May 1, 2020
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The pandemic continues and likely will for quite some time. As we all work to adapt to this new normal, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered by the legislature.
The House Finance Committee and Legislative Budget and Audit Committees, both committees I serve on, will each play important roles in navigating Alaska’s allocation of federal funds in coming days. The single most important task of the legislature is the appropriation of funds. We want to do everything we can to ensure that community needs are met in this very challenging time and to guarantee that federal funds are fairly and responsibly allocated.
As we work to navigate federal guidance on these funds there are a lot of questions to answer and concerns to address. I am taking time to study the issues at hand carefully and advocating every day to ensure that Alaska’s communities are supported in this moment of crisis.
You are invited - “Coffee with Constituents” goes virtual
I am happy to announce that I will be hosting a “Coffee with Constituents” zoom event with Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson next week. Please join us virtually at 3 PM on Monday, May 5th.
Here is the link to join:
You can also join the meeting by phone by calling (888) 788-0099 toll free and entering the meeting ID.
In more typical years, one of the things I look forward to most upon returning home from Juneau is having a chance to see my constituents face to face. Normally, I host an event at the local donut shop. I love sitting down with the people of my district in person. Visiting with you and hearing your thoughts, whether I agree with them or not, is invaluable to my work as a lawmaker.
Though using “zoom” was not in my repertoire prior to this pandemic, in times like these we are all learning new ways to connect with each other.
Navigating a New Normal
As new cases of COVID-19 in Alaska decrease and social restrictions start to ease we need to continue to work together to keep each other safe. Even if you are starting to go out more, please remember to continue practicing social distancing, handwashing, wearing a mask in public spaces and generally limiting your interactions with others.
If you are visiting another community for recreation or even just going to get a haircut, please be mindful of the safety of others. We also all need to be intentional with our interactions. The following message from Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anne Zink, was published a few days ago on the Alaska DHSS website and I think it is worth sharing (the Ray Troll art below is also borrowed from the DHSS page):
“As we reopen Alaska and our community mitigation measures decline (stay home mandate eased), please help remind Alaskans to be even more vigilant with two other levers that will help continue to flatten our pandemic curve: personal mitigation and environmental mitigation. (These CDC links are for the flu but are good descriptions of these mitigation categories).
Let's encourage Alaskans to keep their social circles small and deliberate as restrictions ease. Consider spacing out errands or public outings and being very cautious and deliberate about public outings. Maybe your family goes out to eat OR you get a haircut. In other words, let's go slow and be cautious.”
Dr. Zink also suggests Alaskans keep a volunteer log of interactions with others in the event they do become ill, so contact tracing is expedited. One thing to be aware of, as we continue to open up, is the concept of a “social bubble” messaged in Canada and New Zealand.
As we start to interact more, be mindful of how many people we are interacting with and how often.
COVID-19 Alaska Help Line
Alaskans who need help or connection to information about services, including related to COVID-19 impacts, can dial 2-1-1 from their phones. You can also reach out via email to Alaska211@ak.org or dial 1-800-478.2221.
Please do all you can to protect yourself and others.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if you need any assistance.
We are all in this together.
Representative Andy Josephson
Alaska House of Representatives, District 17
Serving Midtown, University and East Anchorage Neighborhoods