Wasilla mayor recovered from COVID-19, credits the vaccine for her mild case

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 7:50 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Glenda Ledford is back leading the city of Wasilla after being diagnosed with COVID-19. She’s back to work and said she could not be happier.

“I’m great, I’m great. I’m back to normal. No side effects, no nothing.” Ledford said in a Thursday interview. " ... I’m glad to be at work because I don’t do well staying at home.”

Ledford returned to work this Tuesday, she said, after contracting COVID-19 earlier this month despite being fully vaccinated.

Ledford said she originally thought seasonal allergies had affected her.

“My head was just stopped up,” she said. “I had a sore throat, I was coughing some. And so, I was chalking it up to allergies.”

There was a Wasilla City Council meeting scheduled for Monday, Sept. 13. Ledford said her executive assistant told her she was experiencing symptoms and was going to get tested for COVID-19. Ledford followed suit and got tested that day, and called into the city council meeting remotely just in case.

She received her positive diagnoses the next day on Sept. 14.

“The provider called me and said you tested positive,” Ledford said. “I’m like ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.’”

She said she was advised to rest, and that she got a call back later that day with an offer to be treated with monoclonal antibodies. She started receiving that treatment on Wednesday, Sept. 15, and said she experienced a noticeable improvement in her symptoms within 24 hours.

Ledford said she did not have to be hospitalized. The monoclonal antibody therapy, she said, helped her feel a lot better after about three days. Ledford also credited being fully vaccinated as a big reason she had a milder case of COVID-19. She got her second vaccine dose in March of this year.

Ledford described going to see a friend of hers in the hospital who had contracted COVID-19.

“When I would go see her, I would leave there thinking ‘oh, thank you Lord I took the shot’ because she was really, really bad off,” Ledford said. “She stayed four months in the hospital.”

The two women are close in age, Ledford said.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that by being vaccinated, that I just had a very, very mild case,” she said. “And, comparing to her situation, you know, I would leave there and think, will she be here tomorrow?”

Ledford said she’s thankful both that she got vaccinated and that she was able to receive monoclonal antibody treatment. She said she was told she’ll be able to get a booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine 90 days after that treatment.

“And I will assure you, I will be there to get that booster,” she said.

Ledford put her decision into the context of other pandemics and outbreaks the country has faced over the years, saying that when her generation were children, there was no problem being vaccinated against things like polio and smallpox.

“You know, these things that we think are gone are beginning to raise their head again,” she said.

Ledford was one of the more than 16,000 total resident cases of COVID-19 the Matanuska-Susitna Borough has seen since the start of the pandemic. Her experience comes as Alaska is in the midst of a surge of cases and new COVID-19 hospitalizations. State hospital data on Thursday showed that, as of Wednesday, more than 32% of people hospitalized in the Mat-Su were being hospitalized with COVID-19.

The state’s hospital data dashboard showed that, as of Wednesday, there were zero adult ICU beds left open in the Mat-Su, and that 10 people were on ventilators.

The region has the lowest vaccination rates out of all of Alaska’s major regions, with 40.7% of eligible people age 12 and older being fully vaccinated. The Kenai Peninsula Borough is the next least-vaccinated major region in the state, with 48.8% of people fully vaccinated.

Out of all Alaska boroughs, municipalities and census areas, the Mat-Su is third to last when it comes to the number of people who have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Data shows 45.5% of eligible people have gotten their first dose. The two areas listed below the Mat-Su are the North Slope Borough, where 41% of people have gotten an initial dose, and the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, where 38% have gotten their first dose.

Ledford encourages others to get vaccinated, but said she will not mandate it. She said that’s a personal decision.

“But when you are making that choice, how does that choice affect everybody else?” she said.

Ledford said people are free to choose not to be vaccinated, but that they must be willing to accept the potential consequences.

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