Is the Berkowitz shutdown 'flattening the curve' in Anchorage? A ride on the shutdown rollercoaster - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, October 27, 2020
HomePoliticsIs the Berkowitz shutdown ‘flattening the curve’ in Anchorage? A ride on the shutdown rollercoaster

Is the Berkowitz shutdown ‘flattening the curve’ in Anchorage? A ride on the shutdown rollercoaster

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BUSINESSES SAY THEY ARE THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB FOR BAD SCIENCE

Is it working? It has been three weeks since Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s latest Emergency Order 15 went into effect. On Aug 3, he shuttered bars, restaurants, bingo halls, theaters, and churches.

Gatherings indoors are limited to 15 in Anchorage, but people must remain at a distance from each other. Restaurants may serve outdoors and for takeout, and several have created tents outside their establishments, complete with walls, the equivalent of rustic dining rooms with drafty corners.

Gallo’s Mexican Restaurant has a robust but costly solution to the mayor’s indoor dining ban.

Other restrictions and mask mandates are still in effect, hobbling the business community, whilst government work continues unabated and code enforcers comb the city for lawbreakers.

Three weeks later, the change in the number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed per day in Anchorage is somewhat unremarkable.

The trailing average is about 40 new cases a day in Anchorage in each of three-week increments since Aug. 1.

That’s six per day less than the three weeks prior to Aug. 1 (if one removes the one day spike when 152 cases were diagnosed in Anchorage on July 25, which reflects an outbreak at Copper River Seafoods.)

But the decline had already begun in late July, before the emergency order went into effect.

It’s even more striking if you look at the 7-day central moving average for positive tests, shown in the chart below. That average is taken three days before and three days after a point in time, to show more of a rolling average for positive tests:

These charts show that there’s a roller coaster effect with this virus, but do not indicate that the complete shutdown of the Anchorage economy in March slowed the spread.

The mayor briefly opened up the economy in June and July, only to once again close some venues for the entire month of August, primarily hitting restaurants and bars. By the time he decreed EO 15, the cases were dropping.

The mayor has been concerned that the hospitals would become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, but the data shows that the number of actual beds occupied by these patients is relatively stable and low, currently at 41.

Since March 3, only 198 Alaskans have been hospitalized with the illness — some of them had other conditions that complicated their health, such as heart disease, age, diabetes, or asthma.

The COVID-19 patients are the red lines in these charts:

Mayor Berkowitz has hammered home time and again that he is following the science. The mask mandate is one of those science-driven laws that some say has no science behind it at all and others say may help a little bit at least.

Yet on Friday, he predicted that his mandates would continue in some fashion, although he would not say what he plans to do next week when EO 15 expires.

“I’m going to impose upon you for many more months,” Berkowitz said.

“When we get to the end of the month, we’re going to do something different than what we’re doing today,”  the mayor also said.

As Anchorage heads into the chilly fall season, it’s going to be harder for restaurants to provide outdoor dining. On Sept. 15, the daily maximum average temperature is between 53-57 degrees. The minimum temperature in Anchorage is between 39 and 45 degrees.

Some business owners who were shut down on Aug. 3 say they have been sacrificial lambs for no good reason.

“If we were the culprits in the rise of COVID,’ there would have been a sharp drop in the numbers about 10 to 14 days after the shutdown,” said Sandy Powers of Tudor Bingo. “This did not happen. The bars, restaurants, theaters, bingo halls, and churches are paying a massive price. Our employees are struggling, businesses are struggling, and somehow we are supposed to feel like we are a shield protecting the city. It is devastating to all of us.”

At Tudor Bingo, the gaming site has 12,000 square feet and between 100-120 people are in the building at a time, generally seated to play the game. None of the bingo halls have been a site of an outbreak.

“The burden is becoming too great to bear,” said Powers.

Other business owners said it’s the big stores that remain open that are more likely to be places spreading the virus, but are not paying the price that small operators are paying.

WHAT TO MAKE OF THE DATA?

Alaska has been under a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 11. Since that time, there have been 31 deaths attributed to COVID-19 among Alaskans, or about one death every five and a half days. The deaths have been primarily among old or infirm individuals. Some of those deaths are disputed by people who were close to the situation.

The data could very well show that by completely shutting down the economy, the government can, in fact, drive down the number of infections. But it’s a temporary fix, because every time the economy opens back up, infections eventually follow. And no government has yet said what “flat” is or when masks can come off, frustrating business owners and causing many of them to fold.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Total illogical BS that claims you have any control over the spread of a virus in a human population is like trying to claim you can control the weather. This shutdown is of no value what so ever, it only serves to destroy lives, not save them.

  • Positive tests do not mean active cases. A definite confirmed case of illness has symptoms! I’m really tired of this narrative the media is spinning! Is no one else questioning the narrative? The media went from deaths to cases. Has this slipped by every one? They changed the narrative to continue this game of compliance. Those who don’t question this are like frogs in water that are slowly being boiled to death and never realize what’s happened.

    • Yup.

    • Well said Sheryl and I completely agree !

      This little delusional man who continues to destroy peoples lives for absolutely no logical or data backed reasoning will experience the swift hand of Karma…

      What’s really sad & pathetic is that his swollen, little power hungry skull just won’t allow him to comprehend it.

      Karma will get him.

    • It would be nice to know how may people died from the flu last year. Oh wait no one knows that because we have never watched any virus this close

      • 34,200

  • Berkowitz is flexing his mussels and following the Democratic line. Create a problem then offer a solution that paralizes the economy and makes people suffer. Think he cares about you? Think again. The solution is resist.

  • He’s trying to make people miserable in the hope they blame Trump for the election. Is that not obvious to everyone?

    • That actually makes no sense. Why would he want to make people miserable before his OWN election? FYI there are like 8 people running for mayor rn

  • Close all municipal offices and cancel all pending paychecks, including future retroactive pay, and send employees home until this is over. After all, we have to keep people safe.

  • Mayor Berkowitz has declared the United States a ‘failed state’ under President Trump. I guess he wasn’t paying attention under President Obama.

    I wonder if Mr. Mayor has the courage to look in the mirror and realize that the private sector in Anchorage has been destroyed by his policies.

    • The US was doing great under President Obama, but I guess you weren’t paying attention to that either. President Trump took us from a strong economy that Obama left us with, all he had to do was not screw it up and well. Here we are..

      • LOL you are so screwed up!

      • You’re funny….🤣😂😆😂🤣😂😆🤔🤯

      • Totally Agree!!

  • Lockdown alaska but open everything up inside. Cut us off from the lower states until the vaccines arrive. We were in good shape until the seafood workers arrived.

    • Are you advocating for a wall around Alaska?

      • That’s what Nome did in 1918 and was the only village to not get wiped out.

    • How did the make it worse? Did more people die? Nope.
      Positive cases don’t mean death or even sickness. Why has the narrative been allowed to change from deaths to positives?

      • The ‘narrative’ has only changed for people not actually looking at the numbers. Too much Fox/MSNBC? Maybe try looking at the data dude

    • Ik we have the constitution and all that, but I kinda wish we could cut AK off for awhile

  • Of all the people I’d look to for an objective and informed science based response, one of them is not Berkowitz; He’s an inextricable component of this disaster.

    He’s postponing the inevitable and wreaking havoc in the interim. Never let an idiot borrow authority.

    F. Ethan Berkowitz. Anchorage will be a better place when the dwarf and his pedestrian killing wife are gone.

    • By all means please kindly explain your plan of action and all the steps that you will implement to stop or slow the spread. The only thing I read in your comment is you insulting somebody in a position that has to make a hard decision that regardless of what he does is going to make somebody unhappy. Again, feel free to post your plan of action; let’s see how well you would do in that same situation.

      • You can’t stop the spread. Newsflash. Everyone who is going to get it will get it. Herd immunity is real. Sweden is done and over covid-19. All we do is prolong it.
        And studies from just last week show the T-cells from SARS of 17 years ago are destroying the SARS covid-19 Virus. That’s why so many more people are asymptomatic. That’s not scary, that’s good. The WHO admitted again that asymptomatic cases do NOT pass it to another host.

      • Here’s my detailed plan:

        Suggest that those that would like to avoid getting this particular flu sequester themselves if they feel that’s best for them. That group as well as everyone else may take responsibility for themselves, masks suggested for those so inclined.

        Closing the economy to postpone the inevitable is a fool’s errand and fits in lockstep with several of the other nonsensical and disruptive ideas Berkowitz has attempted to sneak into general acceptance.

        Berkowitz as mayor of Anchorage will be remembered as a catastrophic failure and rightfully so.

        Also note that slowing the spread of a viral infection doesn’t add value to the general population. Eventual exposure will be comprehensive and if you’re among the old/fat/weak/co-morbidities group you will most definitely be exposed if you sport around with a mask on and those of us that aren’t of that group are not responsible for your health. That’s where this mistake comes into serious focus as it’s the only issue that so far 99.996 percent of the population hasn’t had an issue with yet 100% are being treated as if we harbor Justinian’s Flea.

        As a point of order note that you don’t need to repeat yourself amongst this readership. With rare exceptions we understand your question the first time you write it and repeating the exact same thing two sentences later does not add depth to your query. When you feel compelled to say “again”, stop typing.

  • Back in March you had a story about MDs concerned about a fall off in other disease diagnoses. Any chance of a follow up? Seems your story got the GOV to change the rules back then.

  • Unfortunately there is no way to know what would have been if the Mayor did not institute his mandates.
    Re masks, they very well might be with us for a long time into the future. Seems like the mask, the social distancing and washing ones hand often are very easy and very simple requests. Very easy to do to protect others who will be doing the same to protect you. And necessary to keep the virus from spreading. It takes everyone doing these simple things though. We are in this together and together we need to keep everyone safe. Thanks for doing your part!

    • Well said Sandy. If everyone did their part the economy would not be closed. Seems to me that it is easy to find a scapegoat when you or someone you love hasn’t died from covid. This virus doesn’t care if you are Republican or democrat. It would be nice if people stopped politicizing the pandemic.

      • You are absolutely correct. Here in Florida everything is open and people wear masks and the numbers are going down. Those who don’t wear masks get the stink eye from all the rest of us and they either leave the establishment her go find a damn mask.

    • Thank you Sandy. Finally a voice of reason.

  • I’m still trying to get an answer from the mayor’s office to give me the name of ONE restaurant that’s been a hotspot. No response. So what does that tell me? There are none. Stupid, illogical and devastating to small restaurants. And so wrong on so many levels. No good sense or judgement there.

  • He’s one of many socialists masquerading as a Democrat for the appearance of legitimacy. Their end game is to destroy the middle class, law enforcement, cities and states, and to cut man off from God. We are seeing it all over the U.S. Give them what they want, or they will destroy you. The mayor’s cabal in the Assembly wear the same uniforms and have the same goals.

    I hope and prayArchbishop Bellisario will wake up and take a stand against the madness. May God have mercy on us all!

    • Summer, the failure of the various religious “leaders” to push back against this First Amendment overreach is very troubling. Where are they–except for Anchorage Baptist Temple? Crickets.

      • Anchorage grace Christian church has implemented a biblical approach to this issue regarding first amendment over reach by our elected officials.They have done extensive research regarding what’s safe and what the legal ramifications could be. Yes they will abide by these mandates right now however they are researching and prayerfully preparing for when they have to take a stand on this issue. As far as I know they are exploring the possibility of continuing to meet outside of city limits at some point in the future.

  • There is absolutely no science that supports a lockdown as a positive approach to the Wuhan Flu. Before Feb, there was 15 solid years of peer reviewed science available from the CDC that argued against a shutdown. Like Suzanne noted in the last paragraph, all a lockdown does (other than destroy small businesses) is shove infections to the right.

    The mayoral election next April will be most interesting. As the Assembly is supposedly holding Ethan’s leash, a recall of 4-5 of them in the same election would be an appropriate response. Cheers –

  • Sweden’s total deaths have gone up 10% this year. The vast majority of those who died, were over the age of 82. 82 is the average lifespan in Sweden. In other words, those who died, had already lived longer than the average Swede. Each loss is a tragedy, but this has always been a question of what response was appropriate. Protecting the vulnerable, and letting the rest of your population get on with life with reasonable precautions, seems to have made the most sense. Unfortunately, you can usually tell by the political party who is going to treat it that way, and be responsible, or who is going to weaponize it.

    • You really need to stop watching CNN. The death rate by age here in Florida is not limited to old people. This thing is killed Young teen middle-aged and old people but mostly not old people buy a majority because they know they’re susceptible and I’ve taken necessary precautions to stay healthy.

  • It’s working down here in Florida. I went to Walmart today and I didn’t see a single person that wasn’t wearing a mask. Had to send some people home first day of school teachers and kids from being exposed and I read that that 9 year old girl died who had no no no underlying medical conditions. Alaska is fortunate because people are so spread out. Even Anchorage and Fairbanks have unlimited population and herd immunity has a chance to do its thing.

  • Great piece. I hadn’t bother to look at the trends lately other than to note it’s declining but now It’s clear the peak was towards the end of July, prior to the current shutdown. Hard to justify the shutdown looking at data. So what caused the peak? What occur in mid July? I know from my posts on Facebook at mid July that the increasing disease rate was clear and would probably continue. I took the only actions I could and I recommended masks be worn and avoidance of crowds. If many people came to the same conclusion maybe that’s why two weeks later, the disease rate peaked. Coincidence? It sure wasn’t a economic shutdown.

  • But the churches have NOT been complying and no one has been enforcing their mandatory closure! They are super spreaders that just keep getting away with trying to kill off their congregations!! Close the bars and the churches and limit the size of gatherings and you will probably see a real drop in cases. Restaurants are much less a problem than bars and churches. Though it appears to me that the average number of cases is currently nearly 20/day less than in late July in Anchorage. Deaths statewide have definitely increased as a result of the rise in cases in July. This is uncharted territory. Mayor Berkowitz is doing the best he can to protect the people of Anchorage from illness and death. Nothing is perfect. But we KNOW bars and churches are spreaders and masks prevent transmission. Enforce those closures and put some teeth in the mask mandate ($100 fine) and cases will drop.

    • No, we don’t KNOW anything of the sort. There is no credible scientific evidence, after months and months of trying, to support universal masks to prevent community spread of any viral respiratory disease. The people in the spotlight have insisted “it might help” for so long now that some appear to believe it’s a fact, but it is not.
      And if the open churches in Anchorage were “super-spreaders” you can be sure the details would be all over the news (with more than vague blame-casting). Yet we do not have people dying in the pews, either here or in the Mat-Su where many of us are going to worship because of the hostility to formal adherence to God’s laws that festers here in Anchorage.
      And the death rate is still 0.0067 of cases (32/4741 as of 8/22) – that’s barely more than half a percent. In fact the actual fatality rate is almost certainly even lower, as there are undoubtedly more cases since around 80% of people infected have no symptoms and therefore won’t get tested. On top of that, the testing positivity rate has remained between 1.5% and 2.5% since early July; it’s 1.74% as of 8/22. It’s ridiculous to call that a “rapid rise” of infections.
      And again, why are we tracking “cases” when 80% of people have to get tested to even know they have the virus and 98-99% of people recover? For the same reason they’re still pushing masks after the “emergency,” if there ever was one, is long over: because big numbers and muzzled people reinforce a power play over what is basically a flu that most folks would just forget about if they weren’t constantly reminded to be afraid.
      The government has no valid authority to dictate that healthy people wear masks, or when or where people worship. What possible reason would pastors have for “trying to kill off their congregations?!” Like many others have said, we need more prayer not less!

    • What are you talking about? Bars have been closed. Twice now. Restaurants too.

  • Total BS.He’s bankrupting his tax base : small business, while helping homeless who pay no taxes, 90% of businesses he closed will never reopen, schools he closed has suffered massive unenrollment, loading more money, the dude is total idiot with no common sense.

  • Read this article childrenshealthdefense.org/news/if-covid-fatalities-were-90-2-lower-how-would-you-feel-about-schools-reopening/ Pick it apart if you can and note that this comes from a left of center organization run by a lifelong Democrat.

  • Please explain why the USA has, by far, been the worst impacted of all developed countries. One rule: you cannot use the words “fake news.”

  • What I’ve found odd is that in the lower 48, especially Wash. Oregon, and Calif., is that they have these huge protests and no spreading seems to occur. We have hundreds protesting shoulder to shoulder, front to back. Many running and breathing hard, and sweating. No social distancing, I don’t think they wash their hands. They do wear masks but I feel this is more for identity concealment than health issues. No testing for rioters so maybe this is why we have no numbers and spreading. Oh well, maybe the smoke from the burning police cars and buildings kill the virus germs.

  • The little guy is flattening something but I think the ‘curve’ is nonsense. Nationally, 3 people out of 100,000 are hospitalized with wuhan v. Of those, virtually all recover that do not have previous serious health risks. Wuhan v may exacerbate existing medical problems enough that, together, they are fatal. .003% actually die from/with wuhan v. I say, what curve? Every ‘positive’ test and then some is called a new case, for sensational tv and the ‘lockdown count’. Every death in America is somehow called a result of wuhan v. There is the curve. Not some imaginary line drawn on a blackboard that is based on false, misleading, imaginary evidence. Little guy’s “curve” will never flatten. Not when even a common cold ‘tests’ positive.
    With no curve to flatten, he will promote it anyway. Make everyone wear masks that do not work. Force small and many large businesses out of business, many forever. Not to protect from a virus that is more lethal than a cold, but less lethal than the flu. Control and subjugation of Alaskans is the “curve” being promoted and wuhan v the cause, as related by berkowitz and party. No flattening there. It will get worse before it gets better.
    Hard to say where help could or would come from for Alaska in this short term. It looks like we can only depend on ourselves to protect our homes, the one we live in, Alaska and America. We must hold it together until we can get to the voting booth.

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