State bans restaurant dining as Alaska’s confirmed coronavirus cases grow to 6

Dr. Anne Zink, chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, briefed reporters on the coronavirus at a press conference with Gov. Mike Dunleavy on March 10, 2020. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said three samples — from people in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Ketchikan — tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday. That doubles the number of confirmed Alaska cases.

Zink said all six cases so far appear to be related to travel, as opposed to “community spread.”

“We’ve seen in just a few days that we’ve had no cases, to one case, to now more cases,” Zink said. “And this is what we’re going to continue to see with this, if we do not all work together to stand apart, to be able to socially distance, but also to take care of each other.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Dunleavy banned dine-in service at bars and restaurants statewide. Take-out and delivery is still allowed. The order, which goes into effect Wednesday at 5 p.m., is similar to the ban Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz imposed for the city on Monday.

The closure lasts through April 1st. It also applies to all entertainment facilities, including theaters, gyms, bowling alleys and bingo halls.

Zink said the state has 1,650 kits at state labs to do more tests. Zink said the state expects to have more testing capacity soon.

“I was on numerous federal calls today to try to get additional supplies, including swabs and reagents, to be able to expand that capacity, as we try to expand to meet what we are concerned about, a growing epidemic within our state, and a pandemic worldwide,” she said.

Through Tuesday, the state reported 426 negative test results.

Related: Read more coronavirus coverage from Alaska Public Media.

Andrew Kitchenman contributed to this story.