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Unalaska Reduces Quarantine Time For Incoming Travelers

Berett Wilber/KUCB

Unalaska officials have reduced the number of days travelers to the island must quarantine upon arrival. 

Updated federal guidance recommends incoming travelers quarantine for at least a week with a negative COVID-19 test taken no sooner than their sixth day.

"Local health professionals now really do support aligning with the guidance that's provided by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] as well as the state," Unalaska City Manager Erin Reinders told the City Council on Tuesday. 

The quarantine period is extended to 10 days if no test is taken. That supersedes Unalaska's previous requirement that incoming travelers quarantine for a full two weeks upon arrival. It excludes those who have tested positive in the past three months or have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks before traveling. 

But Vice Mayor Dennis Robinson expressed concerns about the shorter quarantine period. He wondered whether individuals vaccinated or recently recovered could still spread the virus to people they come into contact with.

"Do we know that they're not going to infect them?" he asked.

Melanee Tiura, chief executive at the Iliuliuk Family and Health Services clinic, replied that the infection rate is extremely low for those previously infected or fully vaccinated. But she said it's less understood whether people around a vaccinated person could potentially contract the virus.

"Can they get COVID?" Tiura asked. "The thought is that they potentially can, which is why they're still asking for people who've been vaccinated to wear their masks and practice all normal precautions." 

Tiura said the clinic supported updating guidance that shortened the period and exempts vaccinated people from quarantining. 

The updated rules were unanimously approved by the seven-member City Council. 

The new order continues existing health measures: masks are required indoors, businesses are required to post mitigation plans on entrances and exits, and gatherings are limited to 10 people or less, with some exceptions. 

The City Council is expected to revisit the measures at their March 9 meeting. If it takes no action, the resolution will sunset on March 10.

Hope McKenney reported for KUCB from 2019 until 2022. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2021.
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