JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s governor Friday suspended classes and other activities at public schools, as well as banned visits to a number of correctional facilities as part of his effort to contain the new coronavirus outbreak.
Mike Dunleavy, working with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, ordered the suspension of classes and after-school activities from March 16 to March 30.
Dunleavy also suspended visits to Department of Corrections facilities, Division of Juvenile Justice facilities, the Alaska Military Youth Academy and the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. The governor limited visitation to Alaska Pioneer Homes, which house the elderly.
Also on Friday night, organizers of the Iditarod sled dog race said they are moving the 19th checkpoint in the 1,000-mile race out of the community of Shaktoolik to help prevent the transmission of the virus.
“The Iditarod continues to utilize best practices and caution regarding COVID-19,” the organizers said in a statemwent.
Also on Friday, Alaska lawmakers announced plans to restrict access to the Capitol in Juneau amid concerns about the new coronavirus.
Access will be limited to lawmakers, legislative employees, members of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration and credentialed journalists. In a release, issued by members of a subcommittee appointed to plan for COVID-19, the steps were described as temporary but necessary for health and safety reasons and to help ensure lawmakers can finalize outstanding work.
Major issues remaining for lawmakers include the budgets and a decision on the size of Alaska Permanent Fund dividend to pay residents.
Committee hearings and floor sessions will be carried online and on TV. Public testimony will be accepted by phone and in writing.
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.
State officials late Thursday announced the first case of the virus in Alaska.
Meanwhile, new jury trials in Anchorage, Kenai and Palmer were suspended for the week starting Monday. Grand jury proceedings in Anchorage and elsewhere will continue as scheduled, according to the state court system.