On Sunday, Mayor Vince Tutiakoff Sr. declared a state of emergency for the City of Unalaska.
"The City Manager is authorized to take necessary actions to prepare and position our resources in order to reduce the impact and spread of the coronavirus throughout the City of Unalaska," the declaration read.
The state of emergency will remain effective until at least midnight on March 22. The Unalaska City Council may choose to extend the order past that date.
"[The state of emergency] basically allows for us to spend money on things that we need to get right now without going through a formal bidding," said City Manager Erin Reinders. "It also allows for us to ask for staff to do some different things in any response efforts, should need arise."
By setting up a special emergency fund, the city is making room for a potential remunerations down the road.
"If there is an opportunity for reimbursement later on in this process through federal or state government, we'll have all our ducks in a row," explained Acting Fire Chief Mike Hanson.
Hanson said there are currently no plans to buy additional medical equipment, like respirators, for the city. The supply off-island is "pretty much non-existant at this point," he said. "Everybody has bought up as much as they could while they could."
Hanson added that the Fire Department is still well-stocked from the West African ebola epidemic in 2014.
As of Sunday afternoon, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Unalaska, and only one confirmed case in the state. But both Hanson and Reinders warned that Monday afternoon will likely bring news of more cases and pending tests in Alaska. Because both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state are not posting information over the weekend, the numbers are expected to increase significantly.
"That doesnt necessarily mean it's spreading faster," added Reinders. "[It means] we're testing more and reporting more."
Currently, Unalaska is at low-risk for any spread of COVID-19 to the community. In a March 13 press release, the city encouraged residents to adhere to the following social distancing measures:
- Stay at least 6 feet away from anyone who may be sick.
- Wash your hands regularly for at least twenty seconds.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Family isolation should be considered for those who have sick family members.
If Unalaskans are feeling sick, they should call the Iliuliuk Family & Health Services clinic at 581-1202. During after-hours, the number will be routed through to the Department of Public Safety.