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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.

Go deeper

20 hours ago - Health

Age is still a huge coronavirus risk factor

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Note: Data represents 30% of Americans across 16 jurisdictions: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York City, Seattle/King County, Wash., Utah and Wisconsin; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Even vaccinated Americans who are 80 or older are at higher risk of dying from the coronavirus than anyone — vaccinated or not — under the age of 50, according to CDC data.

Why it matters: The vaccines work really well against hospitalization and death, but they're not perfect. Reducing the level of COVID circulating in the community is key to protecting older or vulnerable adults — even vaccinated ones.

Oct 18, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Minnesota offers cash and chance at $100K scholarship as vaccine incentive for teens

Expand chart
Data: Minnesota COVID-19 Response; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Minnesota is offering new incentives to shot-wary teens in an effort to boost the state's COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Driving the news: 12 to 17 year olds who get both doses over the next six weeks will receive a $200 Visa gift card, Gov. Tim Walz's administration announced Monday.

  • Kids vaccinated during this period can also enter a lottery for one of five $100,000 scholarships to attend any of the state's public or private colleges or universities.

Why it matters: Public health officials say increasing vaccination rates among young Minnesotans is key to curbing spread of the virus, especially in schools.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.