MAT-SU — Mat-Su Regional Medical Center reached a new high for COVID-19 positive patients this week, and 42.1 % of all hospitalized patients at the 135-bed facility have tested positive for COVID-19. There were 808 new cases of COVID-19 among Alaska residents with 33 nonresident cases announced on Wednesday. There are currently 197 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alaska, which is a new high mark for the state on the second consecutive day. The entire state has reached the high alert level and more than one in every five people hospitalized in Alaska have tested positive for COVID-19. Last Friday, MSRMC CEO Dave Wallace pleaded to state leaders for assistance during a hearing of the House Health and Social Services Committee.
“We are in disaster mode here. We are in a situation where we don’t want to close or say we can’t accept the next patient,” said Wallace. “We find ourselves begging for the staff to please come back for the next shift because we absolutely need you because we’re stretched that thin.”
There are 26 patients who require ventilators across Alaska and only 26 Intensive Care Unit beds available in the entire state. There have been 442 Alaskans that have died due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. While 55.8 % of Alaskans are fully vaccinated, in the Mat-Su Valley, 55.8 % of the population have yet to receive a single dose of vaccination. There are 33,978 Alaskans who have received one dose and are awaiting their second dose of vaccination.
“It is a grim situation when our ER director says ‘I cry on the way to work and I cry on the way home and I try and hold it together the rest of the day.’ We know we are at an unprecedented level of stress,” said Wallace. “This disaster is now a year and a half old and it’s now at it’s very worst state and ironically, no one seems to want to even talk about it anymore let alone recognize that the hospital safety net is starting to fray and is very close to breaking.”
There are five ICU beds available at MSRMC despite 40 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, six of whom require ventilators. The new high mark for COVID-19 patients at MSRMC was reached on Monday and Tuesday with 42 COVID-19 patients, and there have been 674 new cases announced among Valley residents in the month of September alone. With new thresholds for alert levels, high alert is reached when an area has 100 cases or more per 100,000 residents within seven days. The Mat-Su has nearly reached the high alert level each day during the month of September.
There were 123 new cases of COVID-19 announced among Valley residents on Wednesday, 82 of those in Wasilla, 30 in Palmer, six in Houston and two in Big Lake. The seven-day rolling positivity for testing among Valley residents is at 16 %, and 39.3 % of Valley residents have become fully vaccinated. There are another 4,241 Valley residents who have received one dose and are awaiting their second dose of vaccination.