Governor Mike Dunleavy answered calls to introduce more COVID-19 seats across the state, saying those decisions should be made by local authorities.
“I know that there are many people who would like me to entrust the mask bar closure, the closure of the restaurant,” said Dunleavy, during a press conference on Tuesday. “But it just doesn’t make sense when you have communities that have never seen a virus and can not see the virus.
Dunleavy said that state health officials will work with municipalities to recommend steps they can take to reduce the spread of the virus.
“It just makes more sense from the point of view of the resource, with emphasis point of view, and indeed from the local control perspective to have a partnership with the state, local elected officials and local residents to be able to fight this virus,” he said.
Dunleavy pointed to other States that allow the authorities of cities and counties to decide whether to impose mandates. He said that Alaska has the support of rural communities that have restricted non-essential travel.
Dunleavy’s comments came shortly after the leaders of the hospital told the House health Committee and social services, the hospital will be overwhelmed in September, if the current growth in cases continues. Some suggested that the government could impose a mandate on the state to wear a mask that would allow municipalities to refuse than to accept.
Some of the largest local authorities in the state may not have the legal power to impose mandates of health.
The Executive Director of the municipal League Alaska Nils Andreassen said that the League is working with the administration on consultation of municipal employees. But he said that second-class regions, including Fairbanks North Old, Kenai Peninsula, Matanuska-Susitna, and Ketchikan areas of the gateway does not have this authority.
“I think for a second class city, it’s pretty clear that this is a difficult position, and it’s pretty clear that they can’t issue a mandate,” he said.
The Department attorney ed Sniffen said the state advises municipalities of their authority to make changes. At a press conference, he asked What would happen if the municipalities have sued for restriction of health.
“No one is immune from the lawsuit, people sue people at all times and for any reason. All we can do is make sure that we have the best legal authority, we can help municipalities to understand before they decide to take action,” he said. “And we try to be active in what to do with the community.”