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March 20, 2020
The Alaska Legislature is working quickly to respond to the hardships caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in Alaska. A core component of the response is to help workers by expanding access to unemployment benefits.
On Thursday, the Alaska House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to help workers unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and response in Alaska. House Bill 308 has been sent to the Alaska State Senate. I will be encouraging my colleagues in the Senate to prioritize passage of this bill so the hard-working men and women of Alaska can get the help they need during this crisis.
HB 308 ensures 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.
The existing unemployment insurance system was not designed to accommodate a global pandemic.
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development is anticipating an increase in the number of people filing for unemployment benefits.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Alaska is 14.
Governor Dunleavy ordered all schools closed through May 1.
New Health Alerts
Health Alert 9.1 – Out of State Travel
That all Alaskans cease non-essential out of state personal, business, and medical travel now. Alaskans currently out of state are encouraged to return home now if they had plans to return to Alaska within the next 30 days.
We strongly advise that any tourist and non-essential business travel to Alaska be suspended now. We strongly recommend that visitors to Alaska return to their home communities now.
Airlines operating interstate travel are mandated to immediately post this recommendation to their customers on their webpages and at the airports in a place that is easily seen.
Airports in Alaska are mandated to prominently post all travel recommendations.
Tour operators should immediately suspend reservations for any out of state visitors.
Businesses that depend on interstate travel should immediately assess their travel needs and only move essential personnel or travel for emergency reasons. Any travelling employee is expected to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival in Alaska.
All travelers returning from a Level 3 area are mandated to self-quarantine for 14 days as previously outlined in COVID-19 Health Mandate 004.
Any returning resident or worker is expected to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning to Alaska and monitor for illness. If you cannot work from home, you should not return to work until this period has passed, unless your work supports critical infrastructure (see Attachment A). If your work is a part of critical infrastructure, it is the expectation that every attempt will be made to comply with the 14-day quarantine or that appropriate steps are taken to protect workers, the public and spread of COVID-19.
Any visitor to Alaska is expected to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in Alaska, monitor for illness, and follow appropriate social distancing protocols while in Alaska.
Health Alert 9.2 – In-State Alaska Travel
That all Alaskans cease any non-essential in-state long distance personal, business, or medical travel, with specific heightened concern for travel to remote areas with limited medical resources.
We strongly recommend that non-residents cease any non-essential personal, business, or medical long-distance travel within Alaska with specific heightened concern for travel to remote areas with limited medical resources.
All air, road and maritime services operating in Alaska are mandated to post on the web and in their terminals, these travel recommendations.
All airports, ports, and bus terminals are mandated to prominently post these travel recommendations.
Any tour operator depending on clients moving long distances across Alaska should strongly consider suspending operations.
We expect any traveler who leaves a community with known cases of COVID-19 to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival to their destination community and monitor for symptoms of illness. Following that period, appropriate social distancing should be followed.
The sacrifice of all Alaskans during this public health emergency is notable. While social distancing is one arm of slowing the spread of COVID-19, minimizing travel is an equally important part of slowing the spread of disease. We are aware of the impact these health advisories have, specifically on our travel industry, already hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The state is committed to continue to work with businesses and employees impacted by the pandemic and will continue to work to mitigate these impacts. The safety and health of all Alaskans is our primary concern.
This health advisory does not apply to medical, personal, or business emergencies.
Preventing and Responding to the COVID-19 Outbreak in Alaska
Governor Dunleavy has ordered all restaurants, bars, breweries, cafes, and entertainment facilities closed until 5 p.m. on April 1.
The State of Alaska has closed all 507 public schools to students through May 1.
The Department of Health and Social Services is closing Alaska’s 6 Pioneer Homes to all visitors, including family.
The University of Alaska is ending in-person instruction.
The cargo carrier Matson issued a statement noting that the company “continues to operate its Alaska service schedule without interruption.
The Alaska Division of Insurance is requiring health insurers to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing, office visits, and trips to the emergency room.
Visit www.muni.org/covid-19 for updated information about the Municipality’s actions regarding COVID-19.
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz issued an emergency “hunker down” order that begins at 10 p.m. Sunday night and will last through March 31.
All municipal employees have been ordered to work from home if they can.
The Municipality of Anchorage is suspending charges to use the People Mover system.
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says utility shutoffs will be suspended for Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility and Municipal Light and Power.
The Anchorage Assembly is encouraging residents to use email or the phone to provide public testimony.
On Friday afternoon, Governor Dunleavy unveiled his proposed Alaska COVID-19 Economic Stabilization Plan.
The plan includes an immediate supplemental dividend of $1,306. ($815 million)
Establishment of the Alaska COVID-19 Emergency Business Loan Program.
$75 million for COVID-19 emergency healthcare enhancements.
The governor said he would issue an executive order preventing evictions for at least 60 days for the 13,000 Alaskans who receive rental assistance through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.
The governor is directing the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to suspend all foreclosures and evictions immediately.
Loan servicers are allowed to grant forbearance to homeowners under financial hardship due to the COVID-19 response.
The Alaska Legislature passed a supplemental budget bill that includes money to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
House Bill 234 includes $612 million in total funding.
The bill includes an additional $33.5 million to address the COVID-19 outbreak and response.
HB 234 details.
Additional supplemental funding had already been approved by the Alaska Legislature and signed by the governor to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
A proposal in the U.S. Senate would send a direct payment of $1,200 to Americans making under $75,000 year. (An additional $500 per child)
It’s estimated that around 18% of American workers have been laid off or had their hours reduced.
So far this week, there have been 4,046 new unemployment insurance claims in Alaska.
The New York Times reports that the COVID-19 crisis is affecting 25% of those who make under $50,000 a year.
The deadline to file U.S. income taxes has been moved to July 15.
President Trump invoked a Korean War-era law that allows the federal government to force private sector industries into service to make medical supplies.
A federal stimulus package has been signed into law to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
I’m here for you, so please keep in touch on matters important to you and your family!
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