JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Wednesday declared a public health disaster emergency in response to concerns about the new coronavirus.
Dunleavy said the declaration would allow the administration to react more quickly with procurement and other areas. It allows the governor to direct distribution of supplies and make provisions for use of temporary emergency housing, if needed, among other things. The declaration came as state health Commissioner Adam Crum found an outbreak of COVID-19 has a “high probability of occurring in the near future.”
The World Health Organization has declared the worldwide outbreak of the new coronavirus a pandemic.
State officials have not confirmed any cases in Alaska.
The Legislature on Wednesday approved Dunleavy’s request for about $4.1 million in state funds and authority to receive $9 million in federal funds to respond to the virus. Senators said additional funding could be needed later.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 61,000 have so far recovered.
In 2017, then-Gov. Bill Walker declared a public health disaster emergency in Alaska in response to opioids.