Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued Health Mandate 15 today, which supersedes some of his previous orders that had ratcheted down medical care in Alaska for almost all conditions except COVID-19.
It’s not exactly a roll-back of Health Mandate 5, but close.
Starting Monday, a wide range of health practitioners, including acupuncturists, massage therapists, occupational therapists, and even religious healers will be able to return to their normal practices, while observing strict health protocols to keep patients, staff, and themselves safe from the contagion that has spread across the globe from Wuhan, China.
Must Read Alaska sources said that Monday was chosen as the target date because medical clinics need to staff up and ensure they have enough personal protective gear, and also be ready to follow the specific protocols that come with Health Mandate 15.
Providers, according to this new mandate, should continue to use telemedicine, and phone consultations when possible, and create physical barriers between providers and patients. They must employ universal masking procedures for all employees, including front desk staff. All patients need to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms, recent travel, or recent exposure to COVID-19. To the extent possible, doctors should begin testing all admitted patients for the coronavirus.
Lobbies and waiting rooms will need to be marked for social distancing and limited occupancy.
The governor emphasized that Alaskans need to be able to be treated for their illnesses that are not COVID-19. Fewer than 300 people in the state have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, but there are only 187 active cases. Nine Alaskans have died, seven of those died in the state.
“The suspension of non-essential procedures and health care have been beneficial in slowing the spread of the disease. The benefits of suspension must also be balanced with delayed health care and other health outcomes,” Dunleavy wrote in his latest health mandate.
On May 4, the restrictions on other elective medical procedures will ease for health care services that cannot be delayed without posing a significant risk to quality of life.