Dr Angelique Ramirez, chief medical officer of the main health system in Fairbanks, Alaska, kicked off the monthly coronavirus briefing in April, saying she said the March meeting would be the last. But amid a new influx of cases in the state, one of the worst jumps in the country, Dr. Ramirez was candid about her past assessment.
“I was wrong,” she said.
With nearly 100,000 people, the Fairbanks metropolitan area is the second largest and largest in the vast interior of Alaska. According to a New York Times database, the number of new cases of coronavirus in the Fairbanks neighborhood is The North Star has risen 253 percent in the past two weeks. The rate of positivity has doubled since March to about 1
“This place is on fire with Kovid,” Dr. Barb Creighton, an intern at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, told the meeting.
Experts are not sure what drives the wave, although low levels of vaccination certainly play a role. Thirty-six percent of Alaska is fully vaccinated, and in some neighborhoods that number is over 50 percent, but in the Fairbanks area, only 29 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
“There’s not a big outbreak or two big outbreaks that really are the cause,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, an Alaska state epidemiologist. “We have cases and clusters associated with a wide range of different settings.”
Because two-thirds of the older population in Fairbanks received at least one dose of vaccine, those who were recently hospitalized in Fairbanks were younger than Covid’s patients in the winter, when there was a peak in the number of cases. Dr Creighton said the people who were hospitalized in April were between 40 and 50 years old and were unvaccinated as they waited to see what side effects could come from receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
“We see them stay longer because they don’t die,” Dr. Creighton said. “We give them non-invasive ventilation and they stay for two, three weeks and turn around, which I was never proud of anymore.”
But while these older patients during the winter peak were largely grateful to receive care, the hospitalized now feel differently.
“Some of these people are people who are anti-waxers, anti-maskers, and they don’t believe they have Covid or are sick because of it, and our staff is quite angry,” said Shelley Ebenal, chief executive of the health system. said the Health Partners Foundation, asking the trustees of the system to share with them their assessment of the hospital staff.
She sounded a terrible warning: “We are not outside Kovid and in particular our staff is not outside Kovid. Our morale is really low. “