Alaska Governor Says Jump in Virus Cases Not Cause for Panic | Alaska News

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By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Alaska‘s largest single-day increase in confirmed coronavirus cases is manageable given the state’s health care capacity.

“We are not panicked,” he said Sunday, after officials reported 27 additional residents had tested positive for COVID-19.

The state has allowed businesses to reopen after closures to try to slow the spread of the virus, with guidance that encourages face coverings, extra cleaning and the ability for people to practice social distancing.

The state has called on organizers of large events to adopt similar protocols.

Many of the cases reported Sunday were tied to a nursing rehabilitation center in Anchorage. When a resident at Providence Transitional Care Center tested positive Friday, the facility began testing all residents and caregivers, Dr. Michael Bernstein, chief medical officer of Providence Health and Services Alaska, said in a statement.

Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said there appeared to be community spread in the Matanuska-Susitna, Anchorage and Kenai regions. “At least some of the cases” appear linked to “some clusters relating to some large celebrations,” Zink said, without specifying the events.

“We always knew that open never meant over,” she said, urging people to keep using masks in public and maintaining distance from non-household members.

Dunleavy has repeatedly encouraged Alaskans to take precautions, including avoiding unnecessary contact with others. But last week, he attended an outdoor Memorial Day event, where he shook hands and posed for pictures without a face covering. Others in the photos on his social media accounts also weren’t wearing masks.

A message seeking comment from Dunleavy’s press office wasn’t immediately returned Monday.

The state said more than 800 hospital beds were available Monday and announced seven new COVID-19 cases among residents. That brings the total to 467, with 10 deaths. There also have been 21 cases involving non-residents, many of them tied to the seafood industry.

The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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