This Coronavirus is quite scary even here in Alaska. I live in a village of 800 people that is one flight away from Nome or Anchorage. Although there was only one confirmed case of the Coronavirus here in Alaska, it was a pilot who arrived on a cargo plan and promptly turned himself in.
Just the other night, two more people were diagnosed with the Coronavirus. They got it when they were out of the state. I fear there will be even more cases as people return from spring break because many left the state. I have a co-worker who is currently in Hawaii with ten confirmed cases. By the time you read this column, there will be more cases across the United States.
I think those of us in Alaska are just as worried as anyone else in regard to this virus because there are many things that are more difficult for us. For instance, many villages have clinics manned by health aides. If they have to test anyone for the virus, the sample will have to be flown by plane to Anchorage to a state lab and even then I don't know if they are set up for this.
Most of us order supplies from Target, Walmart, or Amazon and they have to be sent to us via mail. If you live in the bush that means the mail is sent via airplanes and not by truck because we don't have roads. If the government closes down domestic travel, we might not get our supplies unless they allow cargo to operate. If domestic flights are shut down within Alaska, that in and of itself would constitute a hardship for everyone in the bush.
This would mean people couldn't get to appointments at regional hospitals, medicines might not make it out since they have to be shipped by mail, supplies for stores arrive via plane, and our world is highly connected to planes. For those of you in other places, you have stores you can get to. You have hospitals somewhere fairly near and pharmacies you can head to if you need a refill. Stores are able to arrange for deliveries from wholesalers via trucks but here?
I think it is the uncertainty of the future that has made it harder. As a teacher, I know school has been cancelled till March 30 for the moment but each day I keep an eye out to find out if that is changing. We talk about putting everything online but the reality is that we do not have enough internet because unlimited does not exist outside of major cities. This means many students will not be able to use online videos and resources to keep up with classes. I suspect we'll have to resort to packets and worksheets.
Am I scared of what is coming? Both yes and no. Yes because I don't know how far restrictions are going to go and no because things cannot be changed. What will happen will happen. I am scared I might not get out of town this summer to see my parents or family. One conference I planned to attend has already be cancelled.
I'd love to hear how others are feeling about this. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.