Editor’s note: The following is from a memo issued by Anchorage Assemblywoman Jamie Allard in favor of a resolution to deny Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson’s request that the Assembly extend the emergency COVID declaration and subsequently her powers to enact emergency orders. The Assembly voted 6-4 at its April 13 meeting to extend the emergency declaration to June.
In this administration’s effort to mitigate COVID-19, there has been tunnel vision on that one goal, which began as “slow the spread” to protect hospital capacity and now has no clearly defined endpoint. This myopic view of the local response to the virus pandemic has neglected the risks and collateral damages of these unprecedented public health policies. We may never know the cost of our actions any more than we can know what would have happened if we did nothing. But we can focus on what we do know.
What we do know is who is most vulnerable to this disease. We know how those people and their immediate families can protect themselves. We know treatments are available. We know that the vaccine is now widely available in Alaska. We know anyone over 16 years of age who wants to be vaccinated has had that opportunity. We know how to adapt and be flexible, giving options for curbside service, distance learning or working from home.
It is past time for people to make their own medical and personal decisions.
We know how any level of lockdowns affect our economy. We know our individual responsibilities and what risks each of us is comfortable with taking. We know new strategies and new cleaning habits from the hard work of our community’s public health experts.
We know our hospitals are not and never were overwhelmed. The death rate has dramatically declined, from 12 deaths in January 2021, to 7 in February, to 1 in March. The state has been functioning without an emergency declaration since February 14, 2021. Our neighboring local governments, with little to no health mandates in place, have had similar or better outcomes.
I and my fellow Assembly members were elected as the legislative branch of this local government for the Municipality of Anchorage, to serve as the checks and balances on the executive branch’s actions – on the administration.
A state of emergency with its concomitant decision-making power and authority in the acting mayor’s seat allowed to unnecessarily continue beyond the conditions for an “emergency” as defined is not the intent of our Charter or our state Constitution, nor is it in the best interest of the individual. This overbearing government control over individuals and businesses is a slippery slope and a danger to our freedom.
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
We do not know if or when COVID-19 will no longer be a threat, but it is a greatly diminished threat to our health today. We have had over a year to create the systems needed to mitigate this virus after removing the state of emergency.
Terminating the emergency proclamation or the emergency orders does not mean the pandemic is over. It does not mean we suddenly do nothing. It means this administration has done its job preparing and implementing community protection measures. It means the community is ready for individual risk assessments and freedom to make our own choices, and that our businesses and schools have mitigation strategies in place. It means we accept our limited role as an elected government, and move forward addressing the broader needs of our community beyond COVID-19. It is past time for people to make their own medical and personal decisions.
I encourage my colleagues to join me to vote to terminate the emergency orders and regulations restricting our community, and to join me to vote to terminate the emergency proclamation, rather than extend it as the administration requests by separate resolution.