ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A third Alaska hospital has instituted crisis protocols that allow it to ration care if needed as the state recorded the worst COVID-19 diagnosis rates in the U.S. in recent days, straining its limited health care system.

According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, one in every 84 people in Alaska was diagnosed with COVID-19 from Sept. 22 to Sept. 29. The next highest rate was one in every 164 people in West Virginia.

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital announced Friday that it activated the Crisis Standards of Care because of a critical shortage of staff, beds and monoclonal antibodies treatments. It also stated that patients could not be transferred to other facilities.

In mid-September, Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage’s largest hospital, invoked this policy, as did Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp., for its Bethel hospital.

” The move to Crisis Standards of Care was not something we took lightly,” Fairbanks Chief Medicine Officer Dr. Angelique RAMirez stated in a statement. This is to address a very serious increase in COVID in our community .”

The move came the same day the state reported 1,044 new cases, 108 of them in the Fairbanks area. The hospital says 35% of its patients on Saturday were being treated for COVID-19.

Since March 2020, there have been 110,850 total COVID-19 cases in Alaska, which has a population of about 731,000. There were more than 24,000 new cases reported in September as the delta variant drove a spike in cases in Alaska, which has never had a statewide mask mandate.

The state health department said in all, 2,432 people have been hospitalized, and 557 Alaskans have died.

Statewide, 60% of eligible Alaskans are fully vaccinated. The Fairbanks North Star Borough is the third worst region for vaccination rates in Alaska, with just under 52% of eligible residents vaccinated.

Foundation Health Partners ,, which owns Fairbanks Memorial Hospital has encouraged the community to wear masks as well as get vaccinated.

Ramirez said the decision to move to crisis standards was because of many factors, including community spread caused by the low vaccination rates and a high number of patients waiting to be admitted.

“This applies to all patients, including those with broken bones and traumas, heart attacks strokes, strokes, COVID, or anyone who requires medical care,” Ramirez stated. “The quality of the care we provide is fluid. It can change daily, hourly and even every hour depending on stateside .”

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She stressed the importance of not delaying medical attention, even when it is full. Ramirez stated that you will always receive the best and most compassionate care available at the time.

The state has contracted with nearly 500 medical professionals from the Lower 48 to help ease the staffing shortage.

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