The Left is turning up the pressure for a statewide mask mandate in Alaska.
Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, who chairs the House Health and Social Services Committee, wrote this week that Gov. Mike Dunleavy should enact a universal mask mandate, and not leave it up to local communities. It’s been an ongoing theme with the Bethel Democrat, who recently wrote again on the topic, stating that simply asking Alaskans to do the right thing is not enough.
Alaskans won’t wear masks voluntarily, was the message. There have to be legal consequences if they don’t.
“It has become abundantly clear that simply asking people to do something, when you have the legal authority to save lives and the capacity of our medical system, is not leadership. It has not flattened the curve of COVID-19′s spread in Alaska. We need decisive action, taken now, to protect our public health and our economy. Alaskans are worth it,” she wrote in the Anchorage Daily News.
“As Alaska grapples with a record-breaking number of COVID-19 cases week after week, increasing hospitalizations that strain our state’s medical capacity and we continue to witness unnecessary loss of life, failure to enact statewide protective measures that mitigate harm to Alaskans on the promise of a future vaccine is nothing short of negligence,” Zulkosky wrote.
She also wants the governor to reinstate capacity limits in buildings and enact other economy-killing restrictions.
Dunleavy has stated that these mandates are best left to local governments, but he has recently reinstated some travel restrictions and travel testing requirements to protect villages from the import of the virus by those visiting Anchorage and Fairbanks.
Masks are mandated in Anchorage at the local level, as they are in many communities.
Since the coronavirus appeared in Alaska in March, 24,419 Alaskans have tested positive for the virus and 99 deaths have been attributed to it, a death rate of less than 1/2 of 1%. 129 Alaskans are currently hospitalized because of serious conditions caused by the virus. During the summer, the number hospitalized was below 10. Overall, 584 Alaskans have been hospitalized for treatment, sometimes because their oxygen levels had dropped or they had become dehydrated, at other times because they developed serious complications and needed a ventilator.
Zulkosky has held several hearings on COVID-19 over the past few months, and her conclusion that a statewide mandate on masks is needed has been unwavering.