Rural Alaska at risk as COVID surge swamps faraway hospitals

    TANACROSS, Alaska (AP) — Alaska is experiencing one of the nation's sharpest upticks in COVID-19 infections, and it's worsened by a limited health care system that largely relies on hospitals in its biggest city.

    Many of the state's hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, including in Anchorage.

    And doctors are sometimes forced to prioritize care based on who has the best odds of survival.

    The ramifications are dire for those in rural Alaska if they need higher levels of care — for COVID-19 or otherwise.

    The closest hospital can be hours away, and patients could have to wait if no beds are available.

    Sometimes hospital staff are on the phone for hours looking to place patients, even in other states.

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