State reports five COVID-19 infections at Bethel Youth Facility

Samples for COVID-19 testing are collected using a cotton swab like the one pictured here from the lab at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation hospital in Bethel, Alaska. (Katie Basile/KYUK)

Four staff and one young Alaskan at the Bethel Youth Facility have tested positive for the coronavirus, state health officials said Wednesday.

The cluster of cases comes as the region records record-high infection numbers.

The Bethel Youth Facility can house about two dozen young Alaskans, and includes a detention unit and a treatment unit.

The youth who tested positive for COVID-19 at the facility experienced mild symptoms, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. The department said Wednesday that the individual but has since recovered and completed medical isolation.

The department reported that all other youth in the facility received negative test results last week, and that close contacts of the four positive staff cases have been tested.

Both youth and close-contact staff members at the facility are tested weekly, the health department said. All new residents admitted are tested upon admission, placed on quarantine for 14 days, and given another test before the end of their quarantine period.

Visitation at the Bethel Youth Facility has been suspended.

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