Summer Air Travel Expected to Increase

Passengers are dropped off at the Fairbanks International Airport Tuesday afternoon, April 2, 2019. Air travel at the airport is expected to be up sharply this summer.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy is revising a state mandate that requires a 14-day self-quarantine for visitors and residents following air travel from out of state.

The original mandate was set to expire Tuesday, June 2. The expiration has now been pushed to Friday, June 5.

After that, visitors will need to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of traveling to the state. Visitors will be required to bring test result paperwork with them to provide to health officials and will need to fill out a short form upon arrival, which Dunleavy likened to an agriculture declaration form for travelers to Hawaii.

If a visitor cannot produce test result paperwork or there is "some kind of glitch," visitors will be tested by state Department of Health and Social Services contractors in the airport terminal upon arrival, but the governor noted this is not an optimal situation.

"We're going to strongly, strongly encourage folks to take a test before they get here," he said, explaining it will be more of an "inconvenience" for the travelers to take a test at the airport terminal.

"If we don't have the testing available for some reason at the moment, you're going to end up staying in the terminal quite a long time or going into quarantine," Dunleavy said.

If the test is negative, visitors will be free to continue their trip. If the test is positive, the state will work on an individual basis to set up isolation and quarantine plans for the traveler.

Airlines that fly into Alaska have been informed of the mandate and are aware of the changes, Dunleavy said.

More details will be available next week, he added.

The health department reported five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Friday, bringing the state cumulative total to 430.

The five new cases were confirmed in two residents of Anchorage, one resident of Juneau, one resident of Homer and one resident of Soldotna.

Of the confirmed 430 cases of the disease, the state reports a total of 367 individuals have recovered.

One new confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in a nonresident in the state, bringing the total number of nonresidents to have tested positive in Alaska to 18. More than half of these cases belong to workers in the state's seafood industry, which is ramping up for the summer commercial fishing season.

The nonresident case reported Friday is that of a visitor to Alaska who was confirmed positive after completing his 14-day quarantine. The visitor tested positive in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Three of the total 18 confirmed nonresidents to have tested positive have been identified as "visitors." Cases of nonresidents are not counted among the state's total cases.

One new hospitalization was reported Friday, bringing the cumulative state total to 47. A total of 14 individuals are currently hospitalized in the state either with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or who are under investigation and await test results.

No new deaths were reported Friday.

A total of 49,439 tests have been conducted.

The state saw the highest single-day case report Thursday with 13 newly confirmed cases.

Dunleavy dismissed the high case count in a news conference Friday evening, noting that the state "had higher cases early on."

"Our caseload will go up, but I feel confident we'll be able to manage it," he said.

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink noted Friday evening it is clear the virus will spread the more that Alaskans interact as businesses open.

"The pandemic is not over. It's still really important we're taking this seriously," Zink said.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.