No new mandates: Gov. Dunleavy will continue to rely on voluntary measures in response to COVID-19

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at a COVID-19 news conference on July 7, 2020. (Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy says he will continue to rely on voluntary measures to respond to COVID-19 as the number of Alaskans with the virus increases rapidly.

During Monday’s news conference, Dunleavy repeated his call for Alaskans to stay away from others and wear masks to prevent the spread of the infectious disease.

“If we step back just a little bit,” he said, “and start working on some of these mitigation approaches that we all did months ago, that had us with the lowest numbers in the country across the board — and our numbers are still pretty low, and in some cases lowest across the board — we’re going to keep our businesses open, easily.”

RELATED: Number of active COVID-19 infections among Alaskans now tops 900

More than 20% of the total number of COVID-19 cases among Alaskans have been announced in the last five days.

Dunleavy said his administration doesn’t want to shut things down again. He is asking people to take steps on their own to reduce the spread of the virus.

He said a combination of factors have led to the increase of COVID-19 case in the state.

For one, he said, the low number of cases throughout April and much of May, compared with what many people expected, may be affecting Alaskans’ current behavior.

“You know, there are some folks who don’t necessarily think it’s real,” Dunleavy said. “I mean, they know there’s a virus out there, but don’t necessarily think it’s going to impact them or affect them. There’s other folks who have to do their work or essential social activities together.”

State health officials also said Monday that there’s a rising number of infections among Alaskans in their 20s and 30s, driving up case counts. They underscored that the number of coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalizations in the state remain low.

Dunleavy emphasized that the virus will come in waves until there is a vaccine.

Elsewhere in the country, surging case counts are driving a second round of restrictions in some cities and states, including California.