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Local Public Health Mandates Now 'Encouraged' Not 'Required' In Unalaska

Berett Wilber

Local public health mandates — including mask-wearing and self-quarantine after travel — are now "encouraged" instead of "required" in the City of Unalaska. 

The City Council unanimously passed the resolution Tuesday night, citing decreases in the number of local coronavirus cases and high vaccination rates. 

About 58% of Aleutians West residents have gotten at least their first shot of the vaccine, according to Melanee Tiura, chief executive at the Iliuliuk Family and Health Services clinic. Vaccination rates are even higher in the seafood industry.

"We have some companies that are over 90% [vaccinated]," she said. "So they've done very well."

City Manager Erin Reinders said the decision to loosen mandates was made in consultation with local health care providers after considering updated federal and state guidance.

"I will certainly say that we continue to monitor the situation, and if numbers were to rise, we would be able to respond accordingly," she said.

At the meeting, Council Member Dave Gregory asked about what the seafood industry plans to do to prepare for the influx of workers coming in for the upcoming summer fishing season.

Tiura responded that processing plants will continue to follow the mitigation plans they put in place during the winter season. 

"So even though the state has gone to advisories, companies are committed to keeping the COVID spread down in their workforce," she said. "Most of these are concentrated environments where people are very close together, and the results can be devastating. So what I have heard so far — I haven't seen any exceptions — is that companies are going to continue with those strategies to keep COVID counts low." 

The resolution went into effect Wednesday at noon and will expire in two weeks. Councilors will revisit the measures at their meeting on June 8. 

Hope McKenney is a public radio news director, reporter, producer and host based in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
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