Look, we have our Dr. Fauci.
Courtesy of NPR:
As the COVID-19 pandemic began to pick up in Alaska, Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, faced a dilemma.
Should she continue in-person meetings and nightly briefings with Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy? Or should she opt for a more socially distant form of engagement?
Zink chose the latter, saying she wanted to model the behavior that she’s been appealing to residents to follow.
She now appears at Dunleavy’s briefings by video. And over the past two months, she’s become a trusted voice as she appeals to Alaskans to follow the strict social distancing and other public health guidelines adopted by the administration — which doctors groups have credited with keeping the state’s COVID-19 numbers among the lowest in the country.
Zink, who has a Facebook fan club and a #ThinkLikeZink hashtag, isn’t the only public health official to acquire a cult-like following during the pandemic: Anthony Fauci, the federal infectious disease expert, has inspired a Saturday Night Live tribute and socks printed with his face, while Ohio’s top doctor, Amy Acton, has sparked internet memes and YouTube imitations.
But Zink is almost surely the only one helping to run her state’s pandemic response from a wood-stove-heated yurt behind her family home.
I give Dr. Zink a lot of credit for why Alaska has fewer Coronavirus cases than any other US state.
Yes, we are helped by having plenty of wide-open spaces in which to practice our social distancing, but her ability to get politicians from both parties to listen to her words of wisdom is no small feat.
We have way more than our fair share of stupid people up here so it is vitally important that we have somebody giving us direction who people can respect and to whom they will listen.
Alaska is very lucky.