As the state begins to relax health mandates intended to slow the spread of COVID-19, a moment of reflection is in order.
In some ways, what happens next will be determined by the conduct of Alaskans.
To date, state officials have credited the behavior of Alaskans with helping to keep infection rates low enough to give the state time to build up its health care, testing and personal protective equipment capacities.
Now Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink have determined that enough capacity exists to begin reopening parts of Alaska’s economy this week. The plan is to monitor the data continually and carefully. Each successful step would build a foundation for the next. A step that produces an unwanted rise in coronavirus numbers would be cause for reassessment.
Alaskans can directly affect how this economic reopening will proceed.
As Dunleavy and Zink note frequently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19.The novel coronavirus is in Alaska, and will continue to be.
But we also know how COVID-19 spreads. And, we know the things we can do to help protect ourselves and those around us against infection.
Acting on that knowledge will give us the best opportunity to steadily reopen economic life in Alaska. Yes, it takes time, thought and effort to follow hygiene and distancing protocols. Yes, it would be wonderful to resume living without such protocols right now.
We can get there sooner than later if we each do our part. We’re looking forward to patronizing the local businesses that soon will be more available to us. By following protocols, common sense and neighborly courtesy, we plan to do so in a way that respects the health and well-being of business owners, staff members, other patrons and ourselves.
Taking individual responsibility for our own conduct is the right thing, and likely will be one of the best things to help us move toward a more-normal life.