Dunleavy says surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations poses “urgent risk”

Through an emergency text message sent Thursday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy warned Alaskans that the state is facing “an escalating crisis” as new COVID cases and hospitalizations surge.

On Saturday, the Department of Health and Social Services announced a record-high 604 new COVID cases. This peak comes after a month of triple-digit new daily case counts. Then on Monday, the state reported there were 103 people hospitalized with COVID – setting another record.

 

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According to tracking from the New York Times, over the past week there has been a 39% increase in case counts compared to the average two weeks earlier along with an 85% increase in hospitalizations.

As it stands now, there have been 20,688 cumulative COVID cases in Alaska, 520 hospitalizations, and 96 deaths. All areas of the state are in the red, high-alert zone, meaning there are 10 or more new cases per 100,000 individuals.

“COVID-19 is rapidly spreading through our communities. Our health care workers, first responders, and service members are being infected at unprecedented rates,” said Dunleavy in his address to Alaskans.

Effective November 16, Dunleavy’s new 30-day COVID disaster declaration will take effect. In the video message, the governor asked state employees to immediately work from home when possible and made mask-wearing and social distancing mandatory at state work sites.

Through the end of the month, Dunleavy also implored Alaskans to continue social distancing and asked businesses, organizations, and local governments that can operate remotely to send employees home as soon as possible.

“I’m asking each and every one of you to reach deep for the next three weeks,” said Dunleavy. “If we can buy time for our critical workers – if we can keep our systems operational – we can avoid being forced to take further action. But if we cannot reduce the spread of this virus, we reduce our future options for how to proceed. No matter what you believe about the virus, the facts are the facts. Hospitalizations and sick health care workers are reaching untenable levels. We must act together now while we still have choices.”