Governor Dunleavy announces Alaska’s first death due to coronavirus

Both Governor Dunleavy and Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska's Chief Medical Officer, emphasized the importance of social distancing in order to avoid spreading the virus, and to reduce the potential strain on Alaska’s medical system.

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Alaska has experienced its first COVID-19 related death.

During a daily press briefing, Governor Mike Dunleavy announced the death as well as 6 new confirmed cases in Alaska, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 42.

Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, said that the deceased had contracted the virus and died outside of Alaska, but that they were an Alaskan resident. “This is about people; this is about Alaskans; this is about individuals,” she said, calling on viewers to remember the deceased, and mentioning another Alaskan who is “hospitalized and quite ill”.

Dunleavy additionally stressed the need for Alaska’s healthcare industry to become more independent. He referenced Alaskan businesses which have been pivoting in order to assist with the pandemic. “Alaska’s not known as a manufacturing hub, but we do have a number of companies that actually make things in Alaska,” he said. “And they are rising to the call to come and help.” Dunleavy also mentioned that the state is in the process of manufacturing its own personal protective equipment (PPE).

The governor also said that Alaska has done “pretty good” in comparison to other states, but that it could do better. Both he and Dr. Zink emphasized the importance of social distancing in order to avoid spreading the virus, and to reduce the potential strain on Alaska’s medical system.

“We’ve tried to mandate it all and put everything else out there,” Zink said, referring to the State’s effort to cease businesses which involve close contact, such as salons and spas. “Everyone has an exception for it. I feel like I’ve spent all day dealing with people’s exceptions, and the reality is this virus doesn’t care what your exception is, this virus is going to infect you if you don’t slow things down and you don’t move apart from each other.”

“So please just for two weeks stop what you’re doing: stay away from each other.”

Speaking to members of critical infrastructure in the state, Zink emphasized that they have an increased responsibility to protect that infrastructure so that it may continue to function.

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