First lady Jill Biden made a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska on Wednesday on her way to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Biden took a tour of the Alaska Native Medical Center where she marveled at some of the ways Alaska medical providers distributed COVID-19 vaccines, especially to tribal communities.
dr. Cate Buley, the medical director of the Primary Care Clinics at the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, told the first lady, “we delivered some vaccines to a few whale watching spots,” adding that it was “nothing I ever expected.”
“Or you want to do it again,” Biden said with a laugh.
Valerie Davidson, the president of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, greeted the first lady by pointing to a trash can outside where they had recently seen a bear.
“Maybe it’ll come back for my visit,” Biden said.
Biden got a demonstration of telehealth on the site.
A map showed some of the distances communities are spread out – with some even the distance from California to Georgia.
First lady Jill Biden made a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska on Wednesday on her way to the Tokyo Summer Olympics
The first lady was greeted on the tarmac and shown a trash can where they recently spotted a bear. “Maybe it’ll come back for my visit,” Biden said
dr. Joseph Park, a cardiologist at the center, showed Biden how people can view their EKG through the computer. dr. Cate Buley, beaming from Juneau, said, “The silver lining of the pandemic has been the explosion of this telemedicine service.” She talked about how telemedicine has led to cancer discoveries and healthy baby births.
Biden asked Buley how much mental health she provides.
Buley replies that “it’s increased dramatically.”
Biden asked Buley, “Are most of your patients susceptible to getting the vaccine?”
“Yes, we have extremely high vaccination rates,” Buley replied.
Then the first lady made brief remarks.
Davidson used a native Alaskan tribal language to greet the first lady, then switched to the language. She also noted that “we are 100 percent vaccinated in some of our communities.”
dr. Anne Zink, the chief medical officer of the state of Alaska, also made welcome comments.
dr. Biden took off her mask to speak.
First lady Jill Biden is shown dolls dressed in Alaskan costumes as she enters the Alaska Native Health Center on Wednesday and receives a wedding from (from left) Dr. Anne Zink, the chief physician of the state of Alaska, and Valerie Davidson, the president of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
One of Dr. Jill Biden held a polar bear statue in his hand as he stood on the tarmac on Wednesday to wave goodbye to Executive One Foxtrot as the first lady left for Tokyo, Japan
Biden noted how Zinc works from a yurt.
Biden took the podium and tried several times to repeat the name of the Alaskan tribe that originally owned the land – Dena’ina.
“Look, I see,” Biden said after a few tries.
“So as you know I’m going to the Tokyo Olympics,” she told the small group of reporters in the room. “I asked if I could stay a little longer,” she said of the Alaskan layover.
“This state is really special to Joe and to me,” she added.
She spoke about traveling across the state with the late Senator Ted Stevens, who served in the United States Senate along with President Biden.
“We traveled through this state by plane—well, mostly by plane,” Biden noted.
She also shared how she and Catherine Stevens were pregnant at the same time, when Biden was pregnant with daughter Ashley. “And it was a really big deal in the Senate because there hadn’t been a baby in the Senate here for a long time,” Biden said. “So most of them were, I think, old men,” she said with a laugh.
She inaugurated the center “that has helped lead this state in vaccinating not only natives, but non-natives as well.”
Biden told how she met a woman during her gym class in Washington. “Jill, she said I want to thank you for what you do.” “She said I had lost four members of my family to the virus and she started to cry. And she said, you know what I did. I said what did you do Jackie And she said I went and I got 140 people to get the vaccine.’
“I just felt so terrible for her,” Biden continued. “This is our way forward, reaching out to those who are still undecided, convincing them to protect themselves and others. And we have to take care, person to person,” she said, calling this the “last push.”
“I ask all of you who are listening now to choose to be vaccinated,” Biden said. “COVID is more contagious than ever and continues to spread. Even one hospitalization, just one life lost, is one too many.’