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Anchorage Health Department lays out criteria for naming businesses with COVID-19 exposure

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After releasing a list of establishments last week where people may have been exposed to COVID-19, the Anchorage Health Department on Thursday laid out more detailed criteria for publicly naming exposure locations.

In a written statement, the city health department described two situations when a location will be named:

1. If it has determined someone who is infectious with COVID-19 spent at least 15 minutes indoors there; there was not universal wearing of face coverings and physical distancing; the location had more than 10 people present who did not all live together; and all people present cannot be identified and contacted.

2. If the health department does not have the contact tracing capacity to contact everyone who was present.

Once the city identifies a place where exposure occurred, it will notify the business and provide them with federal guidelines for sanitizing the space and an “exposure notice” sign, which will have to be posted in a place that’s easy to see.

It will also ask if the business keeps a logbook of guests. Businesses are not required to keep a logbook, but it is encouraged as part of the city’s “phase 3″ reopening guidelines.

If the establishment can give city contact tracers a copy of a logbook and the city can contact everyone who was at the location during the time of exposure, it might not publicly identify the location, according to the city’s statement.

Names of establishments being publicly identified will be published on the city health department’s website, and removed if there are no further cases identified from the location within 10 days of the last known exposure period.

All 19 establishments initially named — mostly Anchorage bars — had been removed from the health department’s list by Thursday afternoon. But later Thursday evening, the city named Eddie’s Sports Bar and the Blue Fox Cocktail Lounge as locations with exposure on July 2.

Eddie’s Sports Bar was also on the initial city list released last week. After the city released the list of establishments, several of the named bars objected, saying that they were singled out. The state’s main hospitality trade association, the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association, also said the city’s actions were “extremely concerning.”

At the time, city officials had not released the full criteria for publishing the names of businesses considered to be exposure points.

Later, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz clarified that the naming of businesses was directly tied to the city’s ability to perform contact tracing. He also emphasized that just because a business was named didn’t mean they did anything wrong, and said that many of the establishments had followed all city guidelines.

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