Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at a press conference on May 11, 2020, in the Atwood Building in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Austin McDaniel courtesy Office of the Governor)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at a press conference on May 11, 2020, in the Atwood Building in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Austin McDaniel courtesy Office of the Governor)

PFD checks to go out starting July 1

To help Alaskans get through the economic challenges of the COVID-19, Permanent Fund Dividend payments will go out early starting on July 1, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced in a press conference on Wednesday from Anchorage.

“This has been a difficult situation for everyone,” he said in a press release. “Individual Alaskans have been hurt economically, businesses have been hurt economically. We’re going to do all we can to get that going in the right direction.”

The new payment schedule moves up distribution from Oct. 1 when the checks are usually sent.

“We’re in extraordinary times and we need to make sure the people of Alaska have cash in their hands to help with this economy,” Dunleavy said. “I can’t think of a better time to do it than now.”

Dunleavy made the announcement at the end of the press conference, in which Department of Education and Early Development Commissioner Michael Johnson and University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen spoke about plans to reopen Alaska’s educational system next fall. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink also did a short briefing on current cases.

The public school system plan will focus on three primary areas, Johnson said: conditions of learning, continuity of learning and the capacity that needs to be in place for learning. Those plans are already in development.

“It will be a busy summer. It’s not going to be the normal break for our leaders and planners,” Johnson said.

Information on the plan will be available and weekly planning webinars will be held at www.aklearns.org.

UA President Johnsen said the university’s plan to reopen will be done on a series of phases ranked from most restrictive — the current phase — to least restrictive. The goal is to move into phase c, the middle of the dial, by fall.

“We’re looking forward to employees being back on site, and more public spaces and more public facilities available,” Johnsen said.

Zink announced three new positive cases of COVID-19 in Alaska on Wednesday: one in Anchorage, one in the Northwest Arctic Borough and one in the combined areas of Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula Borough, which the state has grouped together on its coronavirus response website. Of the three total new cases included in Wednesday’s count, two are male and one is female. One is between the ages of 30-39 and two are aged 70-79.

The Anchorage case is an inmate reported on Tuesday at the Anchorage Correctional Center. Cases reported publicly each day reflect the cases that were reported to the state the day before.

There also was one new hospitalization, bringing the total cumulative number of hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic to 44. Recovered cases total 352.

Additionally, two more non-resident cases were identified by the state — both in Anchorage and both seafood workers. There are 12 total non-resident cases in Alaska, seven of which are seafood workers.

As of May 20, 2020, the Permanent Fund Dividend Division has received 671,364 PFD applications and 85 percent of applicants’ eligibility has been determined. The Division estimates nearly 600,000 Alaskans will receive payment on July 1. Because not all applicants will be determined by June 19, 2020, Alaskans may receive payments July 23, Aug. 20 or subsequent months thereafter. The division pays dividends monthly until all eligible Alaskans are paid. For more information, visit https://pfd.alaska.gov/.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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