Gov. Mike Dunleavy has released 17 health mandates, or new sets of rules to try and protect Alaskans from COVID-19.
Those mandates have been a little confusing and proved hard to enforce. But Unalaska's Department of Public Safety has come up with a novel solution.
Earlier this month, Public Safety announced its newest tool in fighting the spread of COVID-19: a hotline where city residents can call in to report suspected health mandate violations. Anyone can dial-in, speak to an officer, or leave a voicemail detailing whatever violation they think they might have seen.
So, for example, if a caller sees someone in the grocery store who they think has just arrived from out-of-state and is violating their mandatory, 14-day quarantine, they can call the hotline and report that person.
Srgt. Kevin Wood is in charge of the hotline. He told KUCB that the goal is to educate, not punish.
“Based upon what I've been doing, is I'll contact the people, I'll educate them on what the mandate states as well as what the city mandate is on the quarantine and I’ll provide them with that information," said Wood.
Violations of the governor's mandates can come with a steep fine and possible imprisonment. Wood said he has reminded some people of those consequences.
"I also explain that their behavior potentially is criminal in nature, and if they were to continue, charges could be filed on them," said Wood. "But our main issue is to educate people. Hopefully they’ll bring themselves into self-compliance."
As of Wednesday, there were six complaints of possible violations. The rest of the calls were inquiries about what the various mandates actually mean.
The hotline number is 359-1323. Questions or messages for the hotline can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.