 percent.
Updates on the impact of COVID-19 are posted daily at coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com.
For Cordova updates, visit the city’s COVID-19 dashboard here.