Alaska schools closed through May 1, business limitations imposed on Fairbanks, Ketchikan areas


ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Alaska's schools will be closed at least through May 1, Gov. Mike Dunleavy's administration announced Friday evening.

Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said students would be educated through distance delivery of lessons. All after-school activities are suspended during that time.

Crum also announced major business mandates in the Fairbanks and Ketchikan areas, where two new positive cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, have been identified Friday.

The total number of positive cases in the state of Alaska is now 14.

One of the new cases was identified in Ketchikan, and the state's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anne Zink, said that case was travel-related. The second new case was identified in Fairbanks, and its origin was not yet known, Zink said. Zink said the new Fairbanks patient did not have close contact with either of the other confirmed cases, but that the history and contact of all patients is still being investigated to see if they crossed paths.

Fairbanks now has a total of 6 cases, and Ketchikan has 3.

All business congregations or gatherings where individuals are six feet from each other, must cease in the Fairbanks North Star and Ketchikan boroughs, Crum announced. The mandate is effective March 21, at 8 a.m. The mandate applies to businesses like hair salons, day spas and esthetic locations, nail salons, barber shops, tattoo shops, body piercing locations, massage therapy locations, tanning facilities.

In those boroughs, no gatherings of more than 10 people may take place, and if they do, people must be more than 6 feet apart from each other.

Earlier in the day, the Department of Health and Social Services had issued"> a "strong advisory" discouraging non-essential out of state, and in-state long-distance travel.

That advisory came on the heels of Dunleavy's economic plan announced earlier in the day Friday. He called for the Legislature to immediately distribute the remaining moneys that could have been distributed with the 2019 Permanent Fund Dividend, and offered small business bridge loans. He also established a $1 billion fund for disaster relief.

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