Villages across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are looking for ways to protect their communities from the spread of COVID-19. The state has not restricted air travel, despite calls to do so, but with elders to care for, sparse health care infrastructure, overcrowded homes and limited access to running water, many villages are putting their own restrictions in place.
(This is a list from KYUK, last updated March 24.)
Akiak is telling its residents to stay within the Y-K Delta unless it is for health or legal reasons. Akiak Native Community Chief Mike Williams Sr. says that if residents do travel out of the region and come back, they are urged to stay home for two weeks. Williams Sr. also says that the village is requesting out of region visitors stay away unless they are providing essential emergency services. Akiak’s policy will go into effect from March 23 until April 6, when it will be re-evaluated.
Chefornak suspended all business and non-essential travel for non-community members on March 21 until further notice. This includes inter-village travel, but pass-through travel will be permitted. Travel will still be permitted for medical reasons. All returning Chefornak community members will be required to self-quarantine in their homes for 14 days. The Chefornak Traditional Council will also be closed to the public for two weeks starting March 23.
The Native Village of Eek is only allowing residents in and out of the village, and the tribe is restricting outbound travel to hospital emergencies and fuel pick-up. Village residents returning to Eek from out of state must enter a 14-day quarantine with their family. People showing COVID-19 symptoms are also recommended to enter quarantine. Group events are canceled. Tribal buildings are closed to the public, and residents are asked to practice 6-foot social distancing from one another. The store is operating with shortened hours and limiting the number of customers allowed inside.
The Emmonak Tribal Council sent a letter to its residents on March 20, suggesting for anyone who traveled out of the village to self-quarantine for 14 days. The letter also states that the Emmonak sub-regional clinic has two isolation rooms. The rooms have separate airflow from the rest of the building.
“All travel is suspended for the community of Grayling for 30 days,” including trips between villages, according to a community action plan passed by the Grayling IRA Tribal Council. If you leave the village, you will not be allowed to return for 30 days. There are exceptions for community members with serious medical conditions.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., only elders age 55 or older are allowed in Grayling’s store. The Grayling Tribe authorized $250 for every household in Grayling to buy household essentials.
Kalskag residents are urged not to travel between communities or to larger cities except for emergency care. Anyone coming from Aniak, Bethel or Anchorage must self-quarantine for 14 days.
All travel is suspended for the community of Kasigluk, beginning March 20 until further notice, with exceptions for medical appointments. Inter-village travel is also not permitted. Any residents coming from Bethel or beyond will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. The Kasigluk Tribal building is also closed to the public.
Kwethluk is advising its residents not to travel except for short-term trips for medical reasons or to acquire essential household needs, according to Mayor Boris Epchook. When residents return to the village, they are told to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. Gatherings of more than 25 people are banned.
The village of Napaimute is accepting visitors by appointment only.
The Native Village of Napakiak is the latest tribe to restrict travel to protect its residents against the coronavirus. The Council is urging residents to only travel for health and legal reasons. It has implemented a 9 p.m. curfew, closed the tribal office, ICWA, TANF and IGAP offices to the public and is only accepting planes carrying freight, mail and residents. The tribe has banned non-residents from flying into the village and is urging residents to check on elders and adhere to CDC guidelines about sanitizing homes.
The Napaskiak Tribal Council is advising its residents to avoid inter-village travel as much as possible. The guidelines given to residents also say they should reschedule medical appointments for non-chronic conditions for a later date. Residents who do travel to other communities are told to go straight home and stay home when they return to Napaskiak. The Napaskiak Tribal building will close its doors to the public on March 23, and services will be conducted over the phone.
Nightmute is encouraging its residents not to travel to other villages or Bethel. The village’s March 19 public notice says “we must keep our families confined to ourselves within our homes and not allow family members visiting anyone else for the next two weeks.”
The Native Village of Nunapitchuk has suspended travel out of the community for 30 days, except for emergency health care. Non-residents must require permission from both the tribal president and mayor to enter the village. If a confirmed case of COVID-19 appears in the Y-K Delta, the tribe will restrict residents from traveling to other villages or hubs. Residents and their family members returning to the community from Bethel or Anchorage are asked to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. Residents are to inform local police or health aides if anyone in their household shows COVID-19 symptoms, and will require those people to self-quarantine.
Stony River Traditional Council is no longer allowing non-residents into the village. The council’s notice of their new travel policy said that people could leave the village, but they may not be allowed to return. Exceptions will only be allowed for medical travel or emergencies. Stony River’s policy will go into effect March 24, and last until “COVID-19 has been under control.”
The Native Village of Toksook Bay declared a public health emergency on March 20. All non-essential travel is prohibited. People returning to the community will be required to quarantine for 14 days. The Nunakauyak Traditional Council is creating a Quarantine Task Force and setting up quarantine facilities at the school, office buildings, and other locations. The task force will meet returning community members at the airport and escort them to the quarantine locations.
Travel to Tuntutuliak is prohibited by anyone outside the Y-K Delta unless they are residents of the village. Tuntutuliak’s traditional council enacted the policy on March 19. All business travel from outside Tuntutuliak is also suspended. Pass-through travel via snowmachine or four-wheeler is still allowed. Travel for medical reasons is still permitted for residents, but community members have been advised to avoid inter-village travel.
The Native Village of Tununak has advised non-residents to stay away from the community, and is requiring residents who return to the community to isolate themselves and their family for 14 days. Tununak Tribal Council President Theodore Angiak says that the tribe has asked airlines to tell passengers that everyone who enters Tununak must self-isolate for two weeks, and to tell non-residents not to enter. Angiak says that the community is not currently turning anyone away who flies into the village.
The tribe has implemented a 9 p.m. curfew and restricted gatherings to 10 people or less. The tribal council is requiring residents to adhere to guidelines from the U.A. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including standing 6 feet away from other people. The council has not given a deadline of when these requirements will be lifted.
If your community is restricting travel, let KYUK and the rest of the Y-K Delta community know by emailing email@example.com.