To the editor: The state of Alaska, section of epidemiology published a new report on Tuesday, Jan. 12, about the effectiveness of the mask mandate and targeted restrictions in public spaces that Anchorage used to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. The report can be accessed via this link: bit.ly/3bMLvMq.
We don’t have a mask mandate in place to help curb transmission. We could benefit from a mask mandate. Our rates are once again on the rise, our epidemic locally has been persistent, our testing positivity is high, and we are trying to move toward returning students to classrooms.
With vaccinations being rolled out, community mitigation in the form of a mask mandate could help bridge us until vaccines are more widespread and could potentially mean a more successful return of students to classrooms.
What we can do as a community affects the ability of the district to be successful right now, and there is nobody in this community who doesn’t want to get our kids back into classrooms. What most of us want is for that to happen safely, with the right precautions in place.
Outside of how the district does this, we as a community can utilize what we know about how to mitigate spread and support the district’s efforts. The Anchorage experience points to the effectiveness of communitywide mitigation efforts (mask mandate plus targeted restrictions in public) being useful to lower transmission.
Mask orders are cheap, effective, no one loses their job, and they are good for businesses because people feel more confident when they can move around in our community more safely. While I helped write the report about the Anchorage experience, what I’m writing now is about Fairbanks, the community I live in and love. We know much more about how to be successful than we did six months ago. Let’s use that knowledge.