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March 13, 2020
The Coronavirus Update
It is clear the coronavirus poses a significant public safety threat to the people of Alaska. Thursday Alaska had the first confirmed case of COVID-19. The infected person arrived in Anchorage on March 11 on a cargo flight from overseas. Suspecting he was infected, he wore a dust mask preventing others from catching it, left the airport, and went straight to Alaska Regional Hospital. He is now in stable condition and is being quarantined.
This is an excellent example of how awareness and knowing what to do will help slow down the spread of the virus. The COVID-19 virus is obviously dangerous, and precautions should be taken to prevent its spread and keep people healthy. Unfortunately, I am hearing reports of panicked Alaskans who are acting irrationally by hoarding food and other supplies that might be needed by others.
Customers lined up Friday morning to get into the Costco store on Dimond Boulevard in Anchorage.
We Are All in This Together
Neighbors, we need to work together and look out for one another. We can make it through this pandemic. You don’t need every roll of toilet paper in the store. Instead, check on your neighbor to make sure they are okay. It’s times like these that we must cherish and protect the people that bring comfort and meaning to our lives. It’s okay to be cautious, but living in fear is not healthy.
It will take all of us to help flatten the curve to prevent additional cases within our community. The ultimate goal is to continue our normal day-to-day lives as much as possible.
This evening Governor Dunleavy took decisive action to protect Alaska’s students by ordering all schools in Alaska to close through March 30. While this is a drastic move, I agree that it is necessary to ensure the safety of our children and young adults. The more we do now to prevent the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus, the better.
In Anchorage, it is recommended to avoid areas where large crowds may gather. Municipal facilities that will be closed until further notice include:
Because there is a lot of misinformation swirling around about coronavirus, it is important to get accurate and timely information.
Alaska 211 is a free, local resource. Healthcare professionals are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, though they are closed noon to 1 p.m. for lunch. Professionals are available to speak with members of the community and answer any questions they have.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has created a great website that includes up to date information about the COVID-19 virus and the response efforts in Alaska. The site is coronavirus.alaska.gov.
These are exceptional times. Thank you in advance as we work together on the challenges that the COVID-19 virus presents.
Protecting Our Seniors and Elders
On Friday, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services issued a new policy intended to protect those living in long-term care facilities from the coronavirus. The policy calls for facilities to implement a screening process for all visitors and to limit visitation to only essential individuals. The policy also calls for the screening of all visitors for illness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising those who work in long-term care facilities to know the signs and symptoms of the COVID-19 virus and to clean frequently touched surfaces daily. The CDC is encouraging these facilities to reduce large gatherings and to alter schedules to minimize mixing.
Common symptoms of the coronavirus include mild to severe respiratory illness with a fever, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. State and federal officials all agree that the best way to avoid becoming infected is to wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds and to keep your hands away from your face and mouth. Everyone is being encouraged to limit public outings, large gatherings, and close contact with others. The most important recommendation is to stay at home if you are sick. While this may be a hardship for some, it’s an essential component in our shared struggle to keep everyone safe and healthy.
The Alaska Reads Act
One of the bright spots of the legislative session in Juneau is the momentum behind an important piece of education policy that I believe will improve student performance in Alaska. The “Alaska Reads Act” seeks to improve the reading skills of students in kindergarten through third grade by creating a new comprehensive statewide reading program and includes a voluntary universal pre-kindergarten program.
The more I learn about this bill, the more I like it. It goes along with the concept of learning to read helps reading to learn. The data clearly demonstrates that students who are proficient in reading by the third grade do better throughout their academic careers.
On Saturday, the House Education Committee, which I am a member of, will be taking public testimony on House Bill 153, the Alaska Reads Act. Saturday’s hearing begins at 1:00 p.m. and is your chance to support this critical legislation that will improve reading outcomes in Alaska.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the committee is not taking in-person public testimony. However, public testimony will be taken through the Alaska State Legislature’s teleconferencing system. If you are in Anchorage, the number to call to offer public testimony is (907) 563-9085. For those outside of Anchorage, the toll-free number to call is 1-844-568-9085.
I’m here for you, so please keep in touch on matters important to you and your family!
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