Eighteen Alaska state representatives have asked Gov. Mike Dunleavy to immediately issue a statewide shelter-in-place order. Among them was Democratic Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky of Bethel.
Zulkosky works as the Vice President of Communications at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation. She chairs the House Tribal Affairs Committee, as well as the Health and Social Services Committee, and said in a statement: “Research is clear. Waiting for ‘medical data’ to justify a statewide mandate to shelter in place puts communities large and small in incredible danger, as we could be past the point of no return. Especially at risk are villages and rural hubs that lack emergent medical capacity that exists in our larger cities. A shelter in place mandate gives Elders and vulnerable Alaskans the best possible chance to stay safe and healthy.”
The bipartisan group of representatives sent Dunleavy a letter on March 26, saying that senior administration health officials Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink and Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum should recommend how long the order should last. In the letter, the lawmakers recognize that the order would “undoubtedly cause hardship for some Alaskans,” but that they believe Alaskans are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to keep their communities safe.
The letter points out that areas outside organized boroughs lack the legal authority to issue shelter-in-place orders. The representatives said that this makes a statewide order necessary. Places like Anchorage, Juneau, and many other municipalities in the state have already instituted orders like this. Communities like Bethel are second-class cities, and lack the governmental authority to issue similar orders.
The representatives thanked Dunleavy for actions he’s already taken to keep Alaskans safe, but they wrote that “more must be done, and it must be done quickly.”
The signers include 15 members of the House majority caucus, including 12 Democrats, two independents, and one Republican; two Republican members of the House minority caucus; and Republican Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, who isn’t in a caucus.