First Lady Jill Biden was in Alaska for a few hours Wednesday. She came with a message.
“I’m asking all of you, who are listening right now, to choose to get vaccinated,” she said. “COVID is more contagious than ever, and it continues to spread. Even one hospitalization, one life lost is too many.”
This was a refueling stopover for Biden. She’s en route to Tokyo to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympic Games. But Biden said she asked to do a little more while she was on the ground in Anchorage.
On Wednesday afternoon, Biden visited the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, the state’s largest tribal health organization.
There, ANTHC President Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson and the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, gave her an overview of the Alaska Native health care system and demonstrated how telehealthcare works for rural Alaska.
This was an opportunity to brief someone who has the constant ear of the most powerful man in the world, and Davidson took it. She explained how tribal organizations took over from the Indian Health Service to run the Alaska Native Medical Center. She also explained ANTHC’s work to build water and sewer systems in rural Alaska. And she told of the success they’ve had in fighting COVID-19.
“In some of our communities we have 100 percent vaccination,” Davidson said.
Biden also met with military families at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Listen to Alaska Public Media’s Liz Ruskin talk with News Director Lori Townsend about First Lady Jill Biden’s visit: