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Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage modified to care for COVID-19 patients

Beds set up at the Alaska Airlines Center. The Municipality of Anchorage has set up a medical alternate care site at the center in case hospitals are overwhelmed COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy the Municipality of Anchorage)

The Alaska Airlines Center is now equipped to hold up to 150 COVID-19 patients who need basic support if hospitals become overwhelmed, according to a statement from the city.

Preparations began at the center last week and the city said it will be used for “patients who are stable but require medical observation and basic support.” Bleachers have been folded up in the arena and the gym floor was lined with green cots. The center is a 5,000 seat multi-use arena located on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.

Alaska hospitals are currently meeting the demand for patient care, but the center will act as an additional facility if the need arises, according to the statement. State health officials estimated last week there are about 160 ICU beds and 200 ventilators throughout the state. There are about 2,000 hospital beds total in Alaska.

“When our local hospitals experience an overwhelming surge of patients as a result of COVID-19, we need decompression plans like an alternate care site at the ready,” said Anchorage Health Department Director Natasha Pineda in a statement.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska surpassed 100 Saturday and two Alaskans have died from the virus: one in Anchorage and one in Washington state.

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