Doctors across Alaska call on Dunleavy to implement shelter-in-place, enforced travel ban

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - 168 doctors across the State of Alaska are calling on Gov. Mike Dunleavy to strengthen restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Two similar letters — one signed by doctors across the state and another by doctors in Fairbanks — call on the governor to implement a shelter-in-place order and an enforced travel ban.

“We appreciate the steps that you have already taken to restrict travel and encourage Alaskans to stay home, but it is becoming clear that the voluntary restrictions on travel and social distancing are proving inadequate. Many Alaskans have not adopted these necessary measures and continue to move around our community and state without regard for the consequences,” Fairbanks doctors wrote.

The letter sent Saturday was signed by 119 doctors from doctors across the state, while the letter sent Sunday includes the signatures of 49 Fairbanks-area doctors.

Gov. Dunleavy’s press secretary Jeff Turner acknowledged the letters and shared a statement from Chief Medical Offficer Anne Zink in reply to the Fairbanks physicians, which Turner says applies to the medical community across the state.

“We appreciate and understand the concern of these physicians from Fairbanks,” Zink said in the statement. “Next steps are constantly evaluated and discussed several times a day. What all Alaskans need to do right now is make sure they are washing their hands, properly covering their coughs or sneezes, practicing social distancing and staying home when they are sick. These steps will help everyone stay healthy. Every Alaskan who makes these changes helps mitigate the spread of this virus across our state, which could save the lives of our fellow Alaskans.”

In a separate letter sent Monday, local governments and tribes also called on the governor to strengthen restrictions by closing non-essential businesses and issuing a "strong urgency to Interior residents to stay home."

Signatories to Monday's letter include the City of Fairbanks, City of North Pole, Fairbanks North Slope Borough, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Tanana Valley Clinic, Fairbanks Native Association and Interior Community Health Center.

Monday's letter also states that those entities should be prepared to heighten the mandate to limit the hours of essential services and businesses.

Turner said that the governor is planning a press conference Monday late afternoon and is expected to address the concerns raised by Alaskan physicians.

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