COVID update 7: State issues travel guidelines, Fairbanks borough facilities shut down


This is seventh in the series of COVID-19 updates. For past updates, click on the All Stories tab.

Dr. Anne Zink, chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, has issued an advisory of “strongly recommended” voluntary guidelines for Alaskans returning from trips outside the state:

Higher Risk: For travelers returning within 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread, ongoing community spread such as Europe, China and other countries (i.e., a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice Area) you should:

  •  Stay home and avoid contact with other household members. 
  •  Contact your employer and do not go to work or school for this 14-day period after you return. 
  •  CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice Areas
    •  China, Iran, South Korea, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City.

Medium Risk: Travelers returning within 14 days from outside of Alaska (including the rest of the United States) should: 

  •  Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
  •  Minimize contact with people as much as possible, self-monitor and practice social distancing. 
  •  This may mean not going to work or school if you cannot safely be distanced from others – especially if you traveled in a location where community transmission is occurring. 

Health Guidance for Returning Travelers in the Higher and Medium Risk Groups

  1.  Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
  2.  Do not take mass transportation during the time you are practicing social distancing.
  3.  Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
  4.  Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).
  5.  If you get sick with fever (>100.3°F), cough, or shortness of breath, please call your health care provider.
  6.  If you seek medical care for other reasons, such as dialysis, call ahead to your doctor and tell them about your recent travel.

All Alaskans should follow previous guidance including regular hand washing, cleaning surfaces and avoiding large gatherings, she said.


Borough Mayor Bryce J. Ward ordered the closures of many public facilities, to meet CDC recommendations that people do not gather in large groups:

Effective immediately and until March 30, 2020, these facilities are closed in the Fairbanks North Star Borough: 

  • Parks & Recreation – all pools, the Big Dipper Ice Arena, all adaptive recreation programs and all Borough Senior programs 
  • Transit – the downtown Max C. Lyon Transit Center (bus transfers will still occur at the station) 
  • Libraries – the Noel Wien & North Pole Branch Library Facilities (virtual and online open only)
  • All non-essential Public Meetings and Boards/Commission Meetings
  • Borough Fire Stations – No public access 
  • Borough functions and facilities that are or will remain operational: 
  • All Administrative functions 
  • Transportation Services (MACS Transit and Van Tran)
  • Solid Waste – the Landfill and all Transfer Sites 
  • Animal Control – with reduced staffing 
  • Public Meetings or Hearings – essential only 

Borough Mayor Ward said, “I understand the difficulties this may present for the community and our employees and that there may be challenges to overcome implementing this decision. I will continue to monitor the situation and rely on the guidance of public health experts so that we do not continue service reductions longer than necessary.”


  1. Reviewing the regular commenters remarks over the last few days shows a marked contrast today from the earlier theories that proliferated in the comments where’leftists’ were perpetrating a hoax or ‘not to worry, it’s only the flu’.
    If you want to try to avoid becoming a victim of this ‘hoax’, perhaps start doing the things the scientists have been saying from the start and ignore any more propaganda and misinformation.
    Here’s a source for information that might help keep everyone safer, your family and those of the evil ‘leftists’.
    The head of our government today in Washington DC, and the head here in Alaska have squandered 10 weeks that should have been used to get out ahead of this, testing should have been immediately rolled out and made available on a broad based regimen.
    Instead, for 10 weeks there was denial, misinformation, lies, and lots of talk of how they have it all under control or we’re about to do something.
    Cases are doubling, exponential spread is expected, the numbers are going to overwhelm our health care capacity. We could have instituted better practices, we could have tested so we knew where to lock areas down, knew who to quarantine. We didn’t. We still aren’t testing at a level that is near adequate.
    The proof is out there, there are countries doing much better than others, what those countries are doing right, like what Singapore is setting the example? We are all about doing pretty much the opposite.
    America deserves better than the response we got and too many are going to die because we were slow-rolled and handed bogus info.

    • The President issued a travel ban from China in the first month and the liberal haters all shouted that he was racist and xenophobic. We have an incredibly low number of those infected and deaths compared to other countries because of his swift action. Your attempt to politicize the issue is disgusting.

      • Well, alleged ‘mayor dan’

        I didn’t politicize this crisis, Trump did.

        Trump chose politics when he pushed cuts of $15 billion in national health spending and eliminating the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS. And the government’s $30 million Complex Crises Fund was eliminated.

        Why? Because another president had promoted the idea that you prepare for a pandemic before it strikes.

        Trump chose to attempt erasing all that previous president worked on.

        If you are, or ever were a mayor, please don’t think you’re’ fit for public service again.

  2. Weird that no one is discussing the “normal flu” statistics in America.
    “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released data from the second week of the2020 influenza season. … At this point in the season, CDC estimates indicate that there have been 13 million influenza illnesses, 120,000 hospitalizations, and 6600 flu-related deaths.”
    Hopefully the state “authorities” can keep it all in perspective as we move forward?

    • No one is ‘discussing’ it as if it ought to be compared to the flu other than the uninformed or those misled by the uninformed.

      People who have much more professional and scientific expertise have debunked and warned about the dangers of attempting to conflate this virus with ‘the flu’.

      Simply put, you endanger others when you promote misconceptions and misinformation.

  3. While the hoarders empty shelves because of a media panic, the rest of us will be living like we are in a prison watching this unfold. Only news I read is right here. No streaming news, nothing. It’s all just hyped up garbage to get more people freaked out over something like the cold or flu. No one is ever talking about OTHER NEWS!! You think all the front page news is all coronavirus? It’s not… They are feeding us what they want us to have… Open your eyes…we’re gonna come back after this is over in a month and find out what they really have been doing… That’s our government.

    • Speaking of opening one’s eyes.

      I’ll be waiting a month to see how you respond when our country resembles the reality Italians are facing today.

      My guess is you will refuse to take ownership of your misconceptions and fallacious conspiracy theories.

      The US surgeon general stated today that the US is in the same position relative to Italy two weeks ago.

      Comparing this virus to a cold or flu is simply insane advice. This is not a cold or flu.

      • Nay,
        Armchair quarterbacks always make their most important decisions with hindsight. Many think they know it all. They don’t. Where were you and your comments two months ago? I sure didn’t see anything momentous from you. Now, you talk like you’re the only one in the know. Speaking of disinformation, your posts are not mainstream except for liberals and MSM. Always someone else to blame for inaction that is common in these current trials and tribulations. True, there were instances where prompt action would have helped. That doesn’t mean our President was uncaring or out of the loop. The major difficulties facing America have been exacerbated with faulty tests, refusal, blame and ignorance. Why further that problem? Stop the blame game and offer constructive criticism or talk about the weather (personal suggestion). We’ll all be better off. Sooner or later this will pass.

        • Any and every day of the week, all I see from all your commenters and you too is grievances and trying to pin blame on others.

          When you start chiding all the others and stop that action yourself, then you can think about approaching that hypocrisy of yours again.

          Til then, face facts. You backed a loser.

  4. I read it 3 times and can’t believe they have closed the transfer sites and landfill and keeping the animal control with reduced staffing. Seems backwards to me!
    What is it going to be like when the night temperatures rise above freezing.

  5. @Ben Colder

    Did you imagine that was an example of your ‘wit’?

    It was instead merely pretentious dissembling.

    It was all you had to offer after being shown your own hypocrisy.

    Try arguing from a reality based perspective, all you have to offer is weak attempts to ‘attack the messenger’.

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