State of Alaska
Resources from the Office of Governor Mike Dunleavy, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, and Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
On 10 February, the State of Alaska published revised vaccine eligibility guidance, which can be found here: http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/VaccineAvailability.aspx. As Phase 1b, Tier 2 opens, more Critical Infrastructure workers we be eligible to receive vaccine. Concurrently, the State opened vaccination to non-resident workers, with additional guidance provider thorough a letter (linked below) from the Governor’s Chief of Staff and the Commissioner of Dept. of Health and Social Services. All CI employers should incorporate these changes and guidance into their plans for vaccination of their workforce. Additionally, while not yet required, it is recommended that CI employers provide their workers with appropriate documentation to prove their eligibility to receive vaccine from a registered provider. A possible template for CI Employee Letters is also linked below.
On 12 January, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released an Order titled “Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States,” which will go into effect on Tuesday, 26 January 2021.
The order requires all airline passengers arriving to the United States directly from a foreign airport to have documented negative COVID-19 test results prior to boarding the aircraft. The requirement has been placed on the airline to screen passengers prior to boarding to ensure that they meet this requirement.
There will be no immediate change to the State of Alaska COVID-19 Outbreak Health Order No. 6 (International and Interstate Travel) as a result of this new CDC Order, as the Federal requirement is additional and does not conflict with or over-ride the State Health Order.
Private sector businesses and public agencies which are part of our Critical Infrastructure workforce should be aware of several considerations regarding the CDC Order:
When an individual is identified as a close contact of a confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), they should quarantine for 14 days to reduce the risk of spreading the virus should they become infected. Based on the available evidence, this is the safest course of action.
However, critical infrastructure workers may be able to work during their quarantine period if their organization would be unable to maintain operations safely without them. Allowing exposed individuals to continue work carries inherent risk, and should only be done as a last resort to maintain the continuity of essential services. Close Contact Quarantine is different and more critical than Entry Travel Quarantine, when it is not known whether or not someone has been exposed. Allowing a CI worker to continue working during Close Contact Quarantine should be determined on a case-by-case basis, not a blanket policy from the employer’s CWPP.
When determining whether or not an individual is allowed to work during quarantine the following should be considered:
Close contacts who have to continue working should adhere to the following practices:
Additional guidance is provided here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/critical-workers/implementing-safety-practices.html
Two other points:
If you have any questions, please call the Alaska Section of Epidemiology at 907-269-8000.
All Critical Infrastructure businesses with workers arriving to the State are still required under COVID-19 Outbreak Health Orders to develop and submit a Community/Workforce Protective Plan (CWPP) to the Unified Command for review. Additionally, all private sector businesses, whether Essential Services/Critical Infrastructure or non-essential/non-critical, with workers traveling between Alaskan communities off of highway and Alaska Marine Highway systems are still required under COVID-19 Outbreak Health Orders to develop and submit a CWPP to the Unified Command for review. Protective Plans can be submitted to email@example.com. Visit the State website at https://covid19.alaska.gov/unified-command/protective-plans for guidance on developing Protective Plans.
DHSS is working closely with DEED, superintendents, school districts, and teachers to protect students and staff from COVID-19, while assuring that kids continue to receive an excellent education. As is true for other essential critical infrastructure domains, the school setting is unique in many ways that necessitate a tailored strategy for dealing with COVID-19 cases and outbreaks. Detailed DHSS school-specific COVID-19 guidance is available here.
Workers arriving to the State to work in shore-based seafood processing plants, processor vessels and larger catcher-processor vessels must continue to follow the requirements of Appendix 01 to Health Order 5. Seafood processing workers are not permitted to shorten or modify quarantine using a test-based strategy.
Seafood processing companies are encouraged to read and incorporate the new CDC guidance on Protecting Seafood Processing Workers from COVID-19, available here.
Vessel crews arriving to the State must continue to follow the requirements of Appendix 02 to Health Order 5. Vessel crewmembers may begin work during their quarantine period under the protective measures enacted by the Health Order but, are not permitted to shorten or modify quarantine using a test-based strategy. Testing is not required for vessel crewmembers, but it is highly recommended that all crewmembers be tested prior to joining a vessel, in order to avoid potential spread among the rest of the crew.
Independent harvesters, such as setnetters, arriving to the State must continue to follow the requirements of Appendix 03 to Health Order 5. Harvesters may begin work during their quarantine period under the protective measures enacted by the Health Order, but are not permitted to shorten or modify quarantine using a test-based strategy.
Charter fishing operations which have staff arriving to the State or moving between Alaskan communities are required to submit Community/Workforce Protective Plans to the Unified Command for review. The Charter or Lodge CWPP must meet or exceed the travel, testing and on-site protective measures required of harvester sites in Appendix 03 to COVID-19 Outbreak Health Order 05. The employees of a charter fishing operation or lodge are considered Critical Infrastructure workers and must follow the employer’s submitted CWPP. The clients arriving to the lodge or charter operation from out-of-State are not considered Critical Infrastructure workers and must follow the guidance for non-essential travelers in COVID-19 Outbreak Health Order 06 – Interstate Travel.
Critical Infrastructure businesses must continue to follow the CWPP which they have submitted to the Unified Command for review. If companies intend to shorten or modify employees’ quarantine using a test-based strategy, they must revise their CWPP to reflect that they are choosing to accept the risk of doing so. Company leaders should bear in mind that the most effective protective measure currently available is a full 14-day quarantine. No currently available test or screening procedure is guaranteed, so shortening or modifying quarantine or allowing employees to work during quarantine carries inherent risks. Due to this, it is highly recommended that companies do not use a test-based strategy to shorten or modify quarantine for arriving workers who will be living or working in close proximity to others or sharing facilities such as dining and bathrooms.
The requirement for companies to submit their Community/Workforce Protective Plan to the Alaska Unified Command is only for private sector businesses. The expectation is that all Federal, State, local and tribal government entities are establishing internal policies for travel and quarantine, but they are not required to submit those policies to the Unified Command. Some government agencies have developed protective plans which they are directing their contractors to follow. For example, all summer road construction crews are directed by the Alaska Department of Transportation to follow the AKDOT protective plan. If contracted companies have not been directed to follow a plan developed by the government agency that they are contracted with, they must develop and submit their own plan if they have workers arriving to the State or moving between Alaskan communities.
In addition to Travel and Quarantine procedures, there have been many questions regarding the process for CI Workers to receive PCR tests upon arrival to the State. Critical Infrastructure businesses that need to have their arriving workers tested, either in accordance with their own CWPP or to comply with Health Orders 5, 6 and 8, must establish their own testing process through a local clinic or contracted medical service.
Critical Infrastructure businesses that plan to have arriving workers tested at the Capstone site at TSAIA are encouraged to pre-register with Capstone using the form available at: https://www.capstoneclinic.com/project/critical-infrastructure-employer/. Their company will then be available for selection in the drop-down menu of the Capstone registration app at https://app.kelvin.care/. This will also allow employers to register a Designated Employee Representative who is authorized to receive test results on behalf of the employee. Otherwise, the employee must enter their contact information and quarantine location to receive their results personally. All arriving employees must fill out a Traveler Declaration Form. At TSAIA, this must be done electronically, using their own device or the tablets provided by Capstone, prior to going through the screening station. It is incumbent on employers to ensure that their arriving employees know whether or not they are required to test upon arrival, and that they annotate that on their Declaration Form under Option #5. The screening team will not be able to determine this for the traveler. If the traveler is a commercial fishing vessel crewmember, an independent harvester or a wildland firefighter, they should select “Alaska Directed State Activity (Fishing/Firefighters)” from the drop-down menu under “Employer.” For all other Critical Infrastructure workers, if the employer is not available in the drop-down menu under Option #5, the employee should select “AK. Other Critical Infrastructure.” Testing for CI Workers is being conducted at the site on Concourse B, prior to departing the TSA Security area. Testing for all non-essential travelers is being conducted at a different location, outside of the TSA Security area.
Questions regarding Critical Infrastructure travel may be sent to the Unified Command at: firstname.lastname@example.org, with “ATTN: Critical Infrastructure” in the email subject line.
Office of Governor Mike Dunleavy
Contact the Governor’s Office
Department of Health and Social Services
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management