Krysti Shallenberger, Alaska’s Energy Desk


Krysti Shallenberger reports on climate, energy and natural resources development for KYUK. She travels to Alaska by way of Washington D.C., where she was an editor at Utility Dive, a trade publication, and a reporting fellow at E&E News. Krysti also reported in Wyoming, Montana and Alabama. She holds a master's in journalism from the University of Montana, focusing on natural resource and environmental issues.

Greg Kim / KYUK

Since March, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta’s remote location has protected its residents from the spread of the coronavirus. Other than by barge, the only way to access the area is through the region’s biggest airport in Bethel. But case numbers are beginning to rise as more people travel out of the region, and bring the virus back with them when they return. 

Krysti Shallenberger / KYUK

It all began over a photo.

“A couple of our staff reached out to Donlin to use a picture from their website,” said Dan Walker, then-superintendent of the Lower Kuskokwim School District, in February. He retired at the end of July.

For nearly a decade, LKSD, the biggest school district in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, has been developing a place-based curriculum for its students. Typically, textbooks used in other parts of the country are not applicable to students in rural Alaska. 

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Rocky Mountain Laboratories

On Aug. 18, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation announced that a Bethel resident had tested positive for COVID-19 after coming into close contact with a prior case. The resident is currently self-isolating.

Katie Basile


The post has been updated with the most current numbers.

Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, a Bethel Democrat, is the sole candidate running for House District 38 in the Alaska state primary. By Aug.19, with 90% of the precincts reporting, Zulkosky had netted 995 votes. Zulkosky, the only Alaska Native woman in the state House of Representatives, has been in her seat since 2018, taking over when Rep. Zach Fansler stepped down, and then winning her election bid later that year. She is now seeking two more years.

A COVID-19 testing sample at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation.
Katie Basile / KYUK

On Monday, Aug. 17, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation announced that three more people tested positive for the coronavirus. One was a Bethel resident who tested positive in Anchorage. Another lives in a village that YKHC serves, and flew into the community before the test result came back. Another Bethel resident tested positive during YKHC’s free airport testing. All three are currently self-isolating.

Katie Basile / KYUK

A group of lawmakers sent a letter to the governor last week demanding a comprehensive mitigation plan for the coronavirus pandemic. But Gov. Mike Dunleavy says that he already has one.  

Anna Rose MacArthur/KYUK

Five people who work at Bethel's courthouse and state-run jail have tested positive for COVID-19, as the number of cases in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta continues to spike.

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (in yellow), the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (in blue/pink) cultured in a lab.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Rocky Mountain Laboratories

Two more Bethel residents who were in close contact with a prior coronavirus case have tested positive for the virus. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation confirmed the news on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 13. In addition, a resident in one of the villages in YKHC’s service area has also tested positive. All are currently self-isolating.