Democrat Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky of Bethel and Rep. Liz Snyder of East Anchorage signed an op-ed this week in which they posited that since many Alaskans won’t take basic precautions against Covid-19, the governor should declare an emergency in the state. Again.
The Covid politics drumbeat has begun to get louder to try to force Gov. Mike Dunleavy to do what he is loathe to do — mandate that Alaskans get Covid-19 shots, wear masks, and stay home. And the push to force his hand looks partisan, synchronized, and strategically timed to pivot from the Legislature’s failures on the Permanent Fund dividend.
Dunleavy has good marks from the public for finding the middle way on the pandemic — only shutting down the economy long enough for a few brief weeks in 2020 to get the health care infrastructure in place. But now that the Delta variant is the dominant, Democrats, who are all vaccinated, want him to shut things down again.
It started with the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation President and CEO Dan Winkelman sending a letter to Dunleavy asking for public health restrictions to contain the virus’ spread.
Then, his own employee Rep. Zulkosky, along with Rep. Snyder penned their opinion in the always-willing-to-aid-Democrats Anchorage Daily News:
“Don’t fall victim to the governor’s misguided mindset that Alaska’s current situation is inevitable and should be accepted. None of us should be comfortable with a reality in which Alaskans can’t access medical care because many won’t take some basic precautions. The power is in your hands to get vaccinated, mask up, watch your space, and pressure Alaska’s leadership to make the courageous calls when others won’t,” the two wrote.
On Thursday, the same two representatives, who happen to be co-chairs of the House Health and Social Services Committee, will pepper the governor’s top health professionals with questions about why the Dunleavy Administration is sticking to its more libertarian approach of asking — not forcing — people to vaccinate, wear masks where appropriate, take care of their health — and take responsibility for doing all the things they’ve been advised to do, such as washing hands and social distancing.
The committee meets at 3 pm Thursday in Anchorage at the Legislative Information Offices, when the two co-chairs will attempt to separate the governor from his Health Department professionals — professionals such as Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief’s medical officer, and Heidi Hedberg, director of public health, who will face a barrage of questions about the lack of hospital beds and shortage of hospital staff.
The Democrats appear ready to pounce to scare Alaskans. But the reality is Alaska has an abundance of vaccine and the most vulnerable people are already vaccinated. Those Alaskans who want a vaccine for Covid have it, and those who don’t want it are not going to be bullied into it.
Further, the rate of growth of the Delta variant appears to be slowing, even in Alaska, where although numbers of cases of Covid are still going up, the current wave may be near its peak, according to the New York Times.
That said, many policy makers are coming to the realization that Covid is here to stay and economies that are shut down have serious side effects on health. And while it’s now endemic, Covid appears to be a convenient way for Democrats to pivot from their disastrous decision to grant an $1,100 Permanent Fund dividend, funded by a broken model that includes fund sources already drained.
The Democrats’ mantra, as expressed by Rahm Emanuel, former mayor of Chicago: “”You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Such as shut down the state’s economy once again and break apart families and societies.