Mayor Vern Halter extends pandemic closures through end of April

By  | 

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - At a late-morning press conference Wednesday about how officials and hospitals are handling the COVID-19 pandemic, Vern Halter, Mayor of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, announced pandemic-related local mandates will be extended through the end of April to mirror state mandates.

The press conference mainly focused on the borough's work to expand its capacity to manage an influx of COVID-19 patients.
Dave Wallace, CEO of the Mat-Su Regionally Medical Center, said several patient rooms have been turned into negative pressure rooms, including turning a 4-vehicle ambulance bay into a treatment area.

To date, Mat-Su has few patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Wallace was unable to attribute the low numbers to a specific intervention or to the possibility of bad tests. "They just keeping back negative, and we are thankful for that," he said. "I have no concerns that the tests have been inaccurate."

Ken Barkley with the Division of Emergency Services said front-line first responders are arriving at scenes wearing personal protective gear, and that tests for first responders for COVID-19 will be fast-tracked. Pulling personnel out of rotation for self-quarantine while waiting for results has strained resources, Barkley said.

Barkley also announced the availability of four test-sites: Mat-Su Regional Hospital, Capstone, Urgent Care at Lake Lucille, and Mat-Su Regional Urgent Care.

Elizabeth Ripley, CEO of Mat-Su Health Foundation, expressed heightened concern for vulnerable community members. Cases of child maltreatment and domestic violence linked to pandemic-related stressors are on the rise, Ripley said. The borough's women's shelter for victims of domestic violence is full and has had to find additional shelter options, she said.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.