Which Y-K Villages Have Locked Down
Nearly all tribal councils across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta have locked down their villages to slow the spread of COVID-19. In a virtual town hall on Nov. 23, Association of Village Council Presidents CEO Vivian Korthuis said that at least 45 of the region’s 48 communities “are in either lockdown, hunker down, or shelter in place.” AVCP could not reach the remaining three communities by phone last week.
The region has one of the highest COVID-19 case rates in the country, and the highest in the state. Last week, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation recommended a month-long, region-wide lockdown to prevent cases from overwhelming the local health care system. Many communities were already locked down, and some tightened or extended their restrictions following the health corporation’s recommendation.
Here is a list of the community restrictions that KYUK has confirmed so far. KYUK will update this list as we get more information. Share your community’s COVID-19 restrictions with KYUK at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Akiachak Tribal Council chairman Fritz George said that Akiachak has been locked down since March. The council recently extended its restrictions another month after YKHC recommended a region-wide lockdown. Only people with hospital appointments can travel to Bethel, and they must receive a negative test result before returning to Akiachak. Airlines also must clear their passenger lists with the local COVID-19 team before departing for Akiachak. George said that he worries if winter trails to Bethel open, community spread will occur in the village. The tribe plans to keep the trails closed for at least another month.
Akiak locked down on Nov. 15 when the village received its first confirmed positive COVID-19 test results. Akiak Council President Mike Williams Sr. said that Akiak advocated for a region-wide lockdown before YKHC issued its recommendation. Akiak’s lockdown prohibits community members from gathering with people from other households. Churches and schools are shut down. Curfew starts at 10 p.m. daily, and only essential workers can work. Stores are taking phone orders, and customers can pick up their items in front of the store. Tribal police are delivering groceries to those in quarantine. Travel is only allowed for medical emergencies, and when residents return they must quarantine for two weeks. YKHC recently tested all community members in a mass COVID-19 testing event. Akiak is building permanent quarantine duplexes, and Williams Sr. said that they may be completed by Spring 2021.
The Aniak City Council and the mayor of Aniak issued an eight-day shelter in place mandate on Nov. 18. Residents can leave their homes only for essential needs, and when in public must practice social distancing. Aniak is allowing subsistence-based and outdoor activities, but requires people to take part alone, or only with other household members. Anyone returning to Aniak from other communities during this period must quarantine for 14 days.
Chefornak issued a month-long lockdown on Nov. 17. Residents are asked to stay at home except for essential reasons. People must wear masks and practice social distancing in public. The store is only taking phone orders and delivering groceries. In and outbound travel is restricted to those with medical emergencies. Travelers attempting to enter Chefornak without proper authorization will be sent back on the same plane at their own expense.
The Native Village of Eek enacted a 30-day emergency lockdown on Nov. 17 in accordance with YKHC’s recommendation. Travel outside the community is allowed only for medical reasons, emergencies, and court visits. People are to remain in their homes except for essential reasons, and must wear a mask in public. The store will only take phone orders for delivery or pick up. People must work from home whenever possible and cannot gather with other households. The Native Village of Eek is encouraging everyone to wash their hands frequently and keep their homes sanitized.
Goodnews Bay entered emergency lockdown on the evening of Nov. 9, 15 minutes after being notified of their first confirmed positive cases. Goodnews Bay is in the jurisdiction of Bristol Bay Health Corporation, but made the decision to extend their lockdown to follow YKHC’s recommendation. Their current lockdown is set to expire on Dec. 9, with the possibility of another extension. Only essential businesses are open, and travel is banned. The Native Village of Goodnews Bay is encouraging people with medical emergencies to first call or visit the local clinic, which will determine if outside emergency medical care is needed.
The Native Village of Kalskag has mandated that anyone returning from essential trips in Aniak, Bethel, or Anchorage must quarantine for 14 days. No gatherings are allowed. It urges anyone feeling ill to quarantine and contact the local clinic at 907-471-2276.
Kipnuk Tribal Administrator Nicholai Slim said that the village has been locked down since Oct. 2. On Nov. 24, the Tribal Council renewed the lockdown for another month, following YKHC’s recommendation for a month-long, region-wide lockdown. The restrictions include a mask mandate, and prohibit gatherings with people from other households. People can only travel for emergency medical care, and must quarantine when they get back to Kipnuk. Stores are either limiting the number of people inside at any one time, or only taking orders over the phone.
Kongiganak has been locked down since Sept. 9, and re-issued their community guidelines last week. The guidelines direct residents to avoid social gatherings, keep their homes sanitized, and wear masks in public. There is a 9 p.m. curfew for school-aged children and a 12 a.m. curfew for adults. Essential workers may work, but must wear masks and practice social distancing. The traditional council discourages travel. If residents must travel, they are required to quarantine for 14 days after their return. The first violation of this mandate results in a written warning, the second in a $1,000 fine, and the third time a person violates the mandate, they must report to the local jail for the duration of their quarantine and pay a $2,000 fine.
Though the Traditional Council of Kotlik has not officially locked down the city, they have tightened travel restrictions. Kotlik is only allowing travel for emergency medical reasons, and anyone who leaves for non-medical reasons cannot return until January 2021. Entities such as the traditional council, the post office, and the city have preparedness plans that could be enacted in the case of a first confirmed positive COVID-19 test result. Kotlik is also enforcing a mask mandate in public indoor spaces.
The Native Village of Marshall, the City of Marshall, and the Ohogamiut Traditional Council have been enforcing COVID-19 restrictions since Oct. 20, until further notice. Marshall does not allow any non-essential travel into or out of the village. Residents who return from outside travel must quarantine for 14 days, or until they have a negative test result verified by the Marshall Beach Patrol. Gatherings are limited to Marshall residents only. Attendees must wear masks at indoor gatherings. In-store shopping is limited to 10 people at a time. Any non-residents traveling to Marshall for essential purposes must wear face masks at all times and avoid contact with community members.
Napakiak locked down on Aug. 24, effective until further notice. Only essential non-community members are allowed in, such as health care workers, contractors, and mail and freight workers. There is a mask and social distancing mandate for all public spaces, and a daily 9 p.m. curfew. People can leave for necessary health and legal matters, but must quarantine when they return. The Native Village of Napakiak is urging residents to call the clinic rather than visit in person if they feel sick, to keep their homes sanitized, and to check on Elders and help them to meet their needs. The Native Village of Napakiak is also encouraging subsistence hunters and gatherers to take plenty of gas with them when they travel so that they do not need to stop at other communities’ fuel stations.
Napaskiak locked down on Oct. 21, effective until further notice. Napaskiak residents can only travel for medical emergencies. People are asked to stay at home as much as possible, and they must wear a mask and socially distance when in public. The store is only taking orders over the phone, and the post office will only allow one person inside at a time. Only essential workers may work.
Nunapitchuk’s lockdown started Oct. 29. Community members and outsiders may only travel in or out for medical reasons, and must first receive authorization from the tribal council. The store is only taking orders over the phone, and both the store and the laundromat must regularly sanitize. Only a few people at a time can be inside the post office. The council has hired quarantine workers, who deliver groceries and run other necessary errands for those in quarantine. Residents can call Nunapitchuk’s Quarantine Coordinator if they are in lockdown and need assistance.
Pilot Station asks non-resident visitors to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Anyone traveling to Pilot Station must take a COVID-19 test beforehand. People should only convene within their own households, and should only travel when necessary.
The Platinum Traditional Village issued an emergency order, in effect from Nov. 3 until further notice. The order restricts travel to and from Platinum to essential medical reasons. Returning residents must quarantine, and if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 they must self-isolate for 10 days. After they have received a negative test result, they must quarantine for another 14 days. The postmaster will contact community members who have mail to pick up. The village asks residents to call the post office before coming in the building.
Quinhagak locked down on Oct. 9, effective until further notice. Only essential businesses are open, and people must wear masks inside. The grocery store is only taking phone orders; shoppers can pick up their groceries outside. Residents are able to travel in and out of the village, but their travel must be approved by the tribe. No outsiders are allowed into the community unless they are essential workers. People who travel to Quinhagak must quarantine for 14 days. Normal subsistence activities are allowed, but people can only go with others from their household. The village’s COVID-19 team delivers necessities to Elders and people in quarantine, and patrols the town to make sure that people aren’t gathering.
Toksook Bay has been locked down since Nov. 6. They are considering a 30-day extension from Nov. 16, the day YKHC released their recommendation for a month-long, region-wide lockdown. The restrictions include a mask mandate, no in-store shopping, and limiting one person in the post office at a time. Subsistence travel is allowed, but residents can only travel with people from their household. Toksook Bay is only allowing travel for essential reasons on a case-by-case basis. Recently, they approved inbound travel by a woman from Chefornak during their power outage so that she could stay with her daughter in Toksook Bay. Village Administrator Robert Pitka said that even if they lift their lockdown soon, many restrictions will remain in place.
The Native Village of Tuntutuliak amended their restrictions mandate on Nov. 12. The village is suspending all non-essential travel. This includes pass-through travelers who may only stop in an emergency and under specific guidelines. Community members who return from outside medical appointments must quarantine for 14 days. Subsistence travel is allowed, but residents must check in and out with the Native Village of Tuntutuliak. Gatherings are limited to 10 people, and the traditional council will not hold any gatherings until further notice. Churches may remain open, but churchgoers must wear masks and socially distance.