FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Interior Alaskan leaders have come together to form a unified command and have requested Governor Mike Dunleavy issue a mandate closing all non-essential businesses for interior Alaska.
“The unified command structure is part of the incident command structure that is used for disaster management,” Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward said. According to him, the unified command structure will function to communicate the needs of the interior.
"This kind of unified command is really the way in which we're going to move forward with consistent communication with the public as well as consistent communication with the State of Alaska," Ward said, "So that we're able to identify the need within the community, identify the resources that are needed to tackle that need and then share that message up the chain of command to the State of Alaska."
The group is spearheaded by Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and the Tanana Chiefs Conference, and counts the cities of Fairbanks and North Pole, as well as the borough, among its membership. It also includes the Fairbanks Native Association and the Interior Community Health Center.
The command’s request came in the form of a letter to Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum, but addressed both Crum and Governor Dunleavy. “We are extremely sympathetic to businesses during this time,” the letter says. It goes on. “However, studies indicate that if we do not ‘flatten the curve’ the virus will spread exponentially straining Fairbanks’ medical and community infrastructure resources and cause unnecessary deaths to Interior residents.”
“We thank the community for stepping up on social distancing,” said Shelley Ebenal, Chief Executive Officer for Foundation Health Partners, the group in charge of Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, over video conference. “But we need more of it, particularly right now.”
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