The cases announced Wednesday are the most since December, when infections were decreasing from a peak in November.
“What I do is my business, and what the individual does is their business,” Bronson said. “I’m not here to tell people to wear masks or get vaccinated. My focus as a government leader is to provide the absolute best information that’s available.”
The last time case counts were this high, Anchorage’s city government had a mask mandate, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration required COVID testing for visitors. But even as cases spike again, officials aren't reinstating those measures, citing the vaccine's availability.
“This pandemic is clearly not over, and it is being driven primarily by people who are unvaccinated,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, Alaska’s state epidemiologist.
Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy has said his administration won’t require vaccine passports. But it is nonetheless getting ready to launch an online platform that Alaskans can use to look up and display their COVID-19 vaccination records.
The loosened guidance should make it easier to reopen schools and workplaces. Mask requirements are still in place for public transport and health care settings.
The authorization expands the pool of eligible vaccine recipients to about 87% of the total U.S. population, covering an additional 17 million children, and comes at a time when people under age 18 account for one 1 of every 5 newly reported coronavirus infections.
The federal Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for the age group. Now, the state is waiting for approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before it starts vaccinating children ages 12 to 15.