By Melinda Munson
Assemblymember Reba Hylton presented her first resolution at the Dec. 3 assembly meeting, proposing new testing requirements for travellers to Skagway. A motion to move the resolution to the next assembly meeting passed with a vote of four to two, with Hylton and Assemblymember Dustin Stone voting against the delay.
Resolution 20-44R would require travellers to Skagway to be tested twice for COVID-19 or “follow strict social distancing” for 14 days.
Most of the assembly members who voted to hold off on the legislation made it clear they support testing for Skagway arrivals but wanted more time for public comment and to work on the resolution’s wording. Assemblymember Steve Burnham expressed concern the resolution might unintentionally hamper efforts of the Skagway Emergency Operations Center.
The resolution was originally scheduled to be heard at a Public Safety Committee meeting which was cancelled due to severe weather.
In its draft state, 20-44R would require travellers to take a molecular COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entering Skagway, then test again within five to seven days of arrival. Those who do not test before reaching Skagway should schedule a test within 48 hours of disembarkment and undergo a second test within five to seven days of arrival.
Social distancing would be required until a second negative test result is confirmed. Individuals not wishing to be tested would be asked to social distance for 14 days.
Hylton does not want to add any legal ramifications to the resolution.
“I see it as a solid foundation, a firm statement and acknowledgment that Skagway takes the health of our residents seriously and visitors need to act responsibly while in our community,” she said.
Several public testimonies and letters to the assembly were in favor of strict guidelines for Skagway arrivals, including Annie Matsov who noted that Alaska’s hospitals were in the red zone. According to the Anchorage Daily News, there were only five adult ICU beds available in Anchorage as of Dec.4.
“Please consider requiring a quarantine period, in keeping with the latest CDC recommendations, to help protect this town,” Matsov wrote.
No correspondence or public testimony presented at the Dec. 3 meeting opposed the resolution.
In closing remarks, Stone expressed frustration with the outcome.
“I’m especially disappointed that anybody at this table would actively work to undermine, sabotage or delay this issue,” he said.
Resolution 20-44R was assigned to the next Health, Education and Welfare Committee meeting, held on Dec. 9, and added to the Dec. 17 assembly agenda. Visit https://www.skagway.org for the most up to date version of the proposed resolution.