By Melinda Munson

Following the lead of Gov. Mike Dunleavy, the Municipality of Skagway ended its shelter-in-place mandate on Friday. Skagway’s health mandates had originally been extended to April 30, “to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community and flatten the curve.” 

Community members should continue to practice social distancing and maintain six feet of space between non-household members, especially in public.

Individuals returning to Skagway are still expected to self-isolate for 14 days. Those coming from out-of-state or another country are legally required to complete self-isolation. Individuals who are self-isolating should keep away from family and friends as well as public places. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommend all persons wear face masks in public.

As of Friday, all Municipal facilities remain shuttered. These include the Skagway Museum, library, recreation center, senior center and the Visitor Information Center. All public bathrooms and outhouses are closed.

As of Thursday, 14 COVID-19 tests had been administered in Skagway. All 14 tests were negative. Residents can monitor the total number of tests administered as well as results at Click on the red COVID-19 banner. Skagway originally had around 40 tests. It continues to house one ventilator.

Skagway recently procured an Abbott ID Now, a portable instrument which can return COVID-19 results in 15 minutes. Because of possible false negatives, all results must be sent to an outside lab for confirmation testing. Patients tested for COVID-19 are asked to remain in quarantine until results are confirmed. 

Skagway continues to follow testing protocols established by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Anyone with fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing should call the Dahl Memorial Clinic.  

The Abbott ID Now came to Alaska at no cost via the National Strategic Stockpile.The state then distributed the tests to rural towns and villages. The quickest test on the market, the Abbott has come under scrutiny for not detecting early cases of COVID-19.

“It doesn’t work as a screening tool as much as we had wanted it to,” said Borough Manager Brad Ryan.

 Dahl Clinic continues efforts to acquire more COVID-19 test kits and ventilators.