Which Y-K Delta Villages Are Restricting Travel To Protect Against Coronavirus?
Villages across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are figuring out how they can protect their communities from the spread of COVID-19. With Elders to care for, sparse health care infrastructure, overcrowded homes, and limited access to running water, some villages are taking drastic actions, like suspending all travel. Each village has taken a different approach to enforcing these restrictions. KYUK will update this list with community action plans as they emerge.
The Akiachak Native Community Tribal Council passed a measure on March 20 suspending all travel to the village by non-residents indefinitely. The measure tells residents to stay out of other villages and to only travel for medical purposes. Resident are also allowed to leave the village for subsistence activities. Residents returning to the village from Anchorage or out of state must quarantine themselves and their family for 14 days. Parents are asked to keep their children at home. Akiachak’s travel restrictions remain in place until further notice.
Akiak is telling its residents to stay within the Y-K Delta unless it is for health or legal reasons. Akiak Native Community Chief Mike Williams Sr. says that if residents do travel out of the region and come back, they are urged to stay home for two weeks. Williams Sr. also says that the village is requesting out of region visitors stay away unless they are providing essential emergency services. Akiak's policy will go into effect from March 23 until April 6, when it will be re-evaluated.
Chefornak suspended all business and non-essential travel for non-community members on March 21 until further notice. This includes inter-village travel, but pass-through travel will be permitted. Travel will still be permitted for medical reasons. All returning Chefornak community members will be required to self-quarantine in their homes for 14 days. The Chefornak Traditional Council will also be closed to the public for two weeks starting March 23.
The Chevak Traditional Council has suspended all non-essential travel in and out of the village by non-community members, except essential personnel, for the next 30 days or longer. Residents can leave the village for medical reasons but must provide a copy of their current health status from the health institution they visited. Anyone coming into the village from anywhere will have to self-quarantine along with their families for 14 days.
The Crooked Creek Traditional Council has limited outbound travel for residents to medical reasons only until further notice. Anyone entering the village is required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Freight and mail planes are still allowed to enter the community. The measure took effect March 24.
The tribal council office is now closed to the public, and the council asks that residents call ahead or schedule appointments. The council also advises residents to limit the number of visitors to their homes, especially those who live with Elders.
The Native Village of Eek is only allowing residents in and out of the village, and the tribe is restricting outbound travel to hospital emergencies and fuel pick-up. Village residents returning to Eek from out of state must enter a 14-day quarantine with their family. People showing COVID-19 symptoms are also recommended to enter quarantine. Group events are cancelled. Tribal buildings are closed to the public, and residents are asked to practice 6-foot social distancing from one another. The store is operating with shortened hours and limiting the number of customers allowed inside.
The Emmonak Tribal Council sent a letter to its residents on March 20, suggesting for anyone who traveled out of the village to self-quarantine for 14 days. The letter also states that the Emmonak sub-regional clinic has two isolation rooms, which are rooms that have separate airflow from the rest of the building.
"All travel is suspended for the community of Grayling for 30 days," including trips between villages, according to a community action plan passed by the Grayling IRA Tribal Council. If you leave the village, you will not be allowed to return for 30 days. There are exceptions for community members with serious medical conditions.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., only Elders age 55 or older are allowed in Grayling's store. The Grayling Tribe authorized $250 for every household in Grayling to buy household essentials.
Hooper Bay declared a Tribal Health Emergency Disaster on March 23 that says "no 'Outsiders' are to enter the native village of Hooper Bay without approval." Hooper Bay is now also closing its boarder to Chevak, following the first positive case in Bethel. Tribal council voted on April 7th to stop travel requests of tribal members in and out of Hooper Bay. They are asking people to stop requesting permission to visit Chevak and are asking people outside the community to stop submitting travel requests to enter Hooper Bay. Anyone traveling to Hooper Bay from Bethel, Anchorage or further are required to quaratine themselves for 14 days.
Kalskag residents are urged not to travel between communities or to larger cities except for emergency care. Anyone coming from Aniak, Bethel, or Anchorage must self-quarantine for 14 days.
All travel is suspended for the community of Kasigluk, beginning March 20 until further notice, with exceptions for medical appointments. Inter-village travel is also not permitted. Any residents coming from Bethel or beyond will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. The Kasigluk Tribal building is also closed to the public.
The Kotlik Tribal Council has suspended all travel, including inter-village trips, for 30 days, effective March 23. Residents may leave the village for “serious medical conditions,” and upon their return, will be required to self-quarantine with all household members for 30 days. The Tribal Government Staff will organize food delivery to those in quarintine. If a resident chooses to leave the village for other reasons, they will not be allowed back for 30 days and will have to present proof they have been screened for COVID-19. The only non-residents allowed in Kotlik are law enforcement and healthcare workers. People arriving at the Kotlik airport are being directed to quarantine facilities. The Tribal Council is forbidding anyone who does not comply from entering tribal lands.
Kwethluk is advising its residents not to travel except for short-term trips for medical reasons or to acquire essential household needs, according to Mayor Boris Epchook. When residents return to the village, they are told to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. Gatherings of more than 25 people are banned.
The village of Napaimute is accepting visitors by appointment only.
The Native Village of Napakiak is the latest tribe to restrict travel to protect its residents against the coronavirus. The Council is urging residents to only travel for health and legal reasons; has implemented a 9 p.m. curfew; closed the tribal office, ICWA, TANF and IGAP offices to the public and is only accepting planes carrying freight and mail and residents]. The tribe has banned non-resident from flying into the village and is urging residents to check on Elders and adhere to CDC guidelines about sanitizing homes.
The Napaskiak Tribal Council is advising its residents to avoid inter-village travel as much as possible. The guidelines given to residents also says to reschedule medical appointments for non-chronic conditions for a later date. Residents who do travel to other communities are told to go straight home and stay home when they return to Napaskiak. The Napaskiak Tribal building will close its doors to the public on March 23, and services will be conducted over the phone.
Nightmute is encouraging its residents not to travel to other villages or Bethel. The village's March 19 public notice says "we must keep our families confined to ourselves within our homes and not allow family members visiting anyone else for the next two weeks."
The Native Village of Nunapitchuk has suspended travel out of the community for 30 days, except for emergency health care. Non-residents will require permission from both the Tribal President and Mayor to enter the village. If a confirmed case of COVID-19 appears in the Y-K Delta, the tribe will restrict residents from traveling to other villages or hubs. Residents and their family members returning to the community from Bethel or Anchorage are asked to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. Residents are to inform local police or health aides if anyone in their household shows COVID-19 symptoms, and will require those people to self-quarantine.
The Native Village of Kwinhagak IRA council, the City of Quinhagak, and the Qanirtuuq Inc. Board of Directors have jointly issued a mandate to stop all non-residents from traveling into Quinhagak. Only emergency and essential personnel will be allowed into the village. Residents are also required to remain in the village except for medical emergencies or essential reasons. Those returning to the village will be required to self-quarantine for two-weeks. These restrictions remain in place through June 15. Village authorities also warn that residents who don’t follow local, state, and federal guidelines could face criminal charges.
Stony River Traditional Council is no longer allowing non-residents into the village. The council's notice of their new travel policy said that people could leave the village, but they may not be allowed to return. Exceptions will only be allowed for medical travel or emergencies. Stony River's policy will go into effect March 24, and last until "COVID-19 has been under control."
The Native Village of Toksook Bay declared a Public Health Emergency March 20. All non-essential travel is prohibited. People returning to the community will be required to quarantine for 14 days. The Nunakauyak Traditional Council is creating a Quarantine Task Force and setting up quarantine facilities at the school, office buildings, and other locations. The Quarantine Task Force will meet returning community members at the airport and escort them to the quarantine locations.
Travel to Tuntutuliak is prohibited by anyone outside the Y-K Delta unless they are residents of the village. Tuntutuliak's traditional council enacted the policy March 19. All business travel from outside Tuntutuliak is also suspended. Pass-through travel via snowmachine or four-wheeler is still allowed. Travel for medical reasons is still permitted for residents, but community members have been advised to avoid inter-village travel.
The Native Village of Tununak has advised non-residents to stay away from the community, and is requiring residents who return to the community to isolate themselves and their family for 14 days. Tununak Tribal Council President Theodore Angiak says that the tribe has asked airlines to tell passengers that everyone who enters Tununak must self-isolate for two weeks, and to tell non-residents not to enter. Angiak says that the community is not currently turning anyone away who flies into the village.
The tribe has implemented a 9 p.m. curfew and restricted gatherings to 10 people or less. The tribal council is requiring residents to adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including standing 6 feet away from other people. The council has not given a deadline of when these requirements will be lifted.
The Tuluksak Native Community Council is turning away non-residents from entering the village to protect the community from coronavirus.
Council President Middy Peter said that the tribe has asked airlines to screen passengers for symptoms and residency before flying, and said that Tuluksak’s airport agent will not let non-resident passengers get off the plane. The only exceptions are for healthcare workers from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, and a mechanic who helps maintain the Tuluksak power plant. Tuluksak has more than 350 people, according to the last census count, and Peter says that the agent knows everyone who lives in the village.
The tribe has also suspended residents from participating in inter-village travel except for medical reasons. Residents from neighboring villages need the tribe’s permission to enter Tuluksak. The council has shut its office doors to the public, and is urging residents to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If your community is restricting travel, let KYUK and the rest of the Y-K Delta community know by emailing email@example.com.