Even after Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson declared a public health emergency yesterday, even after Providence Alaska Medical Center announced this week they had begun rationing care to patients, and even after Alaska health officials warned weeks ago that Anchorage’s healthcare system would collapse if something was not done to slow the volume of patients flooding into Anchorage hospitals emergency departments — Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson permitted a potential superspreader event to be held in the Anchorage Assembly chambers on Saturday.
The event, packed with unmasked individuals at a time when Anchorage hospitals are in crisis, was organized by Eagle River Assemblyperson Jamie Allard.
A post made to social media earlier in the week pointed to Allard’s involvement and stated that the Eagle River Representative wanted to meet with anyone who did not agree with vaccine mandates.
In the same social media post made about Allard’s plans to meet with those opposed to vaccine mandates, Allard is said to have given a business card to an Anchorage resident and told them that she would be in the Mayor’s conference room “Thursday at 3 pm and Friday at 2:15 pm.”
The social media post also asked “everyone to spread the news” about the planned meetings because Allard said that “the more people (who attended) the better the outcome” would be. The post also stated that Allard didn’t just want to meet with nurses but was willing to meet with “anyone else who doesn’t want the vax and may lose their job.”
According to a source, the Mayor’s conference room was in use on Friday so Allard relocated her planned meeting to the Municipal Manager’s Conference Room.
Legal experts say that a private company is allowed to mandate vaccines for their staff members, so long as they provide an exemption for medical or sincerely held religious reasons.
Today’s event, reportedly greenlit by Anchorage Mayor David Bronson, was inexplicably held at the Anchorage Assembly Chambers and was partly livestreamed to Facebook by Anchorage resident Dustin Darden who has testified numerous times in front of the Anchorage Assembly, often referring to the COVID-19 vaccine as a “bioweapon” and who has made statements discouraging others from getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Anchorage Mayor David Bronson, Eagle River Assemblyperson Jamie Allard, Municipal Manager Amy Demboski and Chief Human Resources Officer Nikki Tshibaka attended this morning’s event.
At the beginning of the meeting, a voice believed to be that of Nikki Tshibaka, asked attendees to raise their hands if they had witnessed doctors at their hospital or practices “failing or refusing to give patients informed consent about the potential side effects of the COVID shot.”
Screenshots, photographs and video of the event appeared to show a large group of unmasked people crammed into the Anchorage Assembly chambers – many speaking about their opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. One man who spoke at this morning’s potential superspreader event said that the COVID-19 vaccine appears “to be not effective” and said that the “numbers are getting to be made up.”
When reached for comment about today’s meeting held by Jamie Allard and Mayor Bronson, Anchorage Assembly Vice Chair Christopher Constant told me that the meeting was a “meeting of Allard and Bronson and by no stretch was it a meeting of the assembly.”
“Clearly it was an attempt to generate rage as the Assembly prepares to lead where the Mayor has abdicated his duty to the public health and welfare of our community,” Constant said.
Midtown Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel responded to a request for comment via email:
“The meeting held today is no more than a dangerous anti-science echo chamber and is an affront to the many healthcare professionals who are desperately trying to keep our system from collapsing. We must demand more from our mayor and elected officials and not tolerate this reckless behavior.”
On Thursday, Zaletel sent a fiery email to Mayor Bronson, telling him that the rampant spread of COVID-19 and restricted care in Anchorage hospitals, were the direct result of his “unwillingness to enact simple public health and safety measures.”
Mayor Bronson has made concerning comments about the coronavirus pandemic in the past, most notably during an Anchorage mayoral debate televised by Alaska’s News Source earlier this year. During the debate, Bronson said, “This pandemic, if there was a pandemic, was over last summer.”
Mayor Bronson issued a press release on September 9 in response to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, writing that “The idea that government would mandate businesses to force personal medical decisions on their employees is flat out wrong and immoral, and beyond the authority of the President.”
Mayor Bronson, in the same press release, also claimed that President Biden’s approach to vaccines did not look at the science of getting to natural immunity.
In an August 6, 2021 media statement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study showing that vaccinations offered a higher level of protection than natural immunity. The study, conducted among previously infected people with SAR-CoV-2 demonstrated that unvaccinated individuals were more than twice as likely to be reinfected with COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated after initially contracting the virus.
This post has been updated with additional information.