Anchorage

Anchorage acting mayor ends COVID-19 emergency declaration

Anchorage’s 14-month long COVID-19 pandemic emergency declaration has ended.

At an Anchorage Assembly meeting on Tuesday evening, Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson announced that she issued a proclamation ending the declaration that day, citing a recent drop in COVID-19 cases and widely available vaccines.

She also said the city no longer needs to rely on the flexibilities provided by an emergency declaration for its COVID-19 response.

“We’re able to end the emergency today for two reasons: an improved public health situation and a reduced need for the administrative flexibility granted under local emergency declaration,” Quinn-Davidson said. “Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen a significant drop in COVID-19 cases,” she said.

Anchorage’s 14-day average of new cases just above five cases per 100,000 people, dropping from more than 10 per 100,000 two weeks ago, she said. The city has now reached the state’s intermediate risk category, down from its high-risk category for the first time since last summer, she said.

The city’s emergency declaration was first issued on March 12, 2020 by then-Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. It was later extended eight different times by the Assembly.

The emergency declaration allowed the mayor to issue emergency orders in response to the public health crisis. Anchorage saw wide-ranging orders in instituting health precautions throughout the city, including the city’s previous mask mandate and limits on gathering sizes, and various restrictions and temporary shutdowns of businesses.

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It also allowed the city to be flexible with its resources and manpower. It bolstered its Emergency Operations Center to focus on mitigating the pandemic, and took actions such as acquiring personal protective equipment early in the pandemic, making COVID-19 testing available across the city and distributing vaccinations.

“To step down the Emergency Operations Center does not mean that COVID-19 is over or that we will stop our work to mitigate it,” Quinn-Davidson said. “We are transitioning out of a formal emergency response, but our work doesn’t stop there.”

She said the city will identify existing departments to continue in its critical responses to COVID-19, including monitoring data, vaccinations and testing.

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