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First Person In Bethel Hospitalized For COVID-19, Dies In Anchorage

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 first person in Bethel has died of COVID-19. The same person was also the first person in the region to be hospitalized and medevaced for the virus. The person was not a resident of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation says that the person tested positive for the virus in Bethel, where they remained in self-isolation. YKHC says that its staff made daily calls to monitor the symptoms and condition of the patient. 

Over this past weekend, the patient’s condition worsened. The individual arrived at the Bethel emergency room and was medevaced to Anchorage for advanced care, where the patient died. The person is the 21st Alaskan to die of the disease.

YKHC has announced 29 cases of COVID-19 related to the region. Over half of those cases have occurred this month. The rising number of cases in the region follows the increase across the state. On July 26, the state reported its highest daily tally for the pandemic at 231 new diagnoses of the virus. Also, over the weekend a Fairbanks resident died of the disease. 

YKHC urges everyone to remain vigilant and practice all known protective measures against COVID-19. There is no vaccine for this novel virus. Protective measures include avoiding all non-essential travel, regularly washing hands, staying 6 feet away from non-household members, wearing a mask when in public, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces. 

YKHC also urges everyone traveling into the region to get tested for the virus for free at the Bethel, Aniak, and St. Mary’s airports. Free testing is also offered at the Bethel hospital every Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. No appointment is needed.

Correction: The original version of this story said the person who died was a resident of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. That information is incorrect. The person was self-isolating in Bethel and was an Alaska resident, but was not a resident of the region.