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Halfway Through July, Number Of COVID-19 Cases Related To Y-K Delta Doubles

Dr. Liz Bates prepares for COVID-19 testing at the YKHC testing tent on March 25, 2020. She and Dr. Ellen Hodges were recognized by Sen. Dan Sullivan for leading vaccination efforts in the Y-K Delta.
Katie Basile

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases related to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is growing rapidly, with two more announced on July 14. So far, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation has announced 26 cases of COVID-19 related to the region. Half of those cases were confirmed during the past two weeks. YKHC has announced a case nearly every day this month.

One of the individuals who tested positive on July 14 tested at the Bethel airport and lives in a Y-K Delta village. YKHC is not releasing the name of the village to protect patient privacy. However, the Emmonak Tribal Council posted to its Facebook page that an Emmonak resident tested positive for COVID-19 at the Bethel airport on July 14 while traveling home.

The post said that Emmonak is on lockdown, and travel to other villages is prohibited. People in the community are only allowed to leave their homes "if it is absolutely necessary, i.e. shopping for groceries, going to fish camp to tend your smokehouse.” The post advises people to wear face masks, wash hands, and stay home. “No visiting with others, even if it is your own family members,” the post said.

The Emmonak Tribal Council said that the individual who tested positive is self-isolating, and that the council is coordinating with YKHC on community-wide testing.

The second individual who tested positive in Bethel on July 14 is not a Y-K Delta resident and is currently self-isolating.

YKHC has opened testing sites at the airports of Aniak and St. Mary’s. The healthcare provider urges everyone traveling into the region to get tested at the airports. YKHC also offers free drive-thru testing at the Bethel hospital every Wednesday.

The healthcare corporation urges Y-K Delta residents to only travel for essential reasons, wash their hands, keep 6 feet away from others, and wear a mask in public.

Correction: References to June 14 in this story have been corrected to say July 14.