Democrats in Alaska’s Legislature expressed disappointment that the year-long state disaster declaration was ended on Friday by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. They said so in a press release and on Twitter late Friday.
“With thousands of potentially unvaccinated individuals traveling to Alaska and many unknowns about the impacts of COVID-19 variants, I pray this decision will not have disastrous consequences,” said Rep. Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham), adding he was ” dumbfounded by a unilateral move to eliminate tools we may need during a busy tourism and fishing season that will attract thousands of visitors.” Others, such as Rep. Liz Snyder and Rep. Zack Fields echoed the sentiment.
Even the Republican crossover Speaker Louise Stutes of Kodiak said she was unhappy with Gov. Mike Dunleavy ending the emergency, saying that he “opted for politics over policy and decided to gamble with the health of Alaskans and with our economic recovery.”
Also last week, the Anchorage Assembly voted for a surprise ordinance to remove nearly all restrictions on Anchorage residents, a move seen as a political “Hail Mary” for mayoral candidate Forrest Dunbar. There was no outcry from Anchorage Democrat legislators. The move ended restrictions for gatherings and businesses.
The Democrats are following the fearful scenario set forth by Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, who with academic friends from Stanford University and other organizations last year predicted that 35,000 Alaskans would die of Covid-19 by fall of 2020. The information he provided has been used to craft policy in Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks. About 350 Alaskans have died from Covid, according to official records.
According to Rep. Fields of Anchorage, “Good news: We’ve captured federal Covid SNAP relief. Bad news: Gov nixing declaration means no mandatory testing for incoming travelers, increasing risk of dangerous variants.”