Wrangell, Alaska (KINY) - SEARHC staff in Wrangell are preparing for changes to the state traveler testing program to comply with new guidelines, which were introduced on Aug. 11.
The updated mandate states that non-resident travelers may no longer obtain a free COVID-19 test upon arrival in Alaska, preserving the state supply. Non-residents must now take a qualifying test 72-hours before departure to Alaska and show proof of a negative result at arrival, or quarantine until results are received and submitted.
Non-compliance will lead to a required test at the airport and a $250 payment at the traveler’s expense.
Free tests will remain available to all Alaska residents traveling into the state.
AICS Clinic Manager Carly Allen stressed the importance of community COVID-19 testing in the wake of recent local gatherings. Free, asymptomatic tests are available to all residents every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside the AICS Clinic.
Dr. Lynn Prysunka, WMC Medical Director, applauded the introduction of the local support group Wrangell Quarantines. The Facebook-based group maintains participant privacy while offering care packages, errand running, phone or Facetime calls, and more to persons in isolation due to COVID-19.
“This is something we’ve been hoping to implement locally,” said Jamie Roberts. “It’s important for those in quarantine to know they are heroes within the community and not being shunned. We need to change the mindset, and this group is a step in the right direction.”
Wrangell Cooperative Association Tribal Administrator Esther Reese updated the Unified Command on the funding of power cot equipment from WCA on behalf of the local ambulance fleet.
Mayor Prysunka stressed the importance of the new equipment, which will allow all three ambulances to operate safely with smaller response crews. Patient loading and unloading can be accomplished with one responder, compared to three or four with manual loading systems, limiting close contact and preserving usage of personal protective equipment.
Reese said that the Tribe was “happy to be a part of the solution.”