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Borough Manager shares details on local preparations for coronovirus

Last week the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly got a brief education on the coronavirus, COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and what is being done locally to protect residents.

Click arrow below to hear full segment from Borough Manager Michael Powers on local coronavirus preparations.

KMXT’s Maggie Wall has this report.

Click arrow to listen, or continue below to read report.

Communities and officials all over the world are being forced to give serious thought to how they will prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease, and Kodiak is no different.

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly last week heard details of recent efforts by local officials to prepare the community for any possible spread of the coronavirus.

During Manager’s Comments, Michael Powers gave a summary of last week’s meeting of the local emergency services council and provided information on the coronavirus.

He said one concern is the need to keep local medical and emergency personnel healthy so they can treat those who might become infected and develop COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“The city is working to try to lessen to the degree possible exposure of medical staff, fire department staff, and as well as Providence is working along those same lines. Most of the health care providers have adopted screening questions at this point. So if you go to make an appointment, they will ask you some screening questions.”

And Powers had these details on the spread, exposure, and timing related to the coronavirus.

“Human to human contact is the primary source of transmission but this virus will last on inanimate objects for up to nine days. This virus also has asymptomatic exposure risk, which means people can spread the virus even though they have no signs of being sick. That number is estimated at 27 days.

“However, our government and others are using a 14-day quarantine period. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t make sense but trying to lock up people for 14 days is extremely difficult, let alone trying to lock them up for an entire month.”

Powers cautioned residents to be careful about what they read or hear since there has been a spread of inaccurate information about the virus.

“The biggest problem though, is the lack of information to know exactly how bad and how bad the transmission rates are going to be, and, ultimately, mortality rates.

Entire cities have been put on lockdown in China, where the coronavirus first emerged. Other countries have limited or prohibited large gatherings and events.

In Alaska last week, the Anchorage, Mat-Su Borough, and Kenai Peninsula School Districts cancelled school-related travel for students, according to KTUU News.

One early precaution communities take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is to shut down schools. Seattle area schools are now closed for two weeks because of the coronavirus.

Locally, the Kodiak Island Borough School District has a response plan in case it becomes necessary to teach kids from home.

Powers said he spoke with School Superintendent Larry LeDoux and believes the schools have come up with reasonable plans to continue teaching children if local schools need to close.

However, there is one major aspect of keeping kids home that will affect the entire community and local economy. Who will take care of kids while they are force to stay home?

“One of the big secondary effects that I kind of felt went over like a bomb in the room the other day at the emergency services Council, is the lack of childcare that’s available on the island. If the schools close we’ve got 2,800 plus kids who are going to be at home, effectively.

“And we have a lot of two parent working families that aren’t going to be able to provide childcare, and have both parents go to their job. So that’s going to have some serious impacts upon our community and the workforce, including the borough’s workforce, the city’s workforce, and certainly on the private side. And that’s one of those things that has not been addressed or is easy to address.”

Despite the threat, Powers said all the talk of coronavirus has had a positive effect for our island community. It has reiterated the need to be prepared for an emergency—be it an earthquake, tsunami, or a deadly disease that shuts down transportation.

“That having all been said hopefully no one’s like shaking in their boots. On the positive side, we’re seeing people buy food and stock up, which we’ve been harping on that message for quite some time. That we live on a rock in the middle of the ocean, and we’re only one small earthquake, or minor disruption in Seattle, from having no barges come in. And so everyone should be well prepared with food on hand.”

“This seems to be driving some people to do that which is a benefit to the community. This is a different type of disaster than a natural disaster. But everyone should have food storage as part of their plans if you live on an island in the middle of the Pacific that relies on food to be brought in by barges.”