Interior Communities Boost Precautions After Spike in COVID Cases, Emergency Declaration

Nov 13, 2020

The mayors of Delta Junction and the Denali Borough announced new precautions Thursday in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases locally and statewide – and the governor’s declaration of a covid emergency.

Delta Junction Mayor J.W. Musgrove says Thursday’s report of 12 more COVID-19 cases in town got his attention. So he and city officials have decided on another set of precautions that’ll go into effect at noon today.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services' COVID-19 dashboard shows increasing rate of infections statewide.
Credit ADHSS screenshot

“We will probably shut down the hockey rink,” Musgrove said Thursday. “We will probably stop virtually all activity in the Community Center and in the two conference rooms at the City Hall. … We don’t have any choice.”

The mayor says he and the Council and city staff are still working out details, but he wanted to get the word out today, because both the Community Center and the hockey rink usually are busy on weekends.

The outdoor ice rink may, however, remain open, because it presents a lower risk. “We will probably not put any serious restrictions on that outdoor skating area,” he said.

Musgrove says the new restrictions, along with those announced earlier in the month that closed City Hall and the library to walk-in business, all will remain in effect at least through mid-December.

Delta Mayor J.W. Musgrove, left, and Clay Walker, Denali Borough mayor
Credit KUAC file photos

That’s the timeframe that Gov. Mike Dunleavy set in his Thursday statewide emergency declaration. Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker says that declaration convinced borough officials to close their offices to walk-in business.

“But (we) kept it open to appointments, for folks who needs services, such as notary services, passport services,” he said Thursday. “And of course staff and myself are available by phone and email, as well.”

Walker says the borough earlier this year imposed, then lifted, that restriction twice since the pandemic began. The additional precautions follow Wednesday’s decision by the borough Assembly to pass an ordinance that extends the local government’s emergency declaration into early next year.

“We said that it’s in effect until the last day of February,” he said.

Assembly members also amended the ordinance to authorize holding their meetings online. They’ve been doing that for months, but Walker says the change was needed to suspend the borough charter’s requirement that the meetings be held with members attending in person.