State clarifies testing rules for incoming travelers

COVID-19 diagnostic panel (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Out-of-state travelers will be required to either have a negative test taken within 72 hours of departing for Alaska, or proof that they have results of a test taken within 72 hours that are pending, Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said at a press briefing Tuesday.

The changes to the state’s travel rules go into effect August 11.

RELATED: Alaska to stop testing nonresident travelers for COVID-19 at airports, require negative result

Until out-of-state travelers have a negative result, they will be required to self-quarantine, he said. Also, nonresident travelers who haven’t taken a test will still be able to take one on arrival in Alaska, but they will have to pay a fee, and will be required to quarantine until they have a result. Dunleavy had said last week that the state would stop testing nonresidents.

Crum said children age 10 and younger won’t be required to have tests. Tests will be available at airports for Alaskans who are flying to rural communities, Crum said.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy cited as statistic in his weekly news briefing on Tuesday, saying Alaska is now first in the country in the number of coronavirus tests per resident.  

“We’re working really hard at making sure we have tests available,” he said. “We’re testing folks to let them know if they in fact have been infected, so they can get the medical care that they need.”

Alaskans have taken roughly 35 tests for every 100 residents. That’s roughly three tests more than those in New York, the second-highest state. 

Alaska has the second-lowest death rate of residents with the virus, after Hawaii.

But the share of Alaskans who test positive is increasing. And state and local health officials have said the number of new cases is growing faster than the ability of public health workers to investigate everyone who COVID-19 patients have had close contact with.  

The state has updated its COVID-19 website with more information about testing. The average wait time for test results by borough is now available. 

For example, over the past two weeks, the average time for health care facilities to process tests has ranged from two days in Petersburg to 7.9 days in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough. 

The share of tests that are positive by borough is available on the site too.