It’s October, yes, the pandemic is still with us, and at the same time, unfortunately, political optimizers are trying to rewrite history. We all are reading the articles filed under “coronavirus” which bear the dooming words: “The worst surge for Alaska yet.”
Unfortunately, some who care more about scoring political points, and less about the people of Alaska are trying to rewrite history, reinvent the facts as we know — flip the narrative and terribly skew how the pandemic is portrayed. Sadly, these selfish opportunists are in the business of profiting off Alaskans’ misery, disguising their politicization. The reality is that Alaska, starting from the beginning of this pandemic, has handled this pandemic better than most other places, and the facts back this up. Here are the facts:
1. Alaska has the third lowest death rate among U.S. states for COVID-19 associated cases.
2. Alaska early on led the nation in COVID-19 vaccination rates.
3. Alaska put in place mobile vaccination clinics to the unsheltered community.
4. Alaska was one of the first states to distribute monoclonal antibody treatment.
5. Alaska was the first state to open COVID-19 vaccines to anyone 16 or older.
6. Alaska was the first state to ask visitors to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival.
7. Alaska has one of the highest testing rates among states.
8. Our state protected its most vulnerable populations while others did not.
This response to the pandemic has resulted in the third lowest death rate in the nation. While every death weighs heavily upon us all, our numbers demonstrate that our response to the virus is working, and clearly Alaska is doing much better than most other states.
However, we have all heard the words from the naysayers and detractors: It’s not enough. “Enough” is a code word for “vaccine and mask mandates.” In turn, the claims of “not enough” turn quickly into “not caring.” To say our administration, despite doing better than most other states, doesn’t care, is patently false information. Political opportunists care more about spreading political untruths than accepting the facts.
Alaska has in fact defied all the odds and all the predictions. Back in March of 2020, people thought Alaska could be wiped out by the novel coronavirus. There were predictions that our hospitals would collapse. That thousands would die, and we would end up being a case study in what not to do. Despite the current surge affecting the entire world, including both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, Alaska continues to hold its own.
“Yes” the naysayers would say, “Alaska was doing well, but what is the state doing now to meet the challenges of this surge?” The answer is: a lot. Starting this past week, nearly 500 health care workers began making their way up from the Lower 48 to provide relief to our hospitals and give weary Alaska health care workers assistance. This increase in health care workers will dramatically assist with dealing with the current surge in our hospitals. We have also put forth millions of dollars for at-home rapid COVID-19 tests, to provide easy access for households to test family members, keep people in their jobs, and keep Alaska moving forward. We have encouraged and offered free vaccines to Alaskans or anyone visiting Alaska. We have continued to make available supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments throughout the state for those infected looking for treatment. We also have established a COVID-19 hotline open seven days a week, with live people on the other end waiting to assist anyone looking for help.
Ever since that flight landed in Anchorage from Wuhan, China, my administration has focused on protecting Alaskans. As a state, we will continue to do everything we can do to bolster our systems without taking away individual rights. Sadly, this is exactly what some opponents want me to do.
Political opportunists are trying to convince you that my administration is doing little to protect the public health. Again, this is simply false. What they really wish to accomplish is to fool you into believing that somehow this administration can stop the virus dead in its tracks simply by stripping individuals of their rights through forced vaccinations. More than 60% of Alaskans have chosen, on their own, to be vaccinated, and thousands more are electing to be vaccinated every week. They weren’t forced, nor will they be forced by my administration. Unlike some, I don’t view my fellow Alaskans as subjects to be injected through some government dictate. As I have stated repeatedly, there will be no statewide vaccine mandate.
My political opponents wish to rewrite history. We cannot buy into this false narrative that the state is not doing anything for Alaskans. My administration will continue to lead Alaska until we win the fight against this virus. We will ensure that our systems in place are viable and that everyone has access to the tools they need to go on with their everyday lives. We will continue to care for the health and wellbeing of our communities without trampling on individual rights.
So, let’s do our best to focus on reliable sources of information, share useful resources and stop politicizing the pandemic. The facts demonstrate Alaska has done better than most states so far and will continue to defy all odds. We accomplish great things when we work together. Please don’t let those who are trying to profit politically to convince you otherwise.
If you wish to schedule an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine, text your ZIP code to 438829 or call the Alaska Vaccine hot line at 907-646-3322.
Mike Dunleavy is the governor of Alaska.
The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to email@example.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.