Once the worse of the pandemic passed, some friends and I started to gather weekly to laugh, eat and amuse each other. It was just like before the pandemic but not quite because it was happening in a big empty room in my house that allowed for safe distancing. Also, everyone brought snacks individually wrapped so we could eat and visit – our two favorite things in the whole world.
Because we are all of a certain age, we received our covid vaccinations around the same time and so hit the two weeks past the second shot stage all at about the same time also. And then, just to top it all off, the CDC said we could take our masks off in certain circumstances and there we were – the perfect certain circumstances. As the women arrived at my door, each ceremoniously ripped off their mask. We could once again meet in the way we had for most of our lives – unmasked and with all the wrinkles showing.
You see, for those of us of a certain age, those masks may have been a pain in some circumstances – like trying to read the label on a can in the store while your glasses are completely fogged up. But there were other circumstances where they were the perfect accessory. Your wrinkles didn’t show. You didn’t have to put on lipstick. You could blame the mask for not recognizing someone. Yes, it certainly had its perks.
I can’t wait to be rid of it when I am shopping or in a restaurant now that I can ditch it at home. I’d forgotten how hard it was to read lips though a mask in order to understand what someone is saying in a noisy room. Instead, I just keep nodding and smiling. A smile they can’t see under the mask.. Which is the way it should be because I have no idea what that person might be saying and maybe it’s sad.
I don’t usually find a lot of good things to say about our Alaska government. This is because it is usually so much easier to make fun of it. Seriously, a month of taxpayer money wasted while the legislature argued who should be in charge. My kindergarten teacher, Sister Angelina, would have had that resolved before morning milk break.
But it turns out that Alaska can occasionally do something right. Maybe it’s because we have such a small population. Maybe it’s because we have very discrete population bases that can be more easily covered. Maybe it’s because Alaska Natives never really learned the selfish ways of the conquering culture and are still happy to share what they have if it helps. Whatever the reason, Alaska is kicking butt and taking names when it comes to the Covid vaccine rollout.
Just to contrast – my sister lives in New Jersey. She is the right age and has the right medical issues to be in one of the first groups to get the vaccine. She gets up every morning and uses her phone, iPad and computer to try to get an appointment. She is usually met with the message that there are 420,000 requests and 2200 appointments available and she didn’t get one of them. This has been going on with her for weeks. Quite frankly, I told her it would be quicker and less stressful to just fly to Alaska and get the shot and then fly back for the second one as needed. She’d still probably get it faster.
So let’s give credit where credit is due. Alaska has done one helluva job with the vaccine rollout. Sadly, this has nothing to do with our Legislature – or maybe I should say, not surprisingly. This has everything to do with Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink and Gov. Dunleavy’s decision to actually let science lead the way here. I have no idea what, if any, closed door arguments there might have been to not let science speak and instead take the Trump approach of pretending all will be ok with just the ingestion of a little bleach. I am glad if, in fact, those arguments were put forth, they lost to common sense, reason and science.
Here in Alaska we tend to see our government as the Keystone Kops of government. Often, we see our legislature as even worse. So when we get something as right as we seem to have gotten the vaccinations, someone needs to say bravo. So bravo to all the Alaskan front line workers giving out this vaccine. And bravo to the governor and Dr. Zink for doing it the right way. Are you watching this, Legislature? Because this is how it’s done. Maybe someday we’ll be able to say bravo to our legislators too. I’m not holding my breath for that. But, as this vaccination roll out in Alaska has shown, miracles do happen.