In a story in the Anchorage Daily News, readers are led to believe that the Trump Administration is pushing a statewide mask mandate for Alaska. And that the Trump Administration says seafood processors should hurry up and mask up.
On the same page, the newspaper touts how fake news about COVID-19 is hurting the nation’s health response: “Untruths about virus are proving highly contagious,” the headline reads.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy said the irony of those two headlines didn’t escape him.
In fact, in Alaska seafood processors came to an agreement with the State of Alaska in mid-May, and since May 15, all processors require masks of their workers. The last thing processors need is for a lawsuit from a worker who says they are not wearing masks, as mandated by the State of Alaska.
“To insinuate we are not, is just shoddy reporting,” Dunleavy said. “I wish they’d save the shoddy reporting for other aspects of government,” rather than misinform readers about COVID-19.
In the story, the reporters said that Dunleavy has “steadfastly declined to require masks statewide.”
In fact, Dunleavy has said time and again that he believes that kind of mask mandate is a local government prerogative, since many communities in Alaska will never see a case of COVID-19. Anchorage and Juneau have mask mandates, and other cities are considering them on a regular basis.
Alaska has the sixth fewest number of cases of the coronavirus per capita in the country. But seafood processors have been a hot spot in Alaska. Rather than the processors’ employees bringing the virus to the communities, it appears to be the other way around, however.
In Anchorage, Copper River Seafoods is covered not only by the existing mask mandate for processors, but by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s mask mandate for the city.
Nevertheless, 76 workers out of 135 at Copper River Seafoods came down with the virus.
Dunleavy was so irritated with the weaponization and politicization of the story that he took to YouTube today to explain why the headline on the right rail of the newspaper was accurate, and the headline at the top of newspaper was an example of fake COVID-19 news.
“Just be careful what you read,” Dunleavy said. “And what certain outlets want you to believe.”
In the report, the Trump Administration says no part of Alaska is in the “red zone,” but that Alaska is in the “yellow zone” for cases, indicating between 10-100 new cases per population in the week prior. And Alaska is in the green zone for test positivity, with a positive rate of under 5 percent.