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Alaska officials close public schools to students through March 30 to limit spread of coronavirus

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: March 14
  • Published March 13

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State officials announced new measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in Alaska on Friday, including an extended closure for public schools from March 16 to 30.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy told news media Friday that the move basically extends this week’s spring break for many K-12 public school students, while teachers and staff will have in-service days. All after-school activities will be suspended during that period. However, there wasn’t any change to residential school programs, Dunleavy said.

The measures come a day after state officials announced the first positive case of the novel coronavirus in Alaska, involving a man on a cargo flight who came through Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

There were no new positive cases of the novel coronavirus Friday, Alaska’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, told reporters.

As of noon Friday, 144 samples had been tested and all but one were negative, Zink said. When asked about the state’s supply of ventilators, Zink said that “we do not see any significant limitations in our health care infrastructure at this time.”

Officials urged residents to seriously reconsider non-essential travel as the number of COVID-19 cases has been rising globally. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday.

As part of the measures announced Friday, Dunleavy said visitation would be suspended to certain state facilities, including Department of Corrections facilities, Division of Juvenile Justice youth facilities, the Alaska Psychiatric Institute and the Alaska Military Youth Academy.

Limited visitation will be available at Pioneer Homes. That means “one visitor per day requiring a robust health screening, including no fever, cough, difficulty breathing or contact with anyone under investigation for COVID-19 in the last 14 days," Dunleavy said.

Dunleavy said the visitation measures will be continually evaluated and may be rescinded by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services or the governor depending on the evolving situation with the novel coronavirus.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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