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Latest Alaska news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. AKDT

Latest Alaska news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. AKDT
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 3:23 AM AKDT
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VIRUS OUTBREAK-ALASKA-LAWSUIT

Alaska judge hears arguments in virus relief aid case

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A state court judge has heard arguments over whether to block disbursement of federal coronavirus relief aid to small businesses under a reinterpretation of program rules by Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration. Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg did not immediately rule after Thursday's hearing. The request is part of a lawsuit brought by Juneau resident Eric Forrer, who asked Pallenberg to hold the administration to the rules it proposed and lawmakers ratified. The state has sought to expand those rules as a way to provide additional aid to businesses. Attorneys for the state say Forrer lacks standing in the case.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VALDEZ MASKS

Valdez joins Alaska communities mandating face coverings

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The city of Valdez has mandated the use of face coverings in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The City Council passed the rule for all indoor areas outside the home where social distancing cannot be maintained, including public transportation, taxis and ride sharing services. The rule expected to go into effect Friday requires protective masks or cloth facial coverings, which include homemade masks, bandanas, scarfs, and handkerchiefs. There are exceptions for people with health concerns, children under 5 years old, children over 5 while at school, and people with disabilities that prevent them from wearing masks.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SITKA TESTS

Health consortium to offer free virus testing in Alaska city

SITKA, Alaska (AP) — All residents of an Alaska city will be offered free coronavirus screening tests to help prevent the spread of the illness. The Daily Sitka Sentinel reported the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium announced it will provide tests to everyone living in Sitka regardless of whether they exhibit symptoms. Free testing by self-swab nasal collection will be available Saturdays and Sundays at a drive-up testing center. The testing has been funded through a grant from the U.S. Indian Health Service. The consortium plans to offer additional testing in other Southeast Alaska communities beginning later this month.

CAPSIZED BOAT

1 person dies, 2 rescued after boat capsizes near Homer

HOMER, Alaska (AP) — Officials say one person died and two others were rescued after their boat capsized near Homer. Harbor officials say a 14-foot skiff carrying three people overturned near Gull Island in the mouth of a bay popular for salmon dipnetting. Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins says tide currents and winds can make traveling in the area dangerous. The Homer News reports that boats in the area responded to the scene. Lt. Ryan Browning of the Homer Police Department confirmed the one man who was taken to a hospital later died.

FAIR CANCELED

Kenai Peninsula Fair canceled due to coronavirus concerns

KENAI, Alaska (AP) — The Kenai Peninsula Fair scheduled for Aug. 14-16 has been canceled due to safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, its board of directors announced on Facebook. The Peninsula Clarion reported Monday that the annual fair in Ninilchik, about 187 miles away from Anchorage, will resume in 2021. While the board voted unanimously to cancel the fair this year, the rodeo that traditionally happens in conjunction operates independently and is scheduled to continue. The board’s president, Jim Stearns, stressed that a major consideration was an outbreak in Seward, where cases have doubled in the last month.

RAVNAIR-BANKRUPTCY SALE

RavnAir Group begins selling planes as part of auction

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska aviation companies bought dozens of planes sold at auction by RavnAir Group, three months after the regional carrier filed for federal bankruptcy protection. Alaska's Energy Desk reports the company, at auction Tuesday, sold planes to Grant Aviation, Yute Commuter Service, Wright Air Service and ACE Air Cargo. The auction was expected to continue Wednesday with the company’s largest planes and operating certificates. A federal bankruptcy judge still must approve the winning bids. RavnAir Group, in seeking bankruptcy protection, cited a steep drop in bookings and revenue associated with the coronavirus pandemic.