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High levels of community transmission drive COVID-19 increase across the region

Katie Basile
Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in the Y-K Delta, and certain communities are driving this increase.

COVID-19 has been on the rise across the nation, and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is no different. From April 18 to April 24, YKHC announced 114 new cases of COVID-19. That’s a 33% increase in cases over a seven-day period. This trend follows both state and national COVID-19 rates, which have begun to creep upwards following the circulation of a new omicron subvariant.

But despite this nationwide uptick in cases, the Y-K Delta’s case rate significantly outpaces other areas where COVID-19 is on the rise. Currently, the Y-K Delta’s case rate is two times higher than the state’s and four times higher than the nation’s.

Out of the 45 communities that allow YKHC to share the name of their community when reporting COVID-19 cases, only eight have reported more than one COVID-19 case in the past week. YKHC has been looking into how cases are spreading within the region. On April 22, YKHC reported that Alakanuk, Bethel, Emmonak, Grayling, Kwigillingok, Nightmute, Nunapitchuk, Toksook Bay, and Tuntutuliak are experiencing widespread community transmission.

The region still has a medium Community COVID-19 transmission level. There were no COVID-19-related hospitalizations over the past seven days, and the community level evaluates available resources to care for COVID-19 patients. It is too soon to tell whether the recent case increase will trigger an increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations, as they usually lag behind reported cases by two to three weeks.

Over the past week, in alphabetical order by community, YKHC announced one case in Akiak, three in Alakanuk, one in Aniak, 39 in Bethel, one in Chevak, 11 in Emmonak, one in Grayling, one in Hooper Bay, one in Kasigluk, one in Kwethluk, one in Mountain Village, one in Newtok, 18 in Nunapitchuk, two in Pilot Station, two in St. Mary’s, 25 in Toksook Bay, and five in Tuntutuliak.

Per 100,000 people over seven days, 393 developed COVID-19 in-region. That’s compared to the national case rate of 94 cases per 100,000 people and the state case rate of 197 per 100,000 people over the same period of time.

YKHC reports that 18,409 individuals, or 69% of the eligible population, are completely vaccinated against COVID-19. The state DHSS reports that 64.7% of all eligible Alaskans have completed a vaccine series. Nationwide, 70.2% of the population that is five or older is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Local health officials continue to urge wearing masks and getting vaccinated and boosted against the virus to protect your health, and to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed by new cases. Anyone with questions about the virus is encouraged to visit the YKHC COVID-19 Dashboard or call the COVID-19 hotline at 907-543-6949.

Elyssa (she/her) is the Wellness Programming Producer and a second year Jesuit Volunteer/Americorps Member at KYUK. She loves dogs, listening to podcasts and playing ABBA to close out the Birthday Line.
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