Oct 3, 2021 - Health

Alaska allows 20 hospitals to ration care amid COVID surge

Two brothers receive the Covid-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage

Two brothers receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Alaska activated crisis standards of care for 20 of the state's health care facilities Saturday, as it continues to deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases, the state's Department of Health and Social Services announced Saturday.

Why it matters: The move will allow the facilities to begin rationing medical care as needed. Alaska has seen the worst coronavirus diagnosis rates in the country recently, per AP.

State of play: Alaska has experienced a scarcity of medical resources, staffing shortages and has found it difficult to transfer patients to different facilities due to a lack of available hospital beds, per a press release.

The big picture: Alaska's COVID-19 case count has increased 72% in the past two weeks, per NBC News.

  • "If Alaska were a country, it would be the nation with the world’s highest per-capita case rate," Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski warned on Friday.

Several of the 20 facilities had already instituted crisis protocols.

  • A triage committee at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage — the state's largest hospital — has been forced to make decisions about how to ration care, per the Wall Street Journal.

Other states have struggled to provide care to patients during the pandemic.

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