City manager cautions against loosening restrictions after COVID-19 cases peak

As of Thursday, Alaska has 235 cases of COVID-19, up nine cases from the day before. More than 7,000 COVID-19 tests have been performed statewide. Of those, 61 tests have been taken in Kodiak, with another 13 pending. By Thursday, the island received rapid testing kits, which are expected to reduce the amount of time for testing from days to minutes.

So far, across the island and including the Coast Guard base, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 for Kodiak.

In an emergency services council update on Thursday, city manager Mike Tvenge said, by some estimates Alaska may peak in its number of COVID-19 cases later this month, but that doesn’t mean travel restrictions or social distancing measures should start loosening up.

“I’ll emphasize that the peak in cases in Alaska could occur around April 17 through the 21st. So don’t cling to that, but hopefully we’ll we’re going to slow this virus down in our state and, and we’ll reach a peak,” he said. “Now that doesn’t mean we’re going to open up the doors and everybody’s going to go running outside to their favorite haunts. But we’ll be following that very closely with the state and the state medical officer.”

Tvenge also announced a new city-wide precaution — closing all playground equipment for use.

“The playgrounds are open, however, the equipment is closed,” he said. “So the playground equipments basically off limits, we’ll be marking those off. So respect that. The reason we’re doing that is to avoid any potential transfer of the virus.”

Additionally, per state guidelines, Tvenge says they recommend all residents wear masks while in public. The emergency operations center is organizing 2000 homemade masks to be made available to the public, with pickup points to be announced soon.

As far as treatment preparations go, Providence has set up a triage tent outside the hospital to for initial symptom assessments. The tent will allow staff to limit the exposure of community members and those inside the hospital to any potential coronavirus threat. A secondary care site has been set up at North Star Elementary School for COVID-19 cases that may require fluids and oxygen, but not critical care.

Tvenge also reminds Kodiak residents returning to town that they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The airport, which is owned by the state of Alaska, remains open to facilitate freight and mail delivery, medical transfers and essential travel.

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