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Third Coronavirus Case Confirmed In Y-K Delta

Greg Kim

On May 26, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation confirmed a third case of coronavirus in an unnamed village resident, days after Gov. Mike Dunleavy lifted many restrictions that had been instituted to slow the spread of the virus. 

YKHC said that the person was in Bethel when the hospital tested them positive for coronavirus. YKHC spokesperson Mitchell Forbes couldn’t say whether the person was traveling outside the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta before they came into town.

"I don’t think it could be today [May 26], if we could say if it’s a travel-related case or not," Forbes said. 

YKHC tested the person twice: first with rapid testing, and then with a swab that will be sent to the state lab. These results  can take a few days, and the person is now self-isolating. Forbes said that YKHC notified the village of the test results. Forbes said that contract tracers have started piecing together the person’s recent contact history, and a response team has been sent to the village to test and screen residents.

This is the third confirmed coronavirus case in the Y-K Delta, and the second case that had contact with a village. YKHC confirmed the region’s first case in April, and the second one more than a month later at the Bethel airport. That person then traveled to Nunapitchuk before the positive test results came back. The village immediately locked down after YKHC notified village leaders of the test results. The health corporation sent out a team to test residents with rapid testing, and then sent those swabs to the state lab in Anchorage to double check the results. On May 22, YKHC announced that all of those test results came back negative from the state lab.

YKHC is offering free testing to everyone who comes through Bethel's Alaska Airlines Terminal, but less than half accept. On May 25, Memorial Day, YKHC was not at the airport; the organization later said that they did not know an Alaska Airlines flight was scheduled for that day.