Acting Mayor Quinn-Davidson Orders Modified Hunker Down in Anchorage Starting December 1
Unfortunately, less restrictive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been ineffective, so acting Anchorage Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson has signed a modified hunker down order, Emergency Order 16 (EO-16), which will take effect December 1 at 8 a.m. and remain in effect until January 1 at 8 a.m.
EO-16 requires Anchorage residents to return to hunker down behaviors and restricts the operations of various organizations. For December:
- Individuals must limit outings and physical contact to those within their household.
- Individuals likely to be contagious with COVID-19 must quarantine or isolate.
- Indoor gatherings are limited to six people and outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. There are some exceptions, defined in the emergency order, for drive-in events, classrooms, and political and religious gatherings.
- Bars and restaurants are closed except for take-out, delivery, or outdoor service.
- Indoor gyms are limited to 25 percent capacity.
- Organized sports are closed to indoor competitions.
- Bingo halls, theaters, private clubs, and other entertainment facilities are closed.
- Salons and personal care service providers are limited to 25 percent capacity and cannot provide services that require the removal of a mask.
- All retail and other public-facing businesses are limited to 25 percent building occupancy and must maintain physical distancing.
- Employers must require employees to work from home when remote work does not significantly impede business operations.
“This is not an easy decision. I have been working for weeks with our community partners to find alternatives to issuing this type of emergency order. But I must protect our community, and that requires issuance of this EO,” said Acting Mayor Quinn-Davidson during a live update to the community. “The current trajectory is not sustainable, however, hope is on the horizon— a vaccine is near—but we need to work together until that day to protect the health and safety of our community.”
According to Heather Harris, director of the Anchorage Health Department, “The Anchorage health department has been waiving red flags for weeks as we’ve experience record breaking case counts.”
She provided the following data, updated as of November 25, during the update:
- There are 15,100 confirmed cases in the Municipality of Anchorage
- 2,115 of those are from the last week, which is 14 percent of total cases since the beginning of the pandemic
- There have been, to date, 66 deaths
- The 14-day case rate average is 112.7 per 100,000 people
- The COVID-19 reproductive number in Anchorage is 1.15
- The testing positivity rate is 9.64.
“Our public health capacity has also been taxed for weeks, as we are no longer able to trace transmission in the community,” Harris said. “This is evident by the fact that many positive cases are not being contacted during their infectious period, and we’re asking all positive cases to self-trace and notify their close contacts.”
She also acknowledged the well-known but generally undocumented effect that COVID-19 is having on the mental health of the community. “We have all gone through and are continuing to experience incredible stress and trauma as we do our best to survive the biggest disaster we will likely see in our lifetime.
“This can leave us exhausted, overwhelmed, and scared, and we recognize that those feelings are normal and expect them to come and go. Please reach out for support when you need it and please be kind to yourself and others.”
What We’re Avoiding
Dr. Tom Hennesy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the UAA College of Health, provided projections for the spread of COVID-19 based on the current Anchorage R factor, an R factor of 1.2, and an R factor of 1.3.
Projections from Dr. Tom Hennesy about three possible scenarios for the spread of COVID-19. The y-axis represents the number of individuals infected with COVID-19 per day in each scenario.
He said, “If it increased 13 percent to an R factor of 1.3, the situation would look even worse, where at its peak in mid-January we would see 1,200 new cases per day in Anchorage alone, 200 persons in the hospital, and 70 in the ICU units with COVID-19.”
He continued, “These estimates are not far-fetched. We have seen our levels of 1.2 and 1.3 sustained at other points in the epidemic last summer. The difference is now that we have so many more cases that this rate would lead to many more cases and many more hospitalizations.
“In many ways these estimates are conservative,” he said. “They don’t account for hospitalizations that would come to Anchorage from other parts of Alaska and they don’t account for the two- to three-day backlog that we have currently in getting cases counted and registered into our daily case numbers.
“Transmission levels at this rate would be a healthcare crisis for Anchorage and for Alaska overall…. We must reduce the spread of COVID-19 to avoid a healthcare crisis.”
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