Like a lot of Republicans, Alaska State Senator Lora Reinbold refuses to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Alaska Airlines, one of only two carriers that could transport her from her home district near Anchorage to the state capital of Juneau, has permanently banned her from their flights. The other is Delta, and it suspended its service between Anchorage and Juneau as of today, Saturday, September 11th.
Reinbold’s intransigence now means that she cannot cast votes during the current session of the Alaska legislature, depriving her constituents of representation.
This week, Reinbold complained in a typo-riddled Facebook post that she had no means of trekking more than 800 miles to Juneau to do her job. But instead of taking ownership of her actions which caused the problem in the first place, Reinbold blamed Delta and accused the airline of screwing her career.
“People of Alaska, I was in Juneau for a very long extended session Jan-May, & part of June. I am in Juneau now as the Third (so far unproductive) unspecial session comes to a close Tuesday. I asked to be excused because Delta [sic] last flight out is Sept 11. Sen Steadman & Von Imhoff have asked for longer excusals. To be excused does NOT mean you will not be here, it means the legislative process cannot be inhibited if you are not there. Maybe its [sic] time to proceed on moving the legislature to the road system,” she wrote. “If the only airline, that has flights during session to Juneau, can unconstitutionally impede a legislators [sic] ability to get to the Capital in a safe and timely fashion, it could undermine our representative republic.”
Reinbold’s whining was fiercely ridiculed. Numerous observers, including those whom Reinbold represents, called upon her to resign.
“You as my representative, need to step down or ask for a representative to take your place. Your decision to not follow the Airlines [sic] instructions was a personal choice that now interferes with your constituents. Leadership is needed and your [sic] no longer able to handle this responsibility,” one constituent replied.
“Looks like it’s time for you to resign your post. You can’t follow rules on an airline you certainly should not be voting for the people of Alaska,” said another.
A third individual called it like it is, responding, “Ma’am when you bought your flight you agreed to wear a mask on the flight, don’t play dumb now.”
The Washington Post noted on Saturday that “lawmaker protests against mask mandates have become their own distinct genre of outcry against public health measures intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and Reinbold’s request to sit out the rest of the year is the latest example.” The paper added that “it’s a trend that persists even as the highly infectious Delta variant spreads across the country and health officials urge people to follow guidelines that have been shown to reduce infection, hospitalization, and death.”
And Alaska is certainly no exception to the latest COVID-19 surge.
According to data tracked by The Washington Post, “daily caseloads in the sparsely populated state topped 600 this week for the first time since the winter surge,” and “hospitalizations have jumped 20 percent since last week, exceeding their peak in January.”
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.