I had a fire and brimstone response to Ethan Berkowitz’ latest foray into the world of “sit down, shut, and color” via mandates intended to deal with the increasing number of active Wuhan Flu cases here in Anchorage. But Suzanne Downing in Must Read Alaska, Craig Medred in Craig Medred News beat me to the punch and posted commentary much better than what I had in mind.
Even Bernadette Wilson with her Truth Unmasked and follow-on Alaskans Deserve Better projects is out in front dealing with this one. She managed to raise the ire of Go Fund Me with the Truth Unmasked iteration to the point they shut her down and returned all donations. As of this writing, they have not yet shut her Truth Unmasked project down.
Yet we have the continuing problem of Mayor Berkowitz bringing down the heavy hand of the Muni on its citizens all in the pursuit of some version of ultimate safety and survival. As of this writing, we are up to public shaming for those who choose not to mask up and most recently shaming bars in an effort to slow down the spread of the virus.
There is a reason Anchorage citizens are not real supportive of these efforts, and I believe that it is entirely tied to the observation that public health experts have been wrong about every single mandate since this virus started making the rounds. The lockdowns were intended to protect the hospital emergency rooms. Yet they stretched on for months. They allowed the Mayor and governors to pick and choose which businesses were favored (essential) and which ones were not (non-essential). Ethan appeared to use the shutdown here in Anchorage to silence his political opposition among the bars and restaurants to his alcohol tax.
Dr Fauci lied about the need for masking in March. He later explained that it was to protect a scarce resource from a consumer run (not unlike the run on toilet paper). Health care professionals lied about the use of the hydroxychloroquine – azithromycin – zinc cocktail to treat the virus. Worst of all, they lied about the models, all of which were wildly wrong.
So, the question for the Mayor and his cheerleaders is this: You were wrong about your mandates over the last several months. What makes us thing you are right today about masking?
There is one additional, quite important reason not to mandate universal masking. At this point in the pandemic, we do NOT want to halt the spread of the disease. We want it to spread far and wide among the low risk community so as to build herd immunity. What is the alternative? Endless rotating shutdowns? Endless mandates? More control? More shaming? If we aren’t overwhelming the hospitals or dying in droves (we aren’t), then perhaps it is time to get on with our lives.
I think the thing that irritates me most about all this is the complete, stunning lack of imagination by the Mayor and in general, those on the political left. Their actions during this pandemic have been sadly predictable, ineffective (other than crushing small businesses and the economic engine of this city, state and nation), and bereft of anything remotely resembling allowing the citizenry to find their own way through this. It is almost as if they view us as recalcitrant children, too selfish (a popular term among the mask shamers) to take care of either ourselves or our neighbors.
For example, far ultraviolet (UVC) light is used to sterilize pathogens (virus and bacteria) both airborne and on surfaces in clinical situations. They have been used to clean the interiors of subway cars and airliners. There are studies out there that indicate that UVC can be used in commercial buildings to sterilize interior air. Mount the lights in the ceilings, point them sideways, and run a ceiling fan. Costs should be pretty low. Better yet, if the Muni were really interested in actual public health, they would offer business owners a property tax break to install these devices and give it a try. E-mailed this idea to three of Ethan’s Assembly members complete with links. No interest at all.
At the very beginning of this, Scott Adams suggested restaurants and bars be allowed to serve and conduct their business outside during the warmer parts of the year. Little interest in this either, as the Muni seems to be more interested in homeless being outside than patrons of bars and restaurants.
A final non-Wuhan Flu example of lack of imagination for your consideration: San Francisco has tried putting homeless up in local hotels. This has been an abject failure. Yet Ethan is in the midst of purchasing four, count ‘em, four hotels here in Anchorage to do the very same thing.
I realize that Mayor Berkowitz is trying as hard as he can to do the best he can do in this, but the lack of imagination is both troubling and predictable. Like a man with a hammer, to whom the entire world looks like a nail, his worldview is such that the hammer he has – bigger government, more government force and power, emergency orders – applied to the general public is at the point where his actions – any / all of them – are making things worse.
I can think of no better argument for never voting for a democrat again. We can do better. We must do better.
Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.