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Gov. Dunleavy suspends town hall meetings, citing coronavirus

JUNEAU — Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Monday suspended a series of town hall meetings scheduled for the Kenai Peninsula this week.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at the Iditarod musher banquet on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

In a written statement, the governor’s office cited the need to “remain closely connected to federal and local partners while monitoring the rapidly-evolving information in regard to the novel coronavirus.”

The governor’s office had scheduled meetings on Monday in Kenai, Tuesday in Seward and Wednesday in Homer. The events were part of the governor’s “Conversations with Alaskans” series, intended to be a discussion about the state’s budget and fiscal situation.

In a news conference Monday morning, the governor and state officials said Alaska has no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, which causes flu-like symptoms in most cases but in severe instances can be fatal.

Twenty-three Alaskans have tested negative for the virus, and another nine tests are underway, according to a state count updated Monday afternoon.

With no known cases in the state, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is not recommending that Alaskans cancel mass gatherings.

Monday’s announcement means the governor has canceled or suspended five of six scheduled events. Town hall meetings in Petersburg and Wrangell were canceled because of bad weather in February.

The only event that took place as planned was in Chugiak, where the governor spoke with a generally supportive crowd earlier this month.

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