Berkowitz’s face mask policy based on misunderstood ‘Hong Kong hamster’ study


Who is advising Mayor Ethan Berkowitz these days?

If you guessed Hong Kong Hamsters, you’re right. 

The Anchorage mayor said that a recent study in Hong Kong showed that hamsters with face masks were less likely to infect each other with the coronavirus.

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has repeated A phrase that he is following the science and the data, not the calendar, in making decisions about when to allow Anchorage businesses to operate. He has Anchorage on semi-lockdown until Monday morning, but even when it opens, there will be rules, he said, not mere guidelines.

In his press announcement on Friday, he cited the study saying that the hamsters infected each other a lot less when using face masks.

The problem is the 52 hamsters in the study were not actually wearing the face masks. The researchers were using face masks as room dividers as they blew virus from one cage to another.

But that’s not how Berkowitz read the study.

According to Slate magazine, “Hamsters might reasonably use surgical masks as room dividers to slow the spread of the coronavirus, some unpublished research suggests. That is the real takeaway from a study that has gone a little viral, as studies are wont to do in this age of the coronavirus.

“Hong Kong University microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung first described his work to news outlets in Asia on Sunday. Fifty-two hamsters reportedly participated. Yuen and his team housed the hamsters in a series of cages, infecting the residents of half with the coronavirus (yes, a paper in review suggests hamsters can get the coronavirus). The researchers paired infected cages with uninfected cages, putting each side by side, explains the South China Morning Post. In one scenario, the infected hamsters had masks shielding their cages “as if they were wearing a mask,” as a Radio Television Hong Kong story put it. In another scenario, the masks were on the cages of uninfected hamsters. Cages in a control scenario had no mask dividers at all. Fans blew air between the cages, to help the virus travel.”


    • Great question…..people are wearing the same mask over and over shoving it in pockets, glove boxes, car consoles, sitting on it in the car . You are wearing a Petri Dish strapped to your face. The actual scientific studies are at best inconclusive certainly not instructive enough to be fall on your sword dogmatic about. Let’s give each other a break, its hard enough as it is

  1. The phrase, “You can’t make this up!” comes to mind as I read this article. So our Mayor of Anchorage turns to Hong Kong, China to determine how to keep our fair city safe. The fact that he relies on a study conducted on hamsters is a comedy sketch that is as absurd as it sounds. I pray those who have some common sense will realize we must get up and out to vote to rid ourselves of this type of leadership in the coming city, state, and national elections! Please!

  2. Thankfully isn’t the mayor termed out. The scary thing is that he might run for a statewide office. Can you imagine him as governor or a senator or congressman? What a scary thought. Hopefully Alaskans will not forget his treatment of people during this pandemic. He has been drunk with power and could not care less about us. It is all about his power grab!

    • The Muni Assembly, minus one, backs Berkowitz up 100%. 95% of crime in Anchorage can be attributed to drugs and alcohol. The marijuana industry has become the signature industry for Anchorage, thanks in part to Ethan Berkowitz, Halcro, Flynn, Traini, Peterson, and the Assembly. Anchorage is being destroyed from within. Berkowitz wants to me the next governor and Forrest Dunbar wants to be the next Mayor, the reason for vote-early, vote-often and vote by mail!!! I have no hamster jokes.

  3. This has been the rub with the Muni from the outset: They claim to be “following the science” but are opaque as to what that science might be. Obviously, if the science is subject to examination, opinion will arise as to the validity and relevance of the hamsters — I mean science. Alaska has the lowest “R-naught” of any state. The Muni policies are simply not reflective of reality. Let our people go Mr. Mayor.

    • Berkowitz doesn’t like Dunleavy and doesn’t want to be seen following what the state does; do we all suffer

  4. I’ll bet little Berky wrote his thesis on himself, if he wrote one. China and other foreign cities and countries are not the only entities that coach and mentor him. He is a Democrat. All the Democrat minions in America parrot the same nonsense and have the same political goals, at any cost. It’s like some elitist cult, the top of the Democrat “cream”. One thing you must recognize. They have unity. They stick together like super glue and skin. All have the same talking points, agenda and incessant thirst for power over others. All is fair in their political wars and desperation to achieve any degree of that power. The more, the better, for them. The worse for ‘commoners’ like you and me.
    The power of the physical (not mail in) vote will rid Alaska and the rest of America of this leftist plague, if only conservatives and common sense Americans vote.
    Remember in November.

  5. The times I’ve seen little Ethan on tv with a mask on his face, he’s wearing it wrong with his nose exposed.

    Gotta laugh.

  6. Seriously, how do we recall this tool? He must go before he inflicts even more damage. 1 in 6 business’ have said they’re either not reopening or are in grave danger of not reopening.

  7. So is there any Wu-Flu countermeasure that won’t get turned into a political football to beat the “liberals”? Masks are bigger than the Anchorage Mayor and hamsters.


    This is scarcely different than the idiotic Gretchen Whitmer deciding hydrochloroquine was bad because Trump suggested it. Berkowitz is an overreaching little turd. He should get in line behind the Governor, who I believe is still recommending masks, while purchasing and requiring State workers to use them.


    Now everyone out of the clown car.

  8. Oh ha ha ha. You do not need any study to exercise simple common sense. The effectiveness of mask wearing in general is as a ‘shield’ or ‘deflector’ lessening droplets from entering the air, when then does indeed lessen airborne ‘viral load’. Your hand, a scarf, your t-shirt, a tissue, even a frisbee, can function much the same way, but a mask is tidier, and more consistent. It really is a proverbial ‘no-brainer’ and I find it laughable that so many feel the need to turn to stupid studies for guidance. Social distancing is effective and covering part of your face is as well especially when social distancing is difficult.

    • Elizabeth,
      I don’t know about those “studies” either. Common sense should be the common denominator. It’s not. Wearing masks to prevent Wuhan v is like wearing sandals to keep your feet dry. Imperfect reasoning, at best. Masks do not seal the face and eyes. They leak air. ‘Social distancing’? I have a little more respect for it, but c’mon. That is up to the individuals involved. If someone is too close for you, move away. If that doesn’t work, run away. You can call the “mask police” while you are running. Wuhan v, mask or no mask, will find a way to infect you if it is going to. Odds are still on your side, by a tremendous margin. Concentrate on making yourself healthy for defense, not depending on a piece of paper material or rag wrapped around your face to protect you.
      We don’t need leftist nannies. At least I don’t and I’m one of the ‘vulnerable’ ones. How about you?

    • Right. Pull your t-shirt up over your mouth and nose, and breathe in and out deeply with your hand in front of your face. Feel the moist hot air? (Yes, a lot of hot air…)
      Like my husband says, “Thinking a cloth mask will save you from my breath is like thinking my underwear will save you from my farts.”
      Seriously, masks do little to no good, yet they can cause harm and even increase the risk of infection. Trying to breathe with an obstructed airway is unhealthy; it is harder to breath with your mouth and nose covered. Cloth coverings also create an unnaturally moist and toxic microenvironment around the nose and mouth, and force exhalation – your body’s waste – back into your lungs and past your eyes and/or ears, then out into your surroundings. Not only is this apparent to those who have to wear a mask, but science bears it out.
      For those that *do* want to “follow the science” (not the hamster kind), the most pertinent study, published in 2015, concluded: “This study is the first RCT of cloth masks, and the results caution against the use of cloth masks… Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection,” and “the finding of a much higher rate of infection in the cloth mask arm could be interpreted as harm caused by cloth masks…” (This study was a large randomized clinical trial (RCT), the first ever conducted of cloth masks. Plus, being forced to cover your face in public and being surrounded by masked people is also psychologically unhealthy, especially for children.

  9. Our San Francisco Treat equates Alaskans with hamsters?

    Maybe hamsters will vote for him?

    Alaskans are not hamsters nor are we sheep.

  10. Where were our masks when we needed them the most at the beginning of the Pandemic; Dec, 31st until now? Was the National Guard handing out masks, hand sanitizer, food or, toilet paper or, was the CDC mailing us out masks/gloves? A resounding, No. It was to each their own. I put my hands on real masks a couple of days ago at the mall & gave them to my children. It is very sad & confusing we had to get our first real mask(s) at the mall. What do you think?

    • I think mistakes and all, this state handled it better than 90% of the other states, and virtually ALL of Europe but maybe one country. So all in, I’m glad we are back, there are things I definitely wish we had done different, but I know we have had a better response than most. The question now is, who do we trust to move us forward and pull us out of it? Those who believe in us, or those that think we can’t be trusted with our own property, let alone safety, and wish to rule instead of govern? Alaskans will decide one or the other and I think the fate of the next decade or more, here very soon.

  11. First of all, using animal models to study highly contagious, potentially lethal diseases is a known scientific, peer-reviewed and approved model.

    Using hamsters is also a known and fully peer-reviewed scientific and approved model.

    Unless you want to volunteer to be studied as you are intentionally infected? I thought not.

    Moving on to your big criticism. Masks as room-dividers. Exactly how are you supposed to get the hamsters to wear masks?

    The study HAD to be set up that way. It was testing to see whether or not the MATERIAL used in a standard surgical mask would work to lessen the transmission. Which it does.

    AND – it was testing to see if SARS-COV-2 is transmitted via aerosols. Which it is.

    Get your head out of the Bible, and learn how to read a scientific study.

Comments are closed.