When do we declare victory and restore our lives? - Must Read Alaska
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When do we declare victory and restore our lives?

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One thing Alaskans want to know from the governor is how long. Is it 30 days? Is it two more weeks? Is it August?

As Alaskans grapple with their deeply diminished lives in this Year of COVID-19, they’ve done their part to flatten the curve. Fewer than 250 known cases of the Wuhan coronavirus have been diagnosed, and seven deaths are reported in Alaska to date. Across the state, 27 have been hospitalized for serious effects from the coronavirus.

It is a serious illness for some, to be sure, but many Alaskans suspect that they’ve had the coronavirus themselves, had not been diagnosed, and were only mildly impacted — a sniffly nose, a dry cough. The death rate is being bent downward as medical professionals learn more about the disease and as the public practices social distancing.

And yet in a few short weeks, from March 12 until April 9, our state economy is in shambles. Record numbers of Alaskans have filed for unemployment benefits, many more cannot pay for their health insurance any longer. It appears the economic consequences will be long-reaching.

It’s worse than just not having a job or health insurance:

People cannot get even medical care for urgent problems, too numerous to list here, but including serious conditions that keep them from living their best lives:

Case: A reader of MRAK has a cancerous cyst and a history of cancer of the same type. His doctor tells him he must wait 72 days to have the surgical procedure to remove this cyst. He is worried, rightfully so, because he has children at home.

Case: A woman with a prolapsed pelvic floor cannot have it repaired. Her organs are literally falling out of her. She uses a prosthesis to keep them in.

Case: A child with serious eye condition may become blind in one eye because the ophthalmologists are closed.

Case: A woman has compressed nerves coming out of her spine and is in agony, but cannot get surgery. Her doctors are giving her nerve blocks to help, but they only do so much.

Case: Women are delaying their mammograms because many mammography centers are closed; others will not perform mammograms for women over 50.

Case: Alaska Urological Institute has filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy rules.

Case: MRAK has learned there are medical practices on the Kenai Peninsula on the verge of closing, and yet the hospital beds on the Kenai are empty, waiting for COVID-19 patients.

Case: Nurses are being sent home without pay. They aren’t being furloughed, so they can’t apply for unemployment, but they can’t work either.

Case: A business owner whose tourism business has closed for the year cancelled his health insurance because federal money is not coming fast enough to help him. He’ll have to do without for the rest of the year.

The stories are pouring into Must Read Alaska every day, and they all are individual tragedies.

Alaskans are ready to go back to work, and it’s time for the Administration to open the economy back up — with fewer mandates and more advisories. The governor can advise that people wear cloth masks, wash their hands, avoid shaking hands this year, and try to get distance from others. He can recommend that people not gather in groups larger than 10 or 20, and that families take precautions when going about their lives.

But if we don’t get our economy back on its feet, there are real health consequences that will be felt. There will be divorces, suicides, sicknesses treated too late, domestic violence, and bankruptcies. The health impacts could be far greater than the deaths from COVID-19 in Alaska.

At the very least, Alaskans need to know how much is enough for them to sacrifice. Is it when Alaska has zero cases per day? Are 25 cases a day too many?

The lives Alaskans are now leading, at least in the major commercial centers, is no way to live for an extended period of time. Patience is wearing thin for a shutdown of society that is both open-ended and that appears to be picking winners and losers in the marketplace.

By April 11, Gov. Mike Dunleavy will have to decide if the state is still in a state of emergency. Will he extend the declaration? How long and what parts of his mandates can be relaxed?

These are not rhetorical questions. The private sector cannot take much more.

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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

  • When do we declare victory in the battle against President Trump’s Coronavirus, AKA the Wuhan virus,?
    When do we declare victory in the Afghan war? Or the Iraq war? Or the war on whatever?
    When will the concept of victory be replaced by the concept of working as allies, cooperating to find solutions for the greater good instead of fighting for the high ground?
    When?

    • At Armageddon. We are destined for this. We have it coming.

      • And yes, the Governor just cancelled school for the rest of the year. Don’t fault him for saving lives, elders live and for what some grow tired or impulsive to have ceased. Keep your eye on the big picture instead of distraction.

        • Keep your panties from bunching until the 21st he said. Then we will see.

    • Really Greg, you are calling a disease that started in Wuhan China the Trump Coronavirus, and calling for “cooperating to find solutions for the greater good” meanwhile you are instead of fighting for the low ground in your comments. Only a blind partisan with severe TDS would even think about calling the Wuhan Corona virus known as Covid-19 the Trump Coronavirus. It takes a person far more deranged to actually put that into words and click the post comment button.

      • I call it the China virus. Staying apart is working. Give it time. More time.

        • Steve-O, Greg, come on.
          It isn’t the China Virus, neither the COVID-19 virus. Maybe we should call it Trump coronavirus since the U.S.A. are now the #1 spot in term of infection and dead number.
          FYI, its official denomination is SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 is the name of the illness.

          • Marc, It might be more realistic to look at individual countries as rate of infection/death per 100,000 population. Looking at countries as just their total number of cases gives a false indication of how good/bad off a country (or even state or county withing the USA) is doing.

          • Communist Chinese Virus. Wuhan Flu. Beer Virus. Kung Flu. Bat Soup Flu. Obama’s Revenge. Marc, who’s gives a rats s$$ what you call it? It originated in China. Got that? If you don’t like the good ol USA, then move to China and send us a sterilized post card, you little man.

          • It’s where it started. That is why it is named that.

      • I think you are confusing me for someone else. I have never swayed from my position on this.

    • Uh, COVID-19 is NOT President Trump’s. Why would you act like he owns it? Perhaps you could use more realistic wording, otherwise it calls into question the legitimacy of the rest of your statement.

    • Look at the bigger picture. This is not “Trump’s Coronavirus,” but the demonic deep state’s last big chance to bring down President Trump and America, and resume the advance of their NWO – short of rigging the next election.
      Although the coronavirus appears to have been bio-engineered and weaponized to be many times more contagious than it would have otherwise been, it is still not even as deadly as the regular flu. Normal people with healthy immune systems will either be able to resist contracting it, or recover completely with no secondary
      problems.
      Yet the world wanna be power grabbers are taking full advantage of the fear factor and abusing their authority to the max. It’s all about training the masses and controlling the populace.

      • Amen Tim. You are right on.

    • Thank you Susan for this site , especially now
      How convenient the ADN site won’t allow comments on our State being in a stranglehold over this
      I’m disappointed in our Governors decision to extend the lockdown

      The numbers from CDC are bogus , we need to get Alaskans back to work and ready for our short summer

      We pulled through the ‘64 earthquake and can do it now

      • An earthquake is not a global pandemic.

        Aftershocks are not comparable to continued spreading of contagion.

        The numbers are bogus?

        18,000 US deaths is a lot of dead people for bogus numbers.

        • Compared to what?

        • Bill Tobin. The normal flu death rate as in winter 2017 was 61.000 in the USA. We didn’t halt every Business then. In fact I didn’t realize that many people died of the flu that year. I believe the financial outcome of this mess for Alaska will be horrible. Oil is on its ear, tourism gone, fishing near gone for the season. Doesn’t leave much. You should have read Susan’s story in entirety before making stupid comments. Good chance more people will die from the aftermath of this flu bug than from the flu bug itself.

    • We can’t move off of the distancing model we are on now until we complete widespread testing of our population to determine who can safely go back to work and who need to be quarantined.

      It’s that simple.

      But we aren’t testing. Why?

      Why aren’t we taking that next step?

      If we just wait a bit more and open it back up without testing we will just cause a second wave of contagion spread.

      We need to roll out a testing program on a statewide scale. Now.

    • Really genius? I know you lefties have far more loyalty to Communist China than to the US, so maybe when there are flights again, you’ll do the right thing and move there.

      • Yes, really, talk to an epidemiologist, talk to a professional, because it sounds like you’re taking advice from some ‘red scare’ proponent who knows nothing about the science.

  • Well said. And as you say there are dozens of more real human stories.
    Segregating those most vulnerable, especially those with underlying medical conditions, would allow thousands of Alaskans to go back to work. People who know they are immune and can prove it should go back to work. The sooner we get these tests, the faster that component can move.

    We still need more context in the reporting. Pie charts and bar charts would help, but they have to present all of the data not just new cases and deaths. not much hope there.

    • No one has lost a dime on this if they filed for unemployment. Tell the whole story!

      • Except for the people paying for the unemployment… e.g. the American taxpayers.

        • That doesn’t matter. Obama dug us into a hole so big we will never be able to climb out of. Its all about trade anyway. The national debt doesn’t matter so much. Just trade.

      • Really, Greg? Tell that to my son who was laid off from his exploration job at Kuparuk. He was making about $1,200 a week. Guess what he gets for unemployment? Something like $370/week.
        No loss there, huh?

        • Have him add in the $600 gov’t money. Tell the whole story!

          • $370 + $600 < $1,200

      • Are you kidding? There’s more to running a business than employee costs, important as employees are. Are you a business owner shut down for months?

        • There is help available if you can ask for it.

  • “seven deaths are reported in Alaska to date” at least two or three of these deaths were not IN Alaska, they were OUTSIDE of Alaska. I’m still waiting on an email from the Alaska Infectious Disease Program for clarification on why they are recording OUT of state deaths as Alaskan deaths when the CDC says “Death data, once received and processed by National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), are tabulated by the state or jurisdiction in which the death occurred. Death counts are not tabulated by the decedent’s state of residence.” https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/COVID19/index.htm
    .
    I don’t understand why the correct information isn’t being reported and why our state isn’t tabulating it correctly.

    • Fake news is having a heyday with this latest attack on the freedoms of the human race.
      CBS News Plays Italy Hospital Footage — Again — for Report on U.S. Coronavirus Response
      GOP Gov: I Will Not Shut Down My State, Following ‘Herd Mentality’ Not ‘Leadership’
      Fake News MSM caught lying about coronavirus infection numbers and Pelosi, Schiff, Schumer, AOC, Omar, Tlaib and over 100 politicians received donations from virus test kit suppliers.

    • That number would rise greatly if/when this got loose in the villages. No health care for a pandemic there.

  • It is clear now that it is beyond time to get things moving again. Today!

    Issue some common sense advisories and recommendations built upon what we have done, and move on.

    • And when your kid dies from it, oh well. Whatever.

  • ummm
    4/22/2020 we will be 40 days out from the first known case in Alaska.

    Today 4/9/2020 NY is 40 days out from the first known case in Alaska.

    Is Alaska magically lucky and immune to the simple corona viral math that has affected the rest of the world?

    Can anywhere in the world return to semi-normal before an anti-body test (how long does immunity last)?

    Before a vaccine?

    Are we limiting medical care to free up resources or to protect patients and practitioners from the corona?

    Seems if it is resources: SD-light is working-limiting growth rates

    Hence, perhaps it does make sense to allow more medical care to occur as normal with precautions.

    If your in a high risk group-with a surgery need you can put off, it might not be worth the corona risk.

  • The criteria for causing a fatality to be listed as ‘virus caused’ is changing at about the same pace as the count of “deaths from Wuhan COV-19”. I firmly believe this is intended to keep the fear and intimidation of America (and Alaska) ramped up by the leftists. The “results” of government and leftist politicians forcing their way into American lives and livelihoods over this entire fiasco is unprecedented (but for our own good, of course). Even with the deaths attributed to Wuhan Covid-19, there are still 15% fewer deaths in the last two months than there have been in the last two years in that same time frame in America. Numbers don’t lie but they can be manipulated. We are seeing that in the non-stop bombardment of very negative “news” by MSM and the left, against everything the President and, in our case, the Governor of Alaska and administrations are doing to protect, cure if needed, and help Americans and Alaskans. Not saying Wuhan COV-19 isn’t a nasty, deadly disease. Only stating the facts. Over 80% of fatalities attributed to the virus had other serious, even life threatening diseases before they were assaulted by the virus. With the ever changing criteria for blaming all fatalities on the virus and using this “count” (body count) to keep Americans/Alaskans cowed, in fear for our lives, the elitist left has an open highway to subjugation of all American people and, in Alaska, outright theft of citizens’ money. Sweden didn’t lock down the country and the “virus” death rate there is not as high as many locked down countries. Their economy is still on track. food sources are operating. Small businesses are still in business. The people are still citizens, not prisoners. What the hell is going on with our political drivers? Scare tactics. Throw the citizens a $1200 bone to keep them quiet while “bailing out” the very ones that caused the financial mess, with citizens’ tax money (again). Vaccinate every citizen or prohibit work, travel and the “American Dream”. If people aren’t alarmed by now, they must have been asleep at the wheel, or like so many, believing in government as the ultimate savior. Depend on yourselves, family and friends to help each other. Government as a last resort. Let the process of life continue. I for one, do not want to burden my grandkids with the impending results, financial and as a free country, that will need to be paid sooner and later, over this mess.
    One of our former enemy commanders, when asked how he convinced his troops to give up their life in battle, answered: ” I tell them it is better to die for something than live for nothing”. Life can be simple at times. Now isn’t one of them. Together, we can beat this. Divided, it will beat us. I’ve had my turn. I want those grandkids to have theirs. Whatever it takes from me. So be it. Free up our State and Country and let’s get back to business. Life is a ‘terminal’ disease.

  • I have a chronic knee injury i cannot get care for due to the virus. I’m unable to try to repair because I do not have access to the weight machines which I would use to stabilize the joint by exercising the surrounding muscles. It’s a college football injury which goes away as long as I keep the muscles stimulated….which walking and biking are not able to accomplish.

    • Not all stabilization therapies rely on access to a weight machine. There’s some good directed physical therapy regimens for stabilizing knee joints, many of them are put up on Youtube or video instruction on therapist’s sites.

      • Dr. Who?

  • We all have put something in the kitty for this thing. Just be patient. Think of the greater good. I know its hard, but try.

    • I’m not sure how we declare victory when people are getting sick and dying. Maybe when we stop that we can look around and declare something.

      • Greg,
        People get sick and die every day. Wuhan virus or not. That’s the way it is. Life is a cycle. You’re born, you live, and then you die. The nature of life. To destroy our country and blame it on the Wuhan, is to do exactly what the leftists want everyone to do. Enough is enough. If you look at the numbers, you’ll see that 15% less people died in America in February/March, 2020 than February and March 2018 or 2019. Doesn’t that tell you something? It should. The hype is intended to keep Americans scared and cooped up until something really bad happens. No way for our country to end up. The “experts” that got us into this have achieved their goals, so far. We need, as a people, to set it right and do it now. Those “experts” need to go to jail for lying to America.

        • Ben, the leftist aren’t in control though. This is happening world wide. No doubt or social distancing is helping keep the regular flue down and the china flu. It is working and about over or at least at number we can work with and treat. What are you suggesting, we arm our self and band together in a vigilante mob roaming neighborhoods daring the national guard to confront us? The gov’t is offering financial support to get folks through. I’m sorry but I think this is much worse than some think it is. I don’t think this is a new world order conspiracy to take over everything. I don’t think it is a financial or social reset either. In two weeks or less, it will be better.

  • State of Alaska COVID-19 Health Mandate 005 signed and supported by our Governor
    leaves it up to physicians to decide what is an urgent and essential medical procedure. If your doctor deems your medical needs not urgent/essential try another doctor(?) and let our Governor know about your situation.

    reminder-this is not a political issue, this is a math concern. SD-light is working, keep it up. We have gone from 10% daily growth (960 projected test cases 4/22) to 7% daily growth (567 projected tested cases on 4/22) which becomes a huge difference with additive time.

    • Actually, the med board and other licensing agencies determine the criteria for urgency. So violate their rules and lose your license. And that makes it political since there are no objective criteria, just what some political appointees say.

      • Actually, Health Mandate 005, since superseded by Health Mandate 015, directed each medical office, clinic, surgical center, and hospital to create a physician task force for the purpose of evaluating all proposed procedures and surgeries on a case-by-case basis to determine if they were non-urgent and elective or can be deferred and authorized the physician task force to make a determination on all borderline procedures or surgeries for each patient.

  • I still say an agree or disagree , thumbs up/down icon would be great for these comment sections.

  • For all the chicken little’s out there who have let the media influence their thinking, the sky isn’t falling. We will recover. You can file unemployment and not loose a dime. My oh my, what are you going to do when the bombs start dropping? Scream for mama?

  • 5 bucks says Greg Forkner is still getting a pay check or govt retirement check! The only folks saying, “Not Yet” are the ones still getting paid…….I. E. Government!

    • That, or comfortably retired. People need to read real history. Just because of the measles, smallpox, Typhoid fever, malaria. Our forefathers and their families didn’t just hold up inside their homes. They perused and moved on. The lasting effects of the direction we are being made to follow will have a lasting impact, just a few named in this article. Greg is just another example of a blind follower who isn’t capable of thinking the whole thing through. Look at the whole picture. Besides the deaths from other medical issues laid out here, think of all the walking dead there will be from destroyed businesses, suicide, depression, lawlessness, etc. This is going to be huge and won’t be reported until that too is to late. Oh, and by the way Greg, besides the fact the few “essentials who are working” will be paying for these handouts, unemployment does not cover every workers income. It was never meant to,

      • Your rant doesn’t deserve a response. Since when did that stop me though? Since you mention “real” history, let’s examine the 1917-18 Spanish flu. People DID, repeat DID hole up in their homes. Nome and Barrow did just that and were the only villages who stayed away from the 80 percent mortality rate in other villages. Score now is Greg 1, DH 0. Looking at the big picture, more people will be temporarily displaced by the quarantine, than if we did nothing. The death count would be much higher in that case. Sheeple aka chicken littles will always second guess the government’s response, in fact they will use successes as a weapon. Score update……Greg 2, DH 0. And finally, ANYONE who has a loss of pay, even self employed peeps are eligible for the new UE payouts. Anyone!! If you employer applied for the govt keep you on the payroll money, then you will get that pay as if you were working.
        Final score….Greg 3, DH 0 which stands for …you guessed it XXXHead!

    • Correct. I get paid for working 2 hours a day. Give that boy a Kewpie doll. If I was able to draw UE, I would. With the gov’t’s added on $600 a week, I’d be just fine.

  • Even if Alaska opens back up for business the sad reality is that oil will be down until Russia and the Saudis shake the shale producers out of the market. No planes flying and no boats going means the demand has cratered. With that type of demand destruction it’s not coming back soon. Also, tourism is shot for the season. When will people be jumping into the travel fray again? Not soon and not in numbers that will support our industry. The Saudis are trying to build a rainy day fund, I don’t see them giving up on stabilizing their regime to the best of their abilities which means money.

    .

    Hard days are here no matter if Governor Dunleavy would magically banish the virus from Alaska. If you haven’t dealt emotionally with the possibility of really hard times and real want you’re still early in the grieving process. We are just humans, we can’t know when the slog is going to be over. It’s not in our politicians power to make it otherwise. Only God is sovereign.

    • That’s a bummer because divine intervention only works for religious kooks.

      • Without a standard (God), on what basis do you define “kook”?

        .
        You’re the one play tennis with no net and rubber rackets.

        • The standard is objectivity and science. When you don’t understand how things came about note that the answer is never ‘magic’.

      • trouser,
        The more you talk, the bigger the insight into the real you.

      • That’s not true. Anyone who prays and asks for forgiveness and has a non-greedy, heartfelt prayer can possibly get divine intervention from GOD. Including kooks.

  • We are long overdue the the time to get back into the business of living and on with our work lives and business lives. So, Gov. Dunleavy…let go of your fear and get on with thinking the way of work and school and businesses. China did their crooked work on our economy but they have been at it for years and and years. Let’s open business and go to work.. Its over and the mainstream of this population knows this comes from the governors of every state. Let’s get back to work. It’s time!!!

    • We will see after the 21st. School is over until late August. Work and business is usually the same thing. When the cases drop, it will happen.

  • Great story and an even better selfie Suzanne!
    One thought though, how are we going to entice low wage folks back to work when UI benefits I am informed have been supplemented 3 times their normal amount? In other words, stay at home and earn more than going to work? Just wondering. A story here?

    • The UE peeps can’t bring home any more than they originally made. This was settled before the stimulus was signed. Call it the Graham clause if you like. People can’t make money on this thing. Just what they ordinarily made.

  • The solution is clearly coming out of these comments, very easy to see. A bunch of missiles suddenly destroying the seat of Communist Chinese government would give everyone a reason to get back to work. Oil prices would head upward. Yes, tourism would still be dead but military spending in Alaska would more than make up for it. If successful the Chinese would end up with some form of democracy. If unsuccessful then this Covid thing would seem like a very small problem.

    • Stick to advice on Japanese tractors, maybe

  • Set My People Free!

  • That’s crazy talk. You want to risk WWIII just to get oil up, and people back to work? You are incorrect, a world war would seem huge compared to the china virus. Millions would parish.

  • The control of your life will remain in bureaucrat hands for as long as they can milk it.
    Get used to it.
    If you want that freedom back someday be prepared to fight to get it.

    • Temporarily dissolving Habeas Corpus is in the Constitution. Good Luck with that.

  • Wow, you all seriously need a hobby. I think we can all agree the nation and our state are suffering significantly with this all out shutdown and that COVID-19 appears to be more contagious and deadly than the seasonal flu. Interestingly, the seasonal flu kills roughly 12k-60k people a yr in the US. We’re at 24k right now from the flu (hit early and mild this yr), and COVID is at 18k…

    We need an intelligent plan to re-open sooner rather than later. We have all learned alot. Key takeaways, we all care about our family/friends/neighbors and this includes health, well being and prosperity.

    We must work together on this, encouraging Gov Dunleavy to be rational and responsible.

    Sure would like to see widespread antibody testing up here. I think it will go a long ways towards helping us through this. But in the meantime, wash up, be smart and thoughtful.

  • IMHO until a cost effect test is available testing will be limited. The current test is around a $1,000 from what a RN told me.
    Also it won’t only be small businesses that go under. Many hospitals and clinics, Airlines, Engineering firms, Restaraunt chains, Retail Stores without a web e-commerce presence (Macy’s, Sears, etc.) are all in jeopardy already. It’s going to be a whole new world as the whole world is on sale or will be at close out prices!

    • Got any money for the market? Look at Devon Energy, Alaska airlines, and Ford.

  • Can’t get your cancerous lumps removed but they are raising hell to keep abortions on the table! WTF?

  • Stay calm. Checks are coming next week. File an unemployment claim. Remember the motto…….You take my money you wear my brand. Think about it and quit complaining. Be part of the solution.

  • We have no criteria for stopping the government intrusion because there was no real criteria for beginning it. Like in war, you really need defined criteria to know when your objective is reached, but in this case all interventions seem to be based on media-hyped opinions of best or worst guesses of any so-called expert du jour. When you have such mobile goalposts, it may never be concluded. Trump himself has some hard decisions now; political pressure from his opposition forced him to do anything, even if it was wrong. Now he needs to find a means to extricate himself from this conundrum.

    People increasingly cry for government to rescue them from all sorts of problems, always forgetting that governments perpetually fail at everything they do.

    • That’s not true. The government has many, many wins. If you don’t like America, why not leave?

  • Suzanne,
    You are correct we need to restart our economy. Rather than carping and practicing one upsmanship we need to think about how we do that. Every business and building is different. Owners need to think about new procedures for employees and customers. They need to possibly consider changing layout, purchase and dispensing of sanitizing equipment. High risk employees might need to be treated different. Each person needs to think about how they will interact with family, friends, customers and general association in daily life. Don’t wait for or let the government to tell you how (government is all about control for control’s sake, no value added). Get busy and a make a plan!

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