Alaska is increasing its health care and testing capacity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
“You are buying valuable time,” Dunleavy said at a press conference in Anchorage Thursday, adding by taking steps to mitigate the spread of the virus Alaskans are helping the state build it supplies of equipment and emergency facilities.
The Department of Health and Social Services has secured a second 10,000-square-foot warehouse, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, who said the state had received medical supplies from the federal government.
In addition to the supplies from outside the state, private companies within the state were switching their production to the creation of masks, swabs and sanitizer.
According to an extensive slide-show presentation given by Zink, the state has over 10,000 N95 respirator masks in its stockpiles and more than 65,000 surgical masks. Questions have been raised in the past about the number of ventilators the state had in its possession, a number Zink said was hard to pin down because not all of them were in working conditions.
There were currently 305 ventilators already in hospitals around the state, Zink said, and another 70 in the stockpile. The federal government recently sent 60 ventilators to the state, but the state is testing how many of those were in working condition.
“Ventilators have to be a very precise machine,” Zink said, as the machines are used to take over a person’s lung function. “We are in the process of testing of all of those,” she said.
DHSS also announced a new website with interactive maps and graphs breaking down Alaska’s COVID-19 data by age, gender and region and shows the number of tests being done in the state.
Zink’s presentation also showed that the recently passed federal CARES Act would provide $90,000 for smaller hospitals, including Bartlett Regional Hospital. That money would be available to the state by late April, the presentation said.
Since Wednesday, there were three additional COVID-19 cases, all in Fairbanks, bringing the state’s total to 147.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.