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Gov. Dunleavy extends state’s COVID-19 disaster declaration to aid vaccine distribution

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Gov. Mike Dunleavy is extending Alaska’s COVID-19 public health disaster emergency until mid-February.

Dunleavy on Thursday issued a 30-day declaration, effective Friday, that “enables the state’s ongoing response to the increased outbreak of COVID-19 and is necessary to manage the efficient and orderly administration of vaccines to Alaskans and address a new strain” of the virus identified last month in England, according to the governor’s office.

Dunleavy has twice before extended the declaration after first declaring an emergency in March: in November when hospitals urged him to, and again in December.

The declarations help streamline various bureaucratic processes and provide legal authority for health mandates, in addition to facilitating waivers for delivering health care.

As of Thursday, 227 Alaskans had died with COVID-19. More than 39,300 vaccination doses have been administered out of 114,800 received after the first vials arrived here in mid-December.

The new declaration renews the state’s COVID-19 Outbreak Health Orders, which include travel restrictions and seafood industry protocols.