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Jill Biden stops off in Alaska on her way to Tokyo Olympics that have already been plagued by COVID

First lady Jill Biden made a stop in Anchorage, Alaska Wednesday en route to the Tokyo summer Olympics

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 Primary Care Clinics at Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium told the first lady, ‘we delivered some vaccines in some whale-watching boats,’ adding that it was ‘nothing I ever expected.’ 

‘Or you want to do again,’ Biden said laughing.   

Valerie Davidson, the President of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, greeted the first lady by pointing out a garbage can outside where they had recently spotted a bear. 

‘Maybe it will come back for my visit,’ Biden said.   

Biden was given a tele-health demonstration at the site. 

A map showed some of the distances communities are spread – with some as far as the distance from California to Georgia.

First lady Jill Biden made a stop in Anchorage, Alaska Wednesday en route to the Tokyo summer Olympics

The first lady was greeted on the tarmac and shown a garbage can where they recently spotted a bear. 'Maybe it will come back for my visit,' Biden said

The first lady was greeted on the tarmac and shown a garbage can where they recently spotted a bear. ‘Maybe it will come back for my visit,’ Biden said

Dr. Joseph Park, a cardiologist at the center, walked Biden through how people can see their EKG via computer. Dr. Cate Buley, beaming in from Juneau, said, ‘the silver lining to the pandemic has been the explosion of this tele-medicine service.’ She talked about how tele-medicine has led to cancer discoveries and healthy baby births.

Biden asked Buley how much mental health services she provides. 

Buley responds that ‘it’s increased a drastic amount.’

Biden asked Buley, ‘are most of your patients receptive to getting the vaccine?’

‘Yes we have extremely high vaccination rates,’ Buley answered.

Afterward the first lady gave brief remarks.  

Davidson used a native Alaskan tribal language to greet the first lady and then switched to language. She also noted that ‘some of our communities we have 100 per cent vaccination.’ 

Dr. Anne Zink, the chief medical officer for the state of Alaska, also gave welcome remarks.

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 Zink works out of a yurt.

Biden took the podium and tried several times to repeat the name of the Alaskan tribe that originally held the land – Dena’ina.

‘See I’m getting it,’ Biden said after a few attempts.

‘So as you know I’m heading for the Tokyo Olympics,’ she told the small group of reporters in the room. ‘I asked if I could just stay a little bit longer,’ she said of the stopover in Alaska.

‘This state really is special to Joe and to me,’ she added.

She talked about traveling the state with the late Sen. Ted Stevens, who served with President Biden in the U.S. Senate.

‘We traveled all over this state by plane – well, mostly by plane,’ Biden remarked.

She also talked about how she and Catherine Stevens were pregnant at the same time, when Biden was pregnant with daughter Ashley. ‘And it was really a big deal in the Senate because here there hadn’t been in a baby in the Senate for a long time,’ Biden said. ‘So most of them were, I guess, old men,’ she said to laughter.

She heralded the center ‘which has helped lead this state in vaccinating not only natives but non-natives as well.’

Biden talked about how she met a woman at her exercise class in Washington. ‘Jill she said I want to thank you for what you’re doing.’ ‘She said I 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 this is our path forward, reaching out to those who are still undecided, persuading them to protect themselves and others. And we need to make this care, person by person,’ she said, calling this the ‘last push.’

‘I’m asking all of you who are listening right now to choose to get vaccinated,’ Biden said. ‘COVID is more contagious than ever and it continues to spread. Even one hospitalization, only one life lost, is one too many.’ 

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

With Tokyo under a state of emergency throughout the duration of the games, Biden and U.S. Embassy Tokyo official Raymond Greene are the only members of the presidential delegation, with Jill Biden designated the leader. 

‘The President and First Lady want to show the highest level of support for our Olympic Athletes and the Games, while following strict protocols and precautions set by the White House COVID team, the government of Japan, and the Olympics to keep the public, athletes and the delegation safe,’ the East Wing said Wednesday morning. 

First lady Jill Biden (right) departed the White House Wednesday for her first solo trip abroad: to attend the Tokyo Olympics, despite the rise in COVID-19 cases. Biden is photographed Sunday returning to the White House  

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

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

In Tokyo, Biden will be greeted by Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi at Yokota Air Force Base and, on Thursday night, will have dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his wife, Mariko Suga, at the Akasaka Palace. 

Mariko Suga and Biden will also spend time together Friday morning at the Akasaka Palace, as they didn’t have the opportunity in April when the Japanese prime minister came to the White House because the Japanese first lady didn’t make the trip. 

To diminish any COVID risk, the first lady will then meet virtually with members of Team USA. On Monday, two Team USA athletes, alternate 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 Tokyo Olympics’ opening ceremony.  

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

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

Irene Hirano Inouye died in 2020. She founded the U.S.-Japan Council and was the group’s first president. She also served as the first executive director of the 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 to Hawaii for nearly 50 years. 

After the dedication, the first lady will watch the U.S. versus Mexico softball game with foreign service members and their families. 

Biden will then head to Olympics venues to watch several events before leaving Japan. 

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

Biden is stopping in Alaska en route to the Olympics and traveling through Hawaii on the way back. 

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

Before this week's solo outing to Japan, first lady Jill Biden (right) attended the G7 with President Joe Biden, spending time with Carrie Johnson (left), the wife of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and their son Wilfred (middle), in Carbis Bay, Cornwall

Before this week’s solo outing to Japan, first lady Jill Biden (right) attended the G7 with President Joe Biden, spending time with Carrie Johnson (left), the wife of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and their son Wilfred (middle), in Carbis Bay, Cornwall   

Dr. Jill Biden and Queen Elizabeth II

Dr. Jill Biden and Kate Middleton

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

There are Fisher Houses all over the United States, which house military family members when a relative is receiving medical care.

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

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

Biden traveled with President Joe Biden last month to the first portion 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, the 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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