Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions
A COVID-19 Solution for Alaska
By Bev Davies and Dr. Diane Liljegren MD
July 19, 2020
In Alaska and most of the United States there is debate about when and how much to “open up” communities effected by COVID-19. Covid infections are surging down south in most states that have opened up partially and/or opened completely. Alaska Covid infections are also increasing dramatically since the economy was and travel restrictions were eased. We had a 53% increase in active cases between July 7 and July 15. Alaska’s current approach is obviously not working. It is time for the state to take a different approach to protect our people and our economy. Instead of going back to lockdowns, as they are in California, Alaska’s geography makes it especially amenable to effective quarantine and the elimination of COVID-19 community spread. Stop it at the borders. Until we can get it under control again stop it between towns.
In Australia, the state of Western Australia (71% larger than Alaska), which has 2.6 million residents compared to Alaska's 745,000, never closed its schools, even at the height of concern over coronavirus. It instituted a “hard” border: a quarantine for ALL incoming travelers for 14 days. It briefly divided the State into zones and travel was restricted between zones, but it eliminated the zones when there was no intrastate spread. Its citizens are free to live normal lives with schools and businesses open and people are now even encouraged to be tourists in their own State.
There are currently only 27 active cases in Western Australia, all travelers tested in the 14-day quarantine. Alaska has 1235 active cases (including 988 resident and 247 nonresident cases).
The Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan is now greatly respected by all on both sides of the aisle and the independently spirited Western Australians are free to go to school, work, and play like normal, knowing they are relatively safe due to the safety net at the border.
In the past 10 days, Alaska has had another COVID-19 death and several more hospitalizations with a total of 35 in hospitals Statewide and increasing at an alarming pace.
Western Australia has had zero hospitalizations since June 5.
This is in marked contrast to the surging cases on the east side of Australia in the state of Victoria who due to their lax policy are now forced with lockdowns again.
Western Australia is a very successful model that Alaska could customize to stop our escalating numbers. Currently there is no travel testing or quarantine mandate for people moving between communities in Alaska, there is only a Swiss cheese-like policy for arriving interstate/international travelers and our numbers are increasing dramatically. Western Australia has been so successful in eliminating the coronavirus that their need for testing is less because people aren’t being exposed, there is no community spread and the safety nets at the borders are working. Their schools and businesses are open and social activity is near normal. The only new cases are the travelers in 14 day quarantine.
We need to protect ourselves now before it’s too late.
Please reference Mark McGowan’s Facebook page for the details of his success. He is providing strong, decisive leadership to the very grateful residents of the state of Western Australia.
Bev Davies and
Dr. Diane Liljegren MD
The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.
Received July 15, 2020
- Published July 19, 2020
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