Jill Biden stops in Alaska en route to Tokyo Olympics already ravaged by COVID

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.

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.

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

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.’

Biden had left earlier Wednesday for her first solo international trip.

With Tokyo under a state of emergency for the duration of the games, Biden and the official Raymond Greene of the US embassy in Tokyo are the only members of the presidential delegation, with Jill Biden leading the way.

“The President and First Lady want to support our top-level Olympic athletes and the Games while adhering to strict protocols and precautions put in place by the White House COVID team, the government of Japan and the Olympic Games to the public, athletes and the delegation safe,” the east wing said Wednesday morning.

First lady Jill Biden (right) left the White House on Wednesday for her first solo trip abroad: to attend the Tokyo Olympics, despite the rise in COVID-19 cases. Biden will be photographed Sunday and will return to the White House

Chinese athletes arrive in Tokyo earlier this week for the Olympics at Narita International Airport

Chinese athletes arrive in Tokyo earlier this week for the Olympics at Narita International Airport

In Tokyo, Biden will be greeted by Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi at Yokota Air Force Base and will dine with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his wife, Mariko Suga, at Akasaka Palace on Thursday evening.

Mariko Suga and Biden will also spend time together at the Akasaka Palace on Friday morning, as they were unable to attend in April when the Japanese prime minister came to the White House because the Japanese first lady did not make the trip.

To mitigate any COVID risk, the first lady will then meet virtually with members of Team USA. On Monday, two Team USA athletes, alternative gymnast Kara Eaker and basketball player Katie Lou Samuelson, had already tested positive for COVID-19.

Biden will then greet Japanese Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace.

In the evening, the first lady will attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

On Saturday, Biden will spend time at the US embassy in Tokyo.

She plans to dedicate a room in the Chief of Mission Residence to Irene Hirano Inouye and Sen. Daniel Inouye.

Irene Hirano Inouye passed away in 2020. She founded the US-Japan Council and was the group’s first president. She also served as the first Executive Director of The Japanese American National Museum in her native Los Angeles.

She was married to Daniel Inouye, who passed away in 2012 and served as a senator in Hawaii for nearly 50 years.

After the dedication, the first lady will watch the US-Mexico softball game with foreign servicemen and their families.

Biden then heads to the Olympic venues to watch various events before leaving Japan.

The first lady will be among a handful of people cheering on athletes as organizers announced earlier this month that spectators would be banned from the Olympics venues as the number of COVID-19 cases peaked in Japan.

Biden stops in Alaska on his way to the Olympics and travels through Hawaii on the way back.

In Alaska, the first lady will greet military and veteran families residing at the Alaska Fisher House at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

For this week's solo outing to Japan, First Lady Jill Biden (right) attended the G7 with President Joe Biden, where she spent time with Carrie Johnson (left), wife of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and their son. Wilfred (center), in Carbis Bay, Cornwall

For this week’s solo outing to Japan, First Lady Jill Biden (right) attended the G7 with President Joe Biden, where she spent time with Carrie Johnson (left), wife of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and their son. Wilfred (center), in Carbis Bay, Cornwall

dr.  Jill Biden and Queen Elizabeth II

dr.  Jill Biden and Kate Middleton

Highlights of the trip also included meeting Dr. Jill Biden with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle (left) and a school tour with Kate Middleton (right)

All over the United States are Fisher Houses, which house military relatives when a relative receives medical care.

The first lady will also stop at Alaska Native Medical Center to encourage vaccination efforts in Alaska.

She will make a similar vaccine-related stop at a local high school during her stay in Honolulu.

Biden traveled with President Joe Biden last month for the first leg of his first global outing since being sworn in in January.

The first lady accompanied the president to the G7 in Cornwall, England, where she spent time with Carrie Johnson, wife of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and their son Wilfred in Carbis Bay.

Highlights also included a school tour with Kate Middleton and a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle with her husband.

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