Alaska News

Interior Department employees will soon need to be regularly tested for coronavirus if they don’t get vaccinated

The Department of the Interior is complying with White House guidance that federal employees and contractors will be asked to show they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be regularly tested if they are not.

In Alaska, there are more than 2,500 employees at Interior, including at agencies like the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The agency is strongly encouraging all employees and contractors to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and is working on a way to determine employee and contractor vaccination status that fits with recent White House guidance, according to the Interior’s website.

That guidance, released by Democratic President Joe Biden in late July, says that any onsite contractor or employee who is not vaccinated will have to wear a mask, physically distance and “comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel.”

An Aug. 6 email to agency employees from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, obtained by the Daily News, described the department’s updated guidelines, saying the new process will be implemented “in the coming days and weeks.”

Employees who aren’t fully vaccinated also will “soon” be required to go through COVID-19 testing in order to enter federal buildings, according to the email.

Additionally, employees, contractors and visitors who aren’t fully vaccinated must wear masks indoors and continue to physically distance themselves.


Federal employees, contractors and visitors — regardless of vaccination status — must wear masks in areas where COVID-19 transmission is high, according to the email.

In the email, Haaland said 35 Interior employees agency-wide have died from COVID-19.

Morgan Krakow

Morgan Krakow covers education and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. Before joining the ADN, she interned for The Washington Post. Contact her at