Statewide COVID-19 Communications: April 20-26 Communications Resources

COVID-19: State of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services

COVID-19 Week of April 20-26 in Review

Ray Troll Social Distancing Alaska Style

Message from the Editors

We apologize this is a day late. Our intent is to get these communication reviews out by Sunday evening or Monday morning, as a roundup of main events and messages from the week before.  If you would like items included in this email (sent to about 200 COVID-19 communicators statewide), please email items to or with the subject: COVID-19 Week in Review.

Attached are scripts of our new PSAs. The .mp3 files are too large to attach but please email us if you want them. Also attached is CDC's Communication Highlights (for communicators, not for general distribution) and also ASTHO's Roadmap to Recovery (just FYI, a resource for states to use as a framework for reopening). 

Thanks everyone for all your hard work statewide informing Alaskans. We’re in this together!

Also, a big thank you to artist Ray Troll for sharing this illustration with DHSS. 

Thank you, Elizabeth Manning and Kathy Griffith, DHSS Public Information 

Case Counts

This week in review covers case counts from Sunday, April 19 through Saturday, April 25 (data is reported the following day on the website and in the daily DHSS press release)

  • 22 new positive cases (341 total)
  • 0 new deaths (9 total)
  • 0 new hospitalizations (36 total)
  • Cases of note: Sitka had its first case and the Department of Corrections confirmed the first case of an inmate at a DOC facility (Goose Creek Correctional Center).
  • Alaska has the fewest number of cases of all 50 states.

New cases are reported from 12:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. daily and are posted by noon to the data dashboard at

Daily press releases, press briefings, presentations and more can be found here:

Message From Dr. Anne Zink

As we reopen Alaska and our community mitigation measures decline (stay home mandate eased), please help remind Alaskans to be even more vigilant with two other levers that will help continue to flatten our pandemic curve: personal mitigation and environmental mitigation. (These CDC links are for the flu but are good descriptions of these mitigation categories).

Let's encourage Alaskans to keep their social circles small and deliberate as restrictions ease. Consider spacing out errands or public outings and being very cautious and deliberate about public outings. Maybe your family goes out to eat OR you get a haircut. In other words, let's go slow and be cautious. Dr. Zink also suggests Alaskans keep a volunteer log of interactions with others in the event they do become ill, so contact tracing is expedited. One thing to be aware of, as we continue to open up, is the concept of a social bubble messaged in Canada and New Zealand. More discussions to come on that soon.

State of Alaska Health Mandates

The State of Alaska has started the process of gradually lifting some of the public health restrictions that have been enacted through a series of Health Mandates and Alerts (the first one, Health Alert 001 was issued on March 11). As we communicate details of the Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan, we need to highlight the importance of continuing protective public health measures of maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from others, wearing a face covering in public, staying home when sick, practicing good hygiene such as frequent handwashing and getting tested at the first sign of illness. (See Dr. Zink’s message above).

Health Mandate 016 announcing the Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan – Phase I was issued on April 22 and subsequently updated with attachments that provide conditions and guidance for various businesses to gradually expand operations. It also includes new guidance for the general public on intrastate travel; outdoor day activities; and social, religious and other gatherings. The mandate went into effect Friday, April 24, 2020.

For sharing: Facebook | Facebook | Twitter | Twitter

Health Mandate 017 on Protective Measures for Independent Commercial Fishing Vessels was issued on April 23 and went into effect Friday, April 24, 2020. It standardizes the protective measures all independent commercial fishing vessels operating within Alaska waters and ports must follow to ensure a safe, productive fishing season while protecting communities from the spread of #COVID19.

For sharing: Facebook | Twitter

Health Mandate 10 on International and Intrastate Travel was extended to May 19 and will be reevaluated weekly.

Health Mandate 12 on Intrastate Travel was extended until further notice.

All mandates and their supporting documents can be read online:

For a detailed FAQ:

Businesses, organizations and the general public may send questions to

Goose Creek Correctional Center COVID-19 Case

On April 26, the Alaska Department of Corrections confirmed the first COVID-19 case in an inmate at a DOC facility. The case was at the Goose Creek Correctional Center in the Mat-Su Borough. See the DOC’s COVID-19 website for more information:

 Data updates

DHSS Family Surveys

DHSS issued a press release on Monday about results from the first in a series of surveys aimed at finding out how COVID-19 is affecting the lives of families with children. Read the release. To take the the second survey or see results from the first survey, visit the Maternal Child Health webpage. Key Finding: Spending time outdoors (74%), increased family time (71%) and connecting with friends and family online (69%) have helped families deal with social distancing measures.


  • DHSS produced an audio and video PSA with Dr. Zink encouraging more widespread testing. For sharing: Facebook | Twitter
  • ANTHC/ANMC has produced several video PSAs encouraging testing at ANMC. For sharing: Facebook | Facebook | Facebook
  • DHSS Public Health Nursing, Breaking down barriers for testing: if someone doesn’t have a doctor or health insurance, please encourage them to call their local Public Health Center. Public health nurses keep a resource list of all local providers that offer testing services. The list includes provider contact information, costs associated with the test, and if they offer financial assistance. PHNs work in collaboration with local off-site testing providers to assure patients with access issues can get tested at their off-site testing locations. PHNs work with the local EOC to advocate for the setup of off-site testing events to assure vulnerable populations have access. PHNs can also collect tests (based on Dr. Zink’s Medical Directive) with priority given to contacts and clients who meet criteria and can’t get access to a provider/off-site testing event.
  • Section of Epidemiology Testing Guidance: This April 22 document contains the most recent SOE guidance for COVID-19 testing in Alaska. This may change soon again. SOE is working on guidelines for asymptomatic testing, due out today.
  • Antibody testing: Dr. Joe McLaughlin recommended this primer from the Infectious Diseases Society of America on the state of the science of COVID serology testing.

COVID-19 Symptoms

  • The CDC officially expanded its list of COVID-19 symptoms on April 27. This expanded list matches what DHSS and our partners have been messaging.

Cloth Face Coverings

  • The Atlantic had this helpful article about cloth face coverings. “Masks can be worn to protect the wearer from getting infected or masks can be worn to protect others from being infected by the wearer. Protecting the wearer is difficult: It requires medical-grade respirator masks, a proper fit, and careful putting on and taking off. But masks can also be worn to prevent transmission to others, and this is their most important use for society. If we lower the likelihood of one person infecting another, the impact is exponential, so even a small reduction in those odds results in a huge decrease in deaths. Luckily, blocking transmission outward at the source is much easier. It can be accomplished with something as simple as a cloth mask.”
  • DHSS produced this new graphic: Facebook | Twitter

Recent CDC Reports 

New Outreach

  • Child and family well-being: Alaska's children need all of us to keep them safe. The Office of Children's Services has a new website on ‘Child Safety & Well-Being During #COVID19’ that offers info & resources for everyone: families, children & youth, and community members. For sharing: Facebook | Facebook | Twitter | Twitter
  • New DHSS Seniors and Disabilities Services Toolkit: Our Senior and Disabilities Services Division developed a new COVID-19 Resource Toolkit called "Living Well on the Last Frontier" that provides really useful information and resources for Alaskans with intellectual and developmental disabilities who may be experiencing unique challenges during the COVID-19 outbreak. For sharing: Facebook | Twitter
  • Youth messaging: DHSS has developed messages designed especially for youth on COVID-19 prevention and mental well-being. For sharing: Facebook | Facebook | Twitter | Twitter
  • Disability resources: Having a disability may not be related to higher risk for getting #COVID19 or having severe illness, but people with disabilities who have underlying medical conditions may be. For sharing: Facebook | Facebook | Twitter | Twitter
  • Masks: As we gradually reopen AK, wearing a cloth face covering when out in public is as important as ever to prevent the spread of #COVID19. If you wear one, you protect others; if others wear them, you are protected. For sharing: Facebook | Twitter
  • Business videos: The ingenuity shown by many AK businesses is inspiring. During this pandemic, it’s important for Alaskans to pull together. Find ways to support your local businesses while still keeping everyone safe from #COVID19. For sharing: Facebook | Facebook | Twitter | Twitter
  • Social media influencers: Iditarod Champion Jeff King and musician Eric Howk of Portugal. The Man. are helping to spread key messages about COVID-19. Jeff’s video is about the importance of testing, even in cases of mild illness. Eric talks about the importance of keeping physical space from others. For sharing: Facebook | Facebook |Twitter | Twitter
  • Disinfectant and cleaner safety: Poison centers across the U.S. have reported an increase in calls about exposure to cleaners and disinfectants. In addition to keeping hand sanitizers out of reach of children, when using cleaning & disinfecting products please always follow the label directions, use them in a well-ventilated space, and don't mix chemicals. For sharing: Facebook | Twitter
  • Lab Week, April 19-25: Many thanks to our medical lab professionals working every day across Alaska to keep Alaskans safe. Marmian Grimes, Public Information Officer with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, also provided photos and b-roll of the Alaska Virology Laboratory on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus to media outlets. For information, email

Medical and Science Questions

Dr. Liz Conway and Dr. Anne Zink produce a daily clinical update for medical providers on COVID-19. In that newsletter, Dr. Conway is answering questions from providers posed during ECHO sessions (teleconferences for providers). We will be sharing some that are of interest to the general public in this communication review each week.

Is the virus affected by high or low temperatures? UV? Chlorine dioxide?

Heat affects the virus. In viral culture media, SARS-CoV-2 is stable for weeks at 4 degrees Celsius (~39F), but at 22C (~72F) it only lasts a week. It lasts around one day at 37C(98.6F), less than 30 minutes at 56C(~133F) and less than five minutes at 70C(158F). The same study also tested household bleach, 70% ethanol and other disinfectants, finding most to be effective against the virus within five minutes of exposure. While using chlorine dioxide, which is known to be bactericidal, on surfaces may be helpful against viruses, it has not been tested specifically for SARS-CoV-2. Chlorine dioxide should not be ingested.  

UV light is also used against viruses and may be helpful for the disinfection of surfaces. The International Ultraviolet Association fact sheet notes that UV disinfection systems are dangerous to humans. 

A panel of experts from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine addressed the question, will higher ambient temperatures or humidity meaningfully affect virus transmission? They found that although higher temperatures and humidity reduce survival of SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory, weather changes alone are not likely to have as much effect on viral transmission as public health interventions. (The Rapid Expert Consultation is available free with registration.)

What is the incubation period of the virus?

The incubation period, or the period of time between exposure and developing symptoms, of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses ranges from 2-14 days according to CDC. An estimate from China data noted the most common incubation period was around 5 days and more than 97% of people who develop symptoms do so within 12 days.  

Are asymptomatic people with the virus contagious? Can people be infectious before they start to have symptoms? 

In a study done at a skilled nursing facility in Washington where they screened all consenting residents for SARS-CoV-2 that were not already known to have the virus, 63% tested positive. 56% of the nursing home residents who tested positive were asymptomatic at the time. Most (89%) later went on to develop symptoms. Viral growth was found in around two-thirds of samples from residents with symptomatic infection and around the same proportion of presymptomatic and asymptomatic residents. Transmission from asymptomatic and presymptomatic cases has been documented. 

Is there a role for vitamin C in COVID-19 treatment or prevention?

There is no evidence that vitamin C supplementation helps prevent COVID-19. A Cochrane review found that vitamin C does not help prevent the common cold. Whether vitamin C supplementation has a beneficial effect in critical illness remains unclear. A randomized controlled trial of vitamin C in severe COVID-19 is ongoing in China but results are not yet available. 

Have a great week, everyone. Be safe, be kind and be well.