Update – Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO, and Alaska Public Media
The state of Alaska has not yet received all medical supplies from the federal government requested, so it has switched to sources both within the state and throughout the world.
The state requested more than 3 million N-95 masks from the federal government, and has received 165,000. He asked for 1 million medical gowns and received 9,400. It also has a lack of face shields, surgical gloves and masks.
Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink recorded at a daily press conference on COVID-19 on Wednesday that there is a global shortage.
“So we are working with manufacturers in the state as well as federal and local and international partners to try to get more personal protective equipment and, really, more testing so we can ensure that people are examined, quarantined, tested appropriately,” he said.
Alaska has received all the requested ventilators. It also accepts everything requested Kit Abbott, which provides rapid testing for viruses.
Zink said the lack of personal protective equipment had caused public health experts to think creatively about how to meet the needs of the country.
“I feel like being a manufacturing supply chain expert, trying to find out how we get, you know, supplies from one place to another and how we develop them and how long it takes and how much raw material,” said Zink
He said coronaviruses might be present in many communities whose cases have not been confirmed.
“I think we all need to assume at the moment that this is part of our community,” he said.
Zink said the country was working to increase its testing capacity. He noted that the percentage of tests that returned positively rose, and the country wanted to do enough testing that it was declining.
The state also changed the guidelines for who should be tested. Patients in any facility where health care services are provided and household members of the health care provider can now be tested in a state laboratory.
Previous guidelines said that those at higher risk for serious illnesses could have tests sent to commercial laboratories outside the country; now, the guidelines say their tests can be carried out in state laboratories. And people who work in critical infrastructure work such as in grocery stores have been added to those who can undergo tests sent to laboratories abroad.
People who have no symptoms still do not qualify for testing according to the guidelines, even though service providers can use their discretion.
Original Story – Rashah McChesney – KTOO
The latest COVID-19 press conference from Governor Mike Dunleavy is scheduled for 5pm.
The Governor, a member of his cabinet and the state’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anne Zink has held this briefing almost every day since March 10.
They have shared updates on the number of people in the state with confirmed cases, announced public health mandates, and explained administrative strategies and reasons.
On Tuesday, country reported 13 new cases of the virus, and a total of 226 positive cases throughout Alaska. They also reported that 32 people had recovered.
One more person has died, bringing the total number of deaths to seven.
The government has imposed 12 public health mandates that have reshaped daily life in Alaska to combat the spread of the virus. These mandates and other Alaska specific COVID-19 resources and information are available at coronavirus.alaska.gov.
During Tuesday’s press conference they talked about the country’s response to the pandemic rural Alaska. They answered questions about the challenges facing villages and rural communities – and about partnerships with tribal and private entities that provide equipment and services for these communities.
Alaska join at least five other states in the ban on elective abortion during a coronavirus outbreak. The procedure, along with dozens of others, was listed as elective operations – state officials suspended them in mid-March. But on Tuesday, Dunleavy issued a clarification about which one exactly operation to stop.
Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said the country followed suit guidance from the American College of Surgeons about which procedure should be postponed.
However, the guidelines mentioned by the state do not recommend stopping pregnancy altogether – either for medical reasons or if the patient requests it. According to the guidelines, termination of pregnancy is a procedure that “if postponed significantly, can cause significant damage.”
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