To the editor: Admittedly, I’m a layperson without specialized knowledge about pandemics or COVID-19, but, from sources that seem reliable to me, I’ve come to conclude that an early and comprehensive response makes a huge difference in the rate of the spread of the virus. In fact, apparently the only way to “bend the curve” downward is with such a response.
Community spread is starting to spiral in the Lower 48. Until that changes or a vaccine is developed, let’s consider taking far-reaching measures to ensure what’s happened there doesn’t happen here. Temporarily, we should: 1) enforce social distancing with bans on group gatherings, 2) stop national and international air traffic into Alaska, and 3) close the Alaska Highway at the Canada border. (Medical or critical travel, necessary supplies, and food shipments excepted.)
Without a doubt, this would create hardships for certain industries, but those hardships will soon follow anyway if community spread of the virus begins here. Plus, internally we’ll be dealing with an extreme health crisis few people living today ever have seen (exactly what the Italians are now facing).
Our state is in a unique situation in that we only have had one verified case of COVID-19 so far, and we can control border entry with just a few choke points. Also, in any given period of time most of us don’t need to travel outside of Alaska, so the inconvenience the above measures bring about, assuming they keep Alaska free of COVID-19, would be relatively minor.
We need to take seriously the truism that a little caution and prevention now could very well help us avoid massive problems down the road.