Y-K Delta health corporation recommends regional lockdown for third straight month

A woman dressed in a white lab coat stands in front of a table. Another woman with protective gear stands in a dooray befhind her.
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)

As COVID-19 cases climb, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation recommends the entire region remain locked down for another month, through Feb. 28. This is the third consecutive month the health corporation has advocated for a region-wide lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19.

YKHC issued its initial lockdown recommendation on Nov. 16. Nearly all communities in the region complied. It issued another lockdown recommendation on Dec. 18. The lockdowns worked: COVID-19 numbers stabilized. But following the Christmas holidays, cases have begun to grow exponentially again. 

According to a press release from the health corporation advocating for the lockdown extension, YKHC recorded a 33% increase in new cases over the past week. In early January, they saw an increase in severe cases requiring hospitalizations and medevacs. Many of the severe cases have been people under 65.

On Jan. 19, everyone 16 and older in the region will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, making the region one of the first areas in the country to expand eligibility to the general population.

Over 3,660 people in the Y-K Delta have received a COVID-19 vaccine. About a fifth of those have received their second doses, according to YKHC Vice President of Communications, Tiffany Zulkosky.

YKHC encourages everyone eligible to receive a vaccine to suppress the widespread outbreak of the virus in the region. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta has held the highest COVID-19 case rate in Alaska since Oct. 2020, and maintains one of the highest case rates in the nation.