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Photo: Kevin Dietsch via Getty Images

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) voiced alarm and frustration about the surge of COVID cases in her state on Friday, decrying comparisons of mask mandates to Nazism.

Why it matters: Alaska's number of weekly cases has steadily increased in recent months, jumping 10% from just last week, according to state health data. Meanwhile, anti-vaxxers continue to protest mask and vaccine mandates in increasingly hostile situations.

What she's saying: "We are leading the nation right now in our COVID rates," Murkowski said in her address on the Senate floor. "We’re separated enough geographically, but through the advantages of air travel and road travel, we mix, we mingle, we get around, and the virus knows no bounds."

  • "If Alaska were a country, it would be the nation with the world’s highest per-capita case rate," she added, citing data from Johns Hopkins University. The state's health care system is barely holding up under the onslaught, she noted.
  • "We have had some just horrible, horrible confrontations in our public meetings in Anchorage," she noted.
    • "The top of the fold in the Anchorage paper is about an assembly meeting where individuals wore yellow Stars of David to protest the mask ordinance that the Anchorage Assembly was taking up, comparing a mask mandate to the Holocaust. It’s shocking."
  • She urged people to respect health care workers putting their lives on the line.
  • "We can have disagreements. We can have differing points of view," the moderate Republican said. "We can express them without degrading one another, without denigrating one another, without humiliating and mocking one another."

Go deeper

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Booster shots overtake first doses in the U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate entire Brazilian city as part of study — FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adultsU.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers on Nov. 8.
  2. Health: New cases down, but the West is at risk — Low vaccination rates exacerbate America's caregiving crisis — COVID is here to stay. So what does "victory" look like? — FDA will review Merck COVID-19 pill.
  3. Politics: NHL announces all but four players have been vaccinated — WHO names new advisory group on COVID origins — Biden admin warns Moderna to "step up" global vaccine supply.
  4. Education: LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations amid staffing shortage — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive — Arizona can't use aid for anti-mask education grants, Treasury says.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Minnesota National Guard to assist with hospital staffing shortages

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on April 19. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced Friday that he'll put the Minnesota National Guard on alert to help ease staffing shortages at hospitals and care facilities due to the rise in COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated residents in the state.

Driving the news: Over 400 Minnesota patients are currently waiting for beds to open up at other care centers as hospitals across the state have reported that they're at or close to reaching capacity, AP reports.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
24 hours ago - Health

FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose.

Why it matters: The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18.

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