Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz orders municipality residents to hunker down

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has announced an "emergency hunker-down order," as stated in a press conference Friday evening, to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The order goes into effect on Sunday at 10 p.m. and will last until March 31.

"What this does is say, stay at home as much as possible," Berkowitz said. "If you need to go get groceries, go get groceries, but don't linger. If you want to go outside, and go skiing or running or walking, go do that, but practice social distancing."

The order says that residents can leave their homes for critical jobs, food, health care and to recreate outside. Any businesses or entities within the municipality that are not considered critical must close brick and mortar locations, but can still utilize telecommunications and other work-from-home procedures to operate their businesses.

"These orders are difficult," Berkowitz said. "These are personal freedoms we're dealing with. But I also believe we have a personal responsibility to try and protect each other. This is one of these times where decisive action is required."

While this is an unusual circumstance, it's easy to see catastrophic consequences, Berkowitz said, and Alaskans have to take every precaution to prevent those from happening in our communities.

"If we can't take care of ourselves, there's nobody else coming," Berkowitz said, "because everyone is contending with this. This order is about making sure medical resources are taken care of and people in Alaska and people in Anchorage are as protected as we can be."

Berkowitz encouraged people not to be selfish, which, he said, includes not potentially exposing other people to the disease.

"It doesn't mean you can't have social interaction," he said, "but practice social distancing, wash your hands. This is a real situation, and we are in a position where we have seen what has occurred, but we know what works in terms of limiting the spread of this disease."

As of press time, 14 cases of the new coronavirus had been confirmed in Alaska. Four of those cases are in Anchorage, the Department of Health and Social Services, and all four of those are said to be travel-related.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you wash your hands with soap and water often; avoid touching your nose, face and mouth; use sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol; and avoid people who are sick to help protect yourself. To protect others, stay home if you are sick, cover coughs and sneezes, clean and disinfect surfaces, and remember that you could be asymptomatic but still carrying the virus.

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