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Anchorage Assembly to consider extension of COVID-19 emergency declaration at Monday meeting

  • Author: Aubrey Wieber
  • Updated: November 16, 2020
  • Published November 16, 2020

The Anchorage Assembly is considering extending the mayor’s pandemic emergency declaration period before it expires Nov. 30.

The first step is holding a public hearing, which will begin at 6 p.m. Monday. Assembly Acting Chair Felix Rivera said the Assembly will likely vote at the conclusion of the public hearing, though with high interest it could extend past Monday.

The Assembly currently has two options to pick from, one put forth by Rivera that would extend the declaration to Dec. 31. Another, introduced by Rivera at the request of Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson, would extend it through Jan. 15.

Rivera said he prefers the longer extension, and said he thinks that is likely the one the Assembly will take up.

The extension deadline comes as COVID-19 cases are at an all-time high in Anchorage and Alaska, with frequent record-breaking single-day case counts. On Saturday, the state reported 745 cases and on Sunday there were 654 cases.

Alaskans are getting COVID-19 just about everywhere they mix with others, and the city is now requesting people get tested regardless of symptoms.

The emergency declaration was first imposed on March 12 and allows the mayor to do things like mandate masks in public, limit gathering sizes and shut down businesses. It also allows the city to quickly move money around to respond to the surging pandemic, such as by funding more contact tracing or testing.

Some of the actions taken under the emergency declaration, especially the orders shutting down or limiting service at businesses, have led to protests at other Assembly meetings this year.

A previous resolution passed by the Assembly requires it to hold a public hearing two weeks before the expiration of the emergency declaration to allow the public to weigh in.

If the Monday meeting runs until midnight, it will be continued, likely to Wednesday as the Assembly has a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.