Kivalina on ‘high alert’ as 44 residents test positive for COVID-19

The moon sets behind a bluff
Kivalina, Alaska (Creative Commons)

This week, 44 residents of the Northwest Arctic village of Kivalina tested positive for COVID-19, according to regional health care provider Maniilaq Association.

In a release, Maniilaq officials said 30 residents tested positive on Monday, with another 14 testing positive Tuesday. The village is on high alert, with officials describing the situation as “widespread community transmission.”

Kivalina Tribal Administrator Millie Hawley said the tribe is working to ensure people in isolation are being cared for. 

“Hauling of water to each home that’s in quarantine, by request. Hauling fuel, in case they run out of fuel oil during their quarantine,” Hawley said. “We’re also doing grocery shopping: After they pay for their stuff at the store, they deliver the groceries to their door.”

Hawley said officials suspect the virus was transmitted by people coming together during the holidays. 

“Most of the folks in the households that are quarantined were celebrating Christmas week together,” Hawley said.

Hawley said locals are advised to follow the same health mandates issued months ago — hunker down, wear masks in public and avoid contact with non family members. The number of positive cases represents about 10% of the village’s 440 residents.

Maniilaq officials received the COVID-19 vaccine in December, and began vaccinating residents in the region, including Buckland, Kiana and Selawik, last weekend.