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About Half Of Quinhagak Residents Volunteer For Coronavirus Testing; All Results Negative So Far

A COVID-19 test sample is collected from the drive-thru test site run by the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation on April 14, 2020 in Bethel, Alaska.
Katie Basile

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation has completed its initial round of coronavirus testing in Quinhagak. All of the rapid test results have been negative, but hundreds more are currently being processed at a state lab, according to a YKHC news release.

On May 26, YKHC confirmed the region’s third positive case of the virus. That morning, a Quinhagak girl under the age of 10 who had flown to Bethel for medical care tested positive at the hospital. YKHC immediately dispatched a response team to the village.

By 3 p.m., six YKHC employees landed in Quinhagak and began testing people who had been in close contact with the child. Each close contact was tested twice: once with a rapid test, and again with a test to be sent to a state lab in Anchorage. All the rapid tests returned negative. Those tests sent to the state lab will be processed within three to five days from the point of testing.

The following morning, the response team began community-wide testing. All community members were asked to volunteer for testing and to arrive at the testing site in alphabetical order, according to their last name. Comunity leaders encouraged residents to participate. Rapid and lab tests were done, with all rapid results returning negative.

In total, over 350 Quinhagak residents volunteered for testing, about half of the village's population according to 2018 state population estimates. Some people could not be tested because they were out fishing. YKHC has advised the young girl and her close contacts to quarantine for two weeks until June 8. All community members have been asked to shelter in place until the lab results return.

YKHC encourages all Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta residents to continue practicing protective measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus by “physical distancing from anyone not residing in your household, regular handwashing, wearing a face covering in public, and regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces in your home." YKHC also urges all travelers flying into Bethel from outside the region to take a free coronavirus test outside the Bethel Alaska Airlines terminal.

Anna Rose MacArthur is the KYUK News Director. She has worked at KYUK since 2015 and previously worked at KNOM in Nome, Alaska.
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