Mayor Castner to community: Take this seriously -- Coronavirus a 'death sentence' to some

Mar 24, 2020


Homer Mayor Ken Castner
Credit KBBI

Homer Mayor Ken Castner took the opportunity of Monday night's city council meeting to lay out exactly how seriously he and the city are taking the current coronavirus pandemic and its potential to spread to Homer. The comments seemed especially forceful after a citizen complained about the closure orders during the Committee of the Whole meeting, saying the dangers of the virus were overblown.

We share the mayor's talk here in its entirety.



I'm going to put my mayor's hat on and talk a little bit about this, this three-headed monster that we're looking at. Obviously, when you have a, I mean, I was on a local radio show the other day and I said, I'm just a small town mayor looking at a global problem. I mean, it's way above my paygrade. But the three-headed monster is that we have a global pandemic with a what they call a novel Coronavirus which means that it being novel that there's no known immunity toward this there's there's nobody, there there are a few people now that have had it and have grown immune, but that the what they call the herd immunity is very, very low. And it is incredibly communicable. 

The second head of this monster are the economic consequences that are befalling everybody equally all around the Earth. For us to contract the coronavirus it has to come into our contact, we actually have to come into contact with a virus, but the economic consequences are like a nuclear fallout. It's everywhere and it's immediate. And these extreme measures that we're taking to try and flatten the curve and to try and lower the risk to the population are having some real dire consequences to the workforce into the economic prosperity of the world. And the measures that the United States government is taking to try and address some of those problems, just accelerate other problems printing more money and going a couple of trillion dollars further into debt, is going to have a lingering consequence. 

We cannot allow this disease to take hold in Homer, and the only way we can do that is with these extreme measures.

And the third thing is the psychological effect. And I think that we're already starting to see the cracks in that where people, where young people especially say, 'I'd rather be sick than broke.' And that that's not the either/or that we're looking at. We're looking at a, I won't call it a disease, but a virus that that one person can infect three people very, very easily. And with a regular virus, one person can infect 1.28 people very easily. And after that's passed 10 times down the line you have 14 people that have been infected. With this virus if you can infect three and the three that you infected can infect three, 10 times down the line, that number is 59,000 people. And that's the math of the situation. It is incredibly, incredibly communicable. And there is no half measures that need to be taken. 

Now, there's no overreaction on this thing. This is scary. And the last time the world saw this was in 1918, with the Spanish Influenza when 5 million people died. It would be irresponsible for your local elected officials to do anything other than take extreme measures. And it's not just us. I mean, the president of the United States has declared this to be in a national emergency. 

So I really, really, I really, really hope that people take this seriously because we're talking about death sentences to people that are at risk. We cannot allow this disease to take hold in Homer, and the only way we can do that is with these extreme measures. And if we're successful, everybody says, 'Oh, look it was no big deal, nobody got sick.' No, we did a really good job, we got a really perfect job in trying to keep it out of the community and keep everybody safe. 

So there's two outcomes on this thing. I mean, everybody's kind of hoping that somebody is going to come up with a miraculous vaccine very, very quickly. But the vaccine solution is at least a year away, that’s what the health officials have told us that over and over again. And the other thing is that we allow the spike to wash through and that you get everybody sick and then the natural immunity builds up and part of the herd can no longer catch it and pass it on and then it will go away that way. But that results in a lot of deaths. 

And we just have to look at Italy. The death rate there is first of all, 99% of the people that have died in Italy had one least one preexisting condition and the death rate there is four percent. The numbers are not to be ignored. We're really lucky that we're probably at least a month behind Italy, in Homer. Alaska, is probably three weeks behind Italy. 

But we don't want to wait to see what happens and drop our guard and all of a sudden say, yeah, we're going to, we're going to have parades and parties and all that sort of thing. We really, really need to come together as a community and stay safe. 

And we have kids coming back from college, they need to be isolated for a while until they are shown to be free of the virus. We have people coming back to get their fishing boats ready for the fishing season. We have to take some measures in order to protect the community and it just does not help anybody to get into these discussions about overreaction, because no person that understands the implications of this disease would consider this to be an overreaction.