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COVID cases spike as Fairbanks is nearly last in statewide vaccination rates

Dr. Mark Simon, an emergency physician at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, said the number of...
Dr. Mark Simon, an emergency physician at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, said the number of people checked into the hospital for COVID-19 is near its highest peak since the pandemic began.(Sarah Hollister)
Published: Apr. 24, 2021 at 5:13 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Interior COVID-19 cases are spiking - and with Fairbanks nearly last in vaccination rates, doctors at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital (FMH) are worried that this trend could mean big trouble for the city.

Emergency Physician, Mark Simon, said the number of COVID-19 patients in FMH is near its peak. “I worked some shifts last weekend and definitely noticed an uptick in cases. More people coming in with COVID,” he said. “It’s sad to see. We are definitely seeing a surge here.”

Simon said with only 33.4% of Fairbanks residents fully vaccinated, there is still a lot of risk for COVID transmission. “The communities that have high vaccination rates have very little transmission of COVID-19. The communities that have low vaccination rates have very high levels of transmission of COVID-19.”

Simon went on to explain, “We know that the more people that get COVID-19 that some percentage of those people are going to get very sick and require hospitalization. Some of those people are going to get very sick and die. Some of those people are going to get very sick and be dealing with long COVID for months and months and months - a disease process that we don’t understand very well and is debilitating.”

Dr. Simon said this is not a time to hunker down, but to spread the message on the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. “We all want to get on with life, and we all need to get on with life. This is not a message that we all need to stay home and have our masks on inside the house with our windows shut,” Simon said. “We all need to get on with living, fully vaccinated - because when we have all fully vaccinated, the disease burden in our community will go down… incredibly.”

Dr. Simon says during the month of May, the state is making a concerted effort to communicate with everyone about getting vaccinated. “We are encouraging all of our community leaders to engage in this process. Talk to their employees, talk to their employers, talk to their neighbors, talk to their friends, talk to their teachers, talk to their students about COVID and vaccination, and what we can all do to keep our community healthy - so again, we can be living our lives like we want to be living our lives.”

If you or someone you know would like to get vaccinated, the Carlson Center is hosting a vaccination clinic on Tuesday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and hundreds of appointment slots are still available.

More information can be found on the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services website.

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