March 18, 2020
  • Legislative Response to COVID-19
  • HB 308: Unemployment Insurance for COVID-19
  • HB 29: Insurance Coverage for Telehealth Signed into Law
  • COVID-19 in Alaska
  • Online with Ivy - Facebook Live Event 10 am, this Saturday, March 21st
Legislative Response to COVID-19
HB 308: Unemployment Benefits for COVID-19 Response
Today, as chair of House Labor & Commerce, I introduced HB 308 to ensure Alaskan employees receive unemployment benefits whether they are furloughed, laid-off, lose work hours, or are forced to stay home to care for children or other loved ones as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
We must act swiftly to make sure Alaskan families can pay for groceries, rent, mortgages, and other essentials. 8% of Alaskan workers have essentially been laid-off as a result of restaurant and public space closures, and they don’t know when they’re coming back to work.
It's essential that we cut red tape and ensure Alaskans who have paid into Unemployment Insurance can receive benefits during this time of unprecedented economic and public health crisis.
The Unemployment Insurance system wasn't designed for a global pandemic that is shutting down schools, businesses, and child care simultaneously across Alaska. This legislation provides emergency relief during the COVID-19 crisis so that workers facing an array of economic challenges can recoup some lost wages.
  • increases the weekly per-dependent benefit from $25 to $75 to relieve families who have lost child care and income at the same time,
  • waives the standard one week waiting requirement to begin receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits, an
  • is designed to provide emergency relief for up to one year.
HB 308 has been referred to the Rules Committee for a floor within the next 24 hours.
An amendment will be introduced on the House floor tomorrow to allow people who are still technically employed to receive benefits.
HB 29: Insurance Coverage for Telehealth
Signed into Law, Effective Immediately
As part of our state's response to COVID-19, this week the Governor signed HB 29: Insurance Coverage for Telehealth into law. Alaska has been at the forefront of providing health care via telehealth for those cared covered by Medicaid and the Tribal health system.
HB 29 ensures the 15% of Alaskans--about 109,000 of us---who are covered by private plans have access to telehealth too. The bill is effective immediately because telehealth is a critical tool for responding to COVID-19 and ensuring that Alaskans continue to access necessary health care while minimizing possible exposure to the coronavirus.
COVID-19 in Alaska
As of March 18, 2020, 6 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Alaska. 432 people have been tested for coronavirus in Alaska so far.
You can get the latest information on the number of tests and cases in Alaska at the State of Alaska's Dept. of Health & Social Services website.
Protecting Yourself and Others
We now have 6 cases of COVID-19 in Alaska. That means we all need to continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene. There are new resources for Alaskans including a drive-through testing facility and larger number of COVID-19 tests available. I will send out another email soon with a list of resources for Alaskans to use.
In the meantime, if you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share any recent travel history with your health care provider. If you don't have a provider to call, you can call 1-800-478-2221 or email then at Alaska211@ak.org.
Take the following steps to stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Maintain social distancing. Maintain at least 6 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Your hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose, or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues immediately.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
More Information
Join Me Online!
Saturday, March 21st, 10 am - 11 am
These are trying times, and things are evolving rapidly. Let's take a minute to talk about what's happening and what we're doing about it.
I look forward to connecting with you via Facebook Live on Saturday, March 21st, 10-11 AM.
As always, keep in touch!
Phone Number: (907) 465-4940