Anchorage

Public testimony on proposed Anchorage mask mandate will continue Tuesday

Assembly

A fourth night of public testimony continued Monday evening during an Anchorage Assembly meeting on a proposed mask ordinance.

It would require people in Anchorage to wear masks in indoor public spaces and at crowded, outdoor public events to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during the state’s worst virus surge so far.

The Assembly did not vote on the ordinance on Monday and instead will continue the public testimony at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The Assembly also set a special meeting for Thursday “if needed” — in case the Assembly does not finish its agenda on Tuesday.

Alaska on Monday reported its second-highest tally of COVID-positive hospital patients since the start of the pandemic as many health care facilities struggle with short staffing, limited resources and an influx of patients. Twenty health care facilities across the state, including the three major hospitals in Anchorage, have crisis standards of care activated, though the situation varies widely from place to place and from day to day.

The proposed ordinance has drawn sharply divided testimony from Anchorage residents.

[Alaska reports 2nd highest COVID-19 hospitalizations tally as hospitals contend with a shifting situation]

After last week’s three tumultuous meetings on the ordinance were marked by insults, outbursts, arrests — and national outrage after Mayor Dave Bronson initially defended the use of Holocaust imagery to express mask opposition — the first few hours of Monday night’s testimony were more subdued.

Bronson, who opposes the mask ordinance and COVID-19 mandates more generally, later addressed his remarks at Thursday’s meeting, saying he apologized “for any perception that my statements support or compare what happened to the Jewish people in Nazi Germany,” and that “I should have chosen my words more carefully.”

The meetings have been prolonged by many people showing up to speak and Assembly members asking questions of the people testifying. Assembly member Jamie Allard, a staunch opponent of the proposed mask ordinance, has asked questions of many who have testified. Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance said it’s likely that public testimony on the mask ordinance will continue into the coming days.

[COVID-19 in Alaska: Fact-checking public officials’ claims about case trends, death rates, masks and ivermectin]

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. She earned her degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. Contact her at egoodykoontz@adn.com.

Sponsored