October 28, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services today announced continued measures being taken to prevent, slow, and otherwise disrupt the spread of COVID-19. In partnership with federal and local partners, those efforts include:
- Increasing weekly allotments of test kits from HHS.
- Additional 25,000 Abbott BinaxNOW rapid test cards supplied from HHS.
- 50 new rapid testing machines that will be focused on cluster response and congregant settings from HHS.
- Procuring 189 additional rapid testing machines and 186,000 tests that will focus on staff who serve vulnerable populations.
- 14,000 easy to use antigen tests that will be crucial for rural hospitals and clinics to have rapid results.
- Improving the testing supply chain to allow small and mid-size hospitals who can’t compete with vendors the ability to purchase equipment from the DHSS.
- Expanding testing with schools.
- Purchasing 3.5 million pairs of gloves that will resupply all hospitals, clinics, and communities.
- Opening a new commercial testing lab in Alaska which will add capacity decrease turnaround time for results.
- Opening a new testing site in Nome.
- Preparing alternate care sites to be on standby across the state.
- Improving IT systems and connections so results are returned faster.
Assisted Living Facilities:
- The Infection Prevention Team will expand current prevention work for Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) and Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF).
- Setting up a system so Assisted Living Facilities can find qualified employees to work if low on staffing.
- Expanding contact tracing utilizing the National Guard, UAA staffing.
- Developing patient movement coordination and maximizing available beds around the state so patients don’t have to be diverted out of state.
“From the early days of COVID-19 reaching Alaska, my team has worked around the clock to meet the needs of our communities and provide necessary equipment to slow the spread of this virus,” said Governor Dunleavy. “I commend the tremendous effort made by our public health and emergency operations teams in coordination with our federal and local partners. Together, we remain committed to fighting the virus and protect our most vulnerable populations.”
“Our work to provide added layers of protections for Alaska’s most vulnerable populations has continued and is increasing,” said Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum. “However, even if we isolate the most vulnerable, we are all connected. These efforts to support and protect workers who assist our vulnerable populations are critical, as we also work to ensure that all Alaskans are as healthy as possible.”
“Hospital capacity is always limited in Alaska, which is one reason it’s so critical to keep our cases as low as possible,” said Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink. “Many Alaskans, and not just the elderly, are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We must ensure we have adequate testing supplies and PPE throughout Alaska, especially in congregate settings and in rural areas where access to health care is more limited. I’m grateful to Governor Dunleavy for his support in obtaining these needed supplies.”