By Erin Kirkland
Senior Voice 

COVID-19 digest, April 3, 2020


April 1, 2020

Current COVID-19 statistics from State of Alaska

At the time of Thursday’s press briefing, the novel coronavirus had affected 157 Alaskans, with 11 new cases, 15 total hospitalizations, and no new deaths related to the disease. Governor Mike Dunleavy reported that 5,530 tests had been performed statewide, including at a drive-up testing site recently built in Bethel.

Additionally, Alaska currently has 73,000 total masks; 26,000 N95-type masks for frontline medical personnel; and 4,700 gowns. The governor also reiterated a call for the public to donate any forms of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to their local medical centers to support workers.

The State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) website has also updated its COVID-19 page, with easier-to-read data and information for the public.

Alaskans should wear masks while in public, Zink says

Alaska’s chief medical officer is encouraging the state’s residents to wear masks while shopping, exercising or attending medical appointments, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Anne Zink said at Thursday evening’s briefing that masks are one of several strategies Alaskans can implement to reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“We’re encouraging people — if you’re going out in public, like the grocery store — to consider wearing a tightly-woven homemade mask to minimize the spread in case you are asymptomatic, or early-symptomatic,” she said.

While Zink went on to discourage the use of N95 masks designed and designated for frontline medical professionals, she did validate the many styles of homemade masks making the rounds on social media. The key, she said, is the tight-weave of the fabric, and that it covers the nose and mouth completely.

Many local sewing and quilting groups have shifted from personal projects to the mask-making effort, and are donating masks to hospitals, EMS stations and other locations serving high-risk or vulnerable populations.

State’s largest rural air carrier shrinks service in wake of coronavirus

The Ravn Air Group drastically slashed its service by 90 percent on Thursday amid a deep decline in ticket sales, the company said.

“These are extremely difficult decisions that are essential for our ability to weather this crisis and successfully recover in the future,” Ravn’s chief executive, Dave Pflieger, wrote in a letter to company employees.

As Alaska’s largest rural air service provider, RavnAlaska had served 115 Alaska communities stretching from Homer and the Aleutian Islands to to North Slope. The RavnAir Group, operating three federally-certified companies, had operated 70 planes, but now, company officials said, will only fly three. The move could leave dozens of small Alaska villages with no scheduled air service for people, goods and mail, and provide no other link to road systems.

At a press briefing on Thursday night, Governor Mike Dunleavy stated he was “in discussions with other air carriers” to mitigate the situation for rural Alaskans.

For more information, including refund policies, visit the RavnAir website:


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