How to get a COVID-19 test in the Y-K Delta
While other areas of the country report long waits for COVID-19 tests, those tests remain easily accessible in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Here's how you can get one at home or from a local testing site.
Bethel Public Health Nursing
Bethel Public Health Nursing has been the go-to place in the region to get at-home COVID-19 tests since late December 2021.
Nurse manager Evelina Achee said that tribes, households, schools, and workplaces across the region have been calling for the tests, and the public health nurses have been mailing them out or making them available for pick-up in Bethel. So far, they’ve sent out a lot.
“Gosh, maybe over 4,000,” Achee said.
The tests are funded through a state grant. As of Jan. 18, Bethel Public Health Nursing had 40 at-home testing kits left to distribute to the community.
“By the end of the week, we should have more kits sent to us,” Achee said.
Until then, testing kits are limited to two per household. Each kit contains two at-home tests. Achee said that her office is limited to ordering 400 kits per week. Blue surgical masks are also available at Bethel Public Health Nursing.
Bethel Family Clinic
Bethel Public Health Nursing has given at-home tests to Bethel Family Clinic. Clinic medical director Debra Cyphert said that the tests are available on a first-come first-served basis. The clinic is also offering rapid COVID-19 tests and PCR tests.
Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation
COVID-19 testing is also available from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation. In Bethel, drive-thru testing is offered in the parking lot across from the hospital from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Walk-in testing is open inside the hospital on the first floor from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Outside Bethel, testing is available at village clinics.
In villages without a health aide, YKHC President and CEO Dan Winkelman wrote in an email that the health corporation sent at-home COVID-19 tests to these communities to make testing available across the region.
The Biden administration has taken steps to make at-home test kits available. On Jan. 18, the federal government launched a website where anyone can order four free kits to be mailed directly to them through the United States Postal Service. It’s limited to four kits per address. The website is covidtests.gov.
Also, private health insurers are now required to reimburse customers for up to eight at-home test kits per month per enrolled person. So a family of four could be reimbursed for up to 32 kits per month. There are no retail pharmacies in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, so these kits would have to be purchased out-of-region or online.