COVID-19 cases spike in Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region

A hand with a blue glove drops a test tube in a ziploc bag held by two green hands.
YKHC technicians collect samples in June, 2020. (Katie Basile/KYUK)

The number of positive coronavirus cases in the Yukon-Kuskowkim Delta skyrocketed this weekend. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation announced 17 new cases on Aug. 22 and 23, marking the biggest spike in cases since mid-August. All 17 patients are currently self-isolating.

At least 12 of the new cases had been in close contact with prior positive cases. The news comes two weeks after YKHC set its previous record number of cases in one day: five people who tested positive after coming into contact with people who had already tested positive.

Read more stories about how the coronavirus is affecting rural Alaska

YKHC has announced 78 positive cases since March, and 26 of those cases are currently active. There have also been two deaths since July. The most recent death was announced last week, the first village resident from the region, who the state identified as a male in his 50s.

On Aug. 22, YKHC confirmed six positive cases: one Bethel resident, one non-resident, and four residents in a village that YKHC serves. The Bethel resident and the four village residents were close contacts of previous positive cases.

On Aug. 23, YKHC announced that eight people in a village in YKHC’s service area who had been in close contact with prior positive cases had also tested positive. A resident of a village YKHC serves also tested positive after close contact with a prior case. It’s unclear if those villages are the same ones.

Also on Aug. 23, YKHC confirmed that a Bethel resident had also tested positive, while a village resident was confirmed as positive through the rural healthcare provider’s airport testing. YKHC didn’t say where the person was tested. 

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