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First COVID-19 Death In Y-K Delta In Four Months

On Jan. 19, 2021, anyone age 16 or older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
Loren Holmes

A Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta resident in their 80s died due to coronavirus complications on July 26. That was the first COVID-19 related death in the region in over four months.  

COVID-19 cases are surging back, both nationally and in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, due to the more infectious and more dangerous delta variant. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are all increasing, primarily driven by viral transmission from unvaccinated individuals. 

After three months without any hospitalizations, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation announced five hospitalizations in Bethel due to COVID-19 in July. The number of people testing positive for the virus has also sharply increased in recent weeks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reversed its guidance on masks this week, saying that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should wear masks if they live in areas with substantial or high transmission of the virus. That includes all of the Y-K Delta and parts of Alaska.

Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated to stem the surge. YKHC Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges said that most of the region’s recent cases are in unvaccinated individuals, although some vaccinated people are becoming infected. However, Hodges said that among the vaccinated people in the region who have gotten COVID-19, most have had mild symptoms and none have been hospitalized.  


Greg Kim was a news reporter for KYUK from 2019-2022.
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