As Alaska’s COVID-19 cases rise, Dunleavy seen not wearing mask at political fundraiser

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 4:34 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In the midst of two straight weeks of triple-digit daily COVID-19 case counts in Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunleavy urged Alaskans to do their part to slow the spread, and assured them the virus is not to be feared.

“None of us should be scared today. We should be concerned. We should make sure that, again, we take all the precautions necessary to prevent ourselves from getting the virus,” he said.

He delivered the appeal Tuesday in a nearly seven-minute, pre-recorded video message posted to the State of Alaska website, and later, to his Facebook page.

“Nothing is going to replace individuals taking action on their own to protect themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors. And this includes wearing a mask when you’re in a setting with others, avoiding contact with others outside of your family if you don’t need to make that contact,” he said.

Dunleavy, in the video, called avoiding being in a crowd without a mask and hand-washing “good common-sense practices that we should do that we understand will help mitigate the spread of the virus.”

That evening, the governor attended a political fundraiser at a private home overlooking Turnagain Arm.

Must Read Alaska, a local blog, filmed some of the event, briefly showing the overlook of Anchorage then entering the home. Once inside, Dunleavy could be seen standing next to a woman while another woman took their photo.

Dunleavy had a mask but wasn’t wearing it, nor were attendees who were in view. When Dunleavy noticed the camera, he waved off the photographer and could be heard saying, “Turn that off.”

Although the video, captured on Facebook, was later taken down from Must Read Alaska’s Facebook page, versions of it have circulated on social media, including on Twitter.

The governor’s office did not respond to questions from Alaska’s News Source about why the governor wasn’t following his own advice as cases surge, amid a week when the ease with which the virus spreads was underscored when President Donald Trump and the first lady were diagnosed with COVID-19.

In his Tuesday video message, Dunleavy downplayed the danger of the virus, nodding to its ability to spread without causing symptoms, the likelihood that most people who acquire the illness won’t need hospitalization and the recent decline in mortality.

“Again, the more cases we have, the more that we expect hospitalizations and deaths. But the more we test people who are young and healthy, who we don’t think are going to need hospitalizations and deaths, those are going to change the numbers. So that’s where the numbers came from with the governor’s release,” said Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, at an Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes videoconference Wednesday.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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