Gov. Dunleavy to Alaskans: ‘None of us should be terrified’

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy made the remarks Oct. 6 in prepared COVID-19 video statement to Alaskans.
Dunleavy is urging Alaskans to be concernd about COVID-19, but not be scared.
Dunleavy is urging Alaskans to be concernd about COVID-19, but not be scared.
Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 10:28 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In a nearly seven-minute video posted to the State of Alaska’s website, Gov. Mike Dunleavy urged Alaskans to not be afraid of COVID-19, the highly contagious novel coronavirus that’s driving a global pandemic.

Amid all-time high case counts and positivity rates within the state, Dunleavy said Alaskans should be concerned, but not scared.

“It’s not as deadly as we once thought,” Dunleavy said in the prepared message. Although case rates are rising, hospitalizations and death rates are falling, he said.

“The chances of you going to a hospital, if you get the virus, is slim,” Dunleavy said in the video.

According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, COVID-19 has infected more than 8,700 Alaskans and 58 people have died with the disease. Daily case counts have been on the rise, and the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, told educators Monday night via Zoom that the state is in an “acceleration phase.”

On Friday, Oct. 2, Zink noted in a COVID-19 weekly case update, posted via video to Facebook, that 11 Alaskans had died that week with COVID-19.

Tuesday afternoon, hours before the governor’s video message posted, the Anchorage Office of Emergency Management sent a Nixle alert warning about the rising cases in Alaska and encouraging Alaskans to make “smart choices," which includes avoiding social gatherings.

“COVID-19 has killed 210,494 Americans including 36 Anchorage residents. Cases are surging. COVID-19 could affect you. But it doesn’t have to happen. Together, we must stop COVID-19 with simple steps and smart choices,” the alert read in part.

Jared Kosin, president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, made a few remarks at the end of Dunleavy’s video, assuring Alaskans that hospital capacity in the state is not overwhelmed.

“The take away for us at this point in time is hospital capacity is holding up, we are managing the situation and the situation has been pretty consistent over the last couple of months,” Kosin said.

Kosin’s statement reinforced Dunleavy’s message that hospital capacity at the moment is OK, and that off-site centers are ready to be stood up, should the state’s health care system become overrun. They did not mention COVID-19 models forecast full ICU capacity if current trends continue.

Health officials, including Zink, have spent months strengthening the state’s limited health care infrastructure. They have hoped to avoid a surge in hospitalizations as flu season hits and the pandemic continues.

In separate appeals, Zink, Kosin and Dunleavy asked Alaskans to help reduce infection by wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.

“The ultimate indicator is obviously community spread, and that continues to climb, and I think we all need to do our part as individuals to mitigate that spread,” Kosin said.

Alaska’s News Source reached out to Zink, Dunleavy’s office and Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s office for comment on the governor’s video message, but has not yet received responses.

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