(Anchorage) – The surge of COVID-19 cases across Alaska is placing the state’s health care systems and emergency response at urgent risk. Thursday Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy urged Alaskans to take immediate action to combat the virus as the state remains in the red zone, at the highest alert level. The current statewide alert is over 450 cases per 100,000 people.
For boroughs and census areas, 27 areas are in high alert (>100 cases), one is in the substantial alert level (50-99.9 cases) and none are in the moderate or low alert level.
Governor Dunleavy has directed the Department of Health and Social Services, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, and the Department of Law to work with the hospitals to address the hospital capacity constraints. These efforts include:
- DCCED is expediting the process for licensed healthcare providers to work in licensed facilities. At the same time, DHSS is implementing an expedited background check process and waiver for licensed providers who are seeking to work in certain licensed facilities in Alaska, such as hospitals. This will aid in decreasing the time it takes to get new health care employees working in our communities.
- DHSS and DCCED are assessing General Services Administration (GSA) staffing contracts to temporarily support hospitals. This will aid in increasing staffing levels in our hospitals to care for all patients.
- DHSS and the Department of Law are evaluating the authorities in the public health order and seeking amendments as needed to support hospitals, including working with them on CMS 1135 waivers that allow for certain Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) flexibilities to expedite additional staffing at Alaska’s health care facilities. This would allow alternative care sites, urgent care sites and other areas of healthcare delivery to be more efficiently used to relieve pressure on the hospitals while still providing care.
- DHSS is procuring medical supplies to support hospitals that are unable to purchase items due to supply chain constraints. The state can bulk purchase and share the resources with the hospitals as well as support movement of supplies and medications around the state as needed.
“Hospitalizations are reaching critical levels of capacity and I have directed my administration to immediately address those needs,” said Governor Dunleavy. “To stop the surge of COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of our friends and families, I’m asking the entire state to work together to protect Alaska and Alaskans.”