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COVID Community Spread Confirmed In Nunapitchuk

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 confirmed the community spread of COVID-19 in Nunapitchuk after a positive case in the village could not be linked to travel. YKHC, along with the Native Village of Nunapitchuk and the City of Nunapitchuk, released the information on Sept. 16, 2020. Nunapitchuk is the second village in the region, not including Bethel, where health officials have found evidence of community spread.


Community spread of the virus means that contact tracers cannot link new cases to travel. The news comes a week after YKHC confirmed community spread of the virus in Bethel when tracers couldn’t link three positive cases to travel, the main mode of infection. 

Nunapitchuk was the first village in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to lock down because of the coronavirus after a traveler tested positive in May. The community is still locked down, since case numbers rose and a village resident died from complications related to the virus. 

So far, YKHC has confirmed 118 positive cases in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Eighteen of those are active, which means that the patients are currently recovering.

YKHC 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 parking lot every Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. No appointment is needed. Testing by appointment continues at the Bethel drive-thru testing tent on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Call 907-543-6949 to set up an appointment. YKHC also encourages wearing masks in public, social distancing, and quarantining after travel.

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