Anchorage’s COVID-19 pandemic emergency declaration for 14 months has ended.
At an Anchorage Assembly meeting Tuesday evening, incumbent Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson announced that he issued a proclamation ending the statement that day, citing a recent drop in COVID-19 cases and vaccines widely available.
He also said the city no longer needs to rely on the flexibilities provided by a declaration of emergency for its response to COVID-19.
“We can end the emergency today for two reasons: an improved public health situation and a reduced need for administrative flexibility granted under the local emergency declaration,” Quinn-Davidson said. “Over the past two weeks, we have seen a significant drop in COVID-19 cases,” he said.
Anchorage’s average of 14 new cases exceeded five cases per 100,000 people, which went from more than 10 per 100,000 two weeks ago, he said. The city has now reached the state’s intermediate risk category, below its high-risk category for the first time since last summer, he said.
The city’s emergency declaration was first published on March 12, 2020 by then-Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, it was enlarged eight different times by the Assembly.
The declaration of emergency allowed the mayor to issue emergency orders in response to the public health crisis. Anchorage saw broad orders in establishing citywide health precautions, including the city’s previous mask mask and size collection limits and various restrictions and temporary shutdowns of businesses.
It also allowed the city to be flexible with its resources and manpower. It strengthened its emergency operations center to focus on pandemic mitigation and carried out actions such as the acquisition of personal protective equipment in the early days of the pandemic, the testing of COVID- 19 throughout the city and the distribution of vaccines.
“Giving up the emergency operations center does not mean that COVID-19 is over or that we will stop our work to mitigate it,” Quinn-Davidson said. “We’re coming out of a formal emergency response, but our work doesn’t stop there.”
He said the city will identify existing departments to continue their critical responses to COVID-19, including control, vaccination and testing data.