Exclusive: Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Reopening Alaska for Business

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at a news conference Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska. State health department officials discussed proposals they are seeking for a study on the feasibility of privatizing Alaska's state-owned psychiatric hospital and announced the Alaska Psychiatric Institute is in good standing with federal requirements. …
Mark Thiessen/AP Photo

The state of Alaska is among the first states to reopen for business after the coronavirus crisis.

“We’ve got to get the economy going but not at the expense of health,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) said in an interview with Breitbart News on Monday.

Republican governors around the country are taking the lead in reopening their states, showing other states what they can do during the coronavirus pandemic.

Phase one of the reopening process in Alaska began a week ago, as the state started reopening healthcare procedures, elective surgeries, doctor visits, and chiropractors.

Next up, personal care services such as hair salons, nails, and tattoo parlors will be allowed to reopen for appointments as soon as this week.

“Masks, everything’s got to be wiped down. Those people have to go in by reservations and appointments,” Dunleavy said.

That would expand to restaurants this week, allowing them to accommodate families and allowing reservations with spacing under one roof.

“You might have a table with one family visiting under the same roof and then ten feet away you could have another family,” he said.

If all went well, he said, they would continue to expand restraint capacity, allowing groups of up to 20 people seated outdoors at a time.

Dunleavy said that Alaskans were used to working together in times of crisis.

“We live with disaster in Alaska,” Dunleavy said. “We have major earthquakes all the time. We have large forest fires. We have volcanic eruptions. We have floods, so we deal with this stuff all the time.”

Some of Alaska’s more isolated communities, he said, were allowed to set their own standards via their local elected officials.

Dunleavy said he would closely watch hospital bed capacity for ICUs, making sure it was still less than 75 percent, and that the R0 infection rate was 1.3 or lower.

“If they’re okay, we’re good,” he said, noting that the state had some of the lowest numbers in the country right now.

One of his biggest concerns economically, he said, was the dramatic crash in the price of oil on Monday, a crucial part of Alaska’s economy.

He said that the Alaska industry was struggling even when oil was $63 a barrel.

“You never know what’s going to happen, but it would appear that if capacity worldwide is maxed out, you’re going to see the price of oil bounce on the floor here for a while,” he said.

Tourism would also suffer from the pandemic as the governor noted that Alaska was also a prominent destination for cruises.

“I think across the board, Alaska will be impacted with what’s going on,” he said.

Dunleavy said that President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had done a good job responding to the pandemic, noting that he participated in a call with Pence and other governors about ramping up testing on Monday afternoon.

“Nobody’s trained to do a once in a 100-year pandemic, and so I think that the president and the vice president are probably doing as good a job as anyone could have,” he said.

Dunleavy said the national political partisan scene would continue to attack the president, despite his efforts to lead the country through the crisis.

“A lot of that is still I think carryover from the attempts at trying to get rid of the president from the moment he was elected,” he said.


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