Coronavirus | Health | Public Safety | State Government‘Staged approach’: some elective medical procedures in Alaska will restart on Monday, April 20April 15, 2020 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media, and Rashah McChesney, KTOO Share:Update — Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public MediaElective medical procedures will be reintroduced in Alaska in steps, with some services that require minimal protective equipment restarting on Monday, April 20.Katie Church, an RN at Bartlett Regional Hospital, demonstrates putting on personal protective equipment to handle a patient infected with COVID-19 on Monday, April 7, 2020 in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)Gov. Mike Dunleavy and state health officials announced a new health mandate allowing more health care services at a briefing on Wednesday.State Health and Human Services Commissioner Adam Crum said health care providers must keep social distancing where possible and minimize the use of personal protective equipment.“It’s a staged approach, making sure that PPE is being conserved, that individuals understand the importance of maintaining alternative methods of care — be it telehealth or videoconferencing services — and the importance of physical barriers, and limiting the number of people in the workplace,” Crum said.The mandate would allow a wider range of elective procedures starting on May 4. For procedures that put health care workers at risk of exposure to the coronavirus, patients would have to have a negative test result for the virus within 48 hours of the procedure.Visitors to health care facilities will be restricted to end-of-life visits; a parent of a minor; a support person for labor and delivery; and a spouse or caregiver that lives with the patient on the day of a procedure. If a caregiver doesn’t live with the patient, they can be with the patient when they’re discharged.State officials have said increased testing capacity and supplies of protective equipment allowed for the change. Dunleavy said the economic impact of suspending elective procedures and the need to keep health care providers in the state also factored into the decision.Original story — Rashah McChesney, KTOOGov. Mike Dunleavy’s latest COVID-19 press conference is scheduled for 5 p.m.The governor, Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink have been holding these briefings almost daily since March 10.They’ve shared updates on the number of people in the state with confirmed cases, announced public health mandates and explained the administration’s strategy and rationale.Two more hospitalizations were reported today, bringing the state’s total to 34 — though that figure is cumulative and doesn’t represent the number of people currently hospitalized in the state. There are also eight new confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the total to 293.The updated count includes a case from the Nome census area, three from Juneau, one from Kenai and three from Anchorage. So far, 106 people have recovered from the virus.The Dunleavy administration has imposed public health mandates that have reshaped daily life across Alaska to combat the spread of the virus. Those mandates and other Alaska-specific COVID-19 resources and information are available at coronavirus.alaska.gov.On Wednesday, the governor will be joined by Corrections Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom. She’ll be talking about how the department is handling COVID-19 cases in the state’s correctional facilities.While there have not been widespread cases of the virus found in correctional facilities in the state, in Juneau there has been an outbreak at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center. So far, six staff members have tested positive for the virus.You can watch Wednesday’s press conference live on this post, the governor’s Facebook or Livestream pages, or on 360 North television. Share this story:,The headline for this story has been updated. The headline for this story has been updated.