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Gov. Dunleavy tests positive for COVID-19, reports mild symptoms

  • Author: James Brooks
  • Updated: February 25
  • Published February 24

Gov. Mike Dunleavy delivers his 2021 State of the State address from his office in Anchorage on Jan. 28, 2021. (Screengrab from video made available by Gov. Dunleavy's office)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has tested positive for COVID-19 and has mild symptoms, his office said Wednesday.

Dunleavy’s office previously said he had come in close contact with a COVID-positive person on Saturday and would quarantine at home as a precaution.

“Because the governor has been in quarantine during his infectious period, there are no known close contacts at this time,” the governor’s office said in a statement Wednesday.

Dunleavy tested negative for COVID on Sunday but began feeling unwell Tuesday night, his office said. He took another test Wednesday morning and it was positive, his office said.

A spokesman for the governor deferred questions to the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink.

Zink said the governor’s personal physician is handling his treatment and that she was unwilling to say who that person is. She was unable to speak about the governor’s precise symptoms or any treatment he is receiving.

“People who have mild COVID tend to have cough, congestion, headache, don’t feel well, fevers, things like that,” she said, speaking not about the governor’s case in particular.

“He’s been very clear that he wants to be treated like any Alaskan,” she said.

Dunleavy attended the annual Alaska Outdoor Council banquet in person Saturday in Palmer. The organization’s executive director, Caleb Martin, said he contacted the governor’s office and was told that the close contact did not take place during the event. He said he is unaware of anyone contracting COVID-19 because of their attendance.

Six state legislators and Anchorage mayoral candidate Bill Evans also attended the event, according to messages posted on social media. Pictures showed many attendees without masks.

State public health officials continue to recommend that Alaskans avoid indoor gatherings with non-household members, avoid crowds, wear masks when around non-household members and stay 6 feet away from anyone not in their household.

The Matanuska-Susitna region has the state’s highest average daily case rate, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

Alaska’s number of COVID-19 cases has been falling, but a rare case of a highly contagious variant of COVID-19 originally detected in Brazil was identified in the state this month.

Dunleavy, at 59 years old, has not yet had a COVID-19 vaccination. (He turns 60 on May 5.) Asked about his vaccination status on Monday, a spokesman for the governor said he would get the vaccine when his turn arrives.

“Currently, critical infrastructure 50 and older who work in close contact with, so are regularly exposed to other people, are the group that is open right now. His job does not require him to have to be in close contact with people as of right now,” Zink said Monday when asked whether the governor was eligible to be vaccinated.

Zink said Wednesday that applies to the state’s vaccine allocation; the governor might be eligible under Indian Health Service vaccine allocations. She said she was unaware that the governor had surgery in 2017 to correct a mild heart condition. Some prior medical conditions make people eligible for earlier vaccinations.

More than one in four Alaska adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot, according to figures from the state health department.

Reporter Annie Berman contributed to this article from Anchorage.

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