COVID-19 cases confirmed in St. Lawrence Island communities

Three relatively small windmills turn above small, one-story homes. Green grass in the foreground and thick fog in the background .
An overview of Gambell, Alaska. (Photo from KNOM file.)

An individual located in Gambell tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Norton Sound Health Corporation confirmed in an email on Tuesday evening.

This case is the first one publicly confirmed by NSHC in the St. Lawrence Island community. However, KNOM has previously reported on other cases from un-named communities in the region.

According to NSHC, this newest patient was tested as a close contact of the individual in Savoonga who was confirmed as a positive case on Sunday. Although the state Section of Epidemiology and Public Health Nursing will do further investigation into the case and their close contacts, NSHC believes the case from Savoonga and the latest from Gambell, are connected.

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When NSHC announced the Savoonga individual had tested positive for the virus, a cause for the spread was not given at the time, but now the regional health corporation is saying these two cases might have resulted from travel.

NSHC says widespread community transmission of the coronavirus is not suspected on the island, but Gambell’s leaders are encouraging their residents to get tested and practice safety measures.

NSHC recommends people in the Norton Sound region continue to maintain social distance, wear a face mask in public and wash their hands frequently.

If you live in a regional community outside of Nome, call your local clinic to arrange a COVID-19 test. NSHC is conserving their rapid tests at this time, so expect your test results will take longer to receive back.