Juneau Assembly extends COVID mitigation measures

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau Assembly approved an ordinance adjusting COVID mitigation measures in the borough during their regular meeting last night.

    It would extend the COVID mitigation measures until May 1st.

    The ordinance also aimed to change rules for masking at the Minimal COVID risk level for unvaccinated individuals, making it only a strong recommendation.

    At the higher risk levels Modified High and High, masking is required at crowded indoor and outdoor events regardless of vaccination.

    During public hearing, individuals had spoken in support and opposition to COVID mandates.

    Those in opposition say the measures are unconstitutional, supporters called for continuing the measures to help prevent the spread of COVID.

    Mandated capacity limits for bars and restaurants were a point of concern since the legislative session is next week and the businesses are trying to get out of the pandemic.

    "We are just as hopeful as I think many of our testifiers tonight that on May 1st, we won't need to do this again, frankly, and that Omicron will be, again, a variant that burns relatively bright and that we see a decline," said Deputy City Manager Robert Barr.

    Assembly Memeber Greg Smith summarized their hopes with amending the COVID mitigations.

    "There's a hope that this is kind of a - again, I don't want to curse us - but potentially getting us more into an endemic phase of the pandemic or of this disease, and that may be able to end these mitigation strategies, but for now, a recommendation by the EOC, which receives input from public health officials and medical professionals is to continue these measures for a short time more because we just don't know the full impacts of Omicron and really the impacts on our hospitalization or our ability to provide medical care," Smith said.

    Barr was asked if the community will continue to see COVID case activity...

    "Yeah, I do," he said. "I would it would surprise me, pleasantly of course, if we were at a plateau at this point, based again on what locations that have seen Omicron before we have, there haven't been locations that I'm aware of any way that have plateaued and start to decline as soon as we would if we started that process now."

    Tlingit & Haida provided a report to the assembly. Government Affairs Liaison Heather Gatti spoke to the efforts of the tribe's emergency operations center, which was set up upon the onset of the pandemic. The center's goal is to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and they have provided training with communities and sent out supplies to communities, dispersing within Juneau to the tribe's citizens and staff.

    Meanwhile, Tlingit & Haida elections will be on March 17th, Gatti said that at that time they will have 116 newly elected delegates who will convene on April 20th to elect a president and executive council.

    At the beginning of the meeting, Snowplow operators were thanked for their work in removing snow in lieu of the recent "snowmageddon."


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