Halfway through July, number of COVID-19 cases tied to Y-K Delta doubles

YKHC announced that a Bethel resident that tested positive for COVID-19 had traveled to a Y-K Delta village while they were infectious. (Katie Basile/KYUK)

The number of known COVID-19 cases tied to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is growing rapidly, with two more announced on Tuesday.

So far, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation has reported 26 cases of COVID-19 linked to the region. Half of those cases were confirmed during the past two weeks, with YKHC announcing a new infection nearly every day this month.

One of the individuals who recently tested positive, one took a COVID-19 test at the Bethel airport and lives in a Y-K Delta village. YKHC said it’s not releasing the name of the village to protect patient privacy. However, the Emmonak Tribal Council posted to its Facebook page that an Emmonak resident tested positive for COVID-19 at the Bethel airport on Tuesday while traveling home.

The post said that Emmonak is on lockdown, and travel to other villages is prohibited. People in the community are only allowed to leave their homes “if it is absolutely necessary, i.e. shopping for groceries, going to fish camp to tend your smokehouse.” The post advises people to wear face masks, wash hands, and stay home.

“No visiting with others, even if it is your own family members,” it said.

The Emmonak Tribal Council said that the person who tested positive is self-isolating, and the council is coordinating with YKHC on community-wide testing.

The second person who tested positive in Bethel on Tuesday is not a Y-K Delta resident and is currently self-isolating.

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YKHC has opened testing sites at the airports of Aniak and St. Mary’s. The healthcare provider urges everyone traveling into the region to get tested at the airports. YKHC also offers free drive-thru testing at the Bethel hospital every Wednesday.

The healthcare corporation urges Y-K Delta residents to only travel for essential reasons, wash their hands, keep 6 feet away from others, and wear a mask in public.

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Anna Rose MacArthur is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.

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