At least two villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta have locked down following a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Emmonak announced its lockdown on Sept. 3 and Kwethluk went into lockdown on Sept. 6.
The lockdowns for both villages come after an uptick of case counts around the nation and the region. Kwethluk currently has over 30 active COVID-19 cases in the village, including breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals.
The Organized Village of Kwethluk’s lockdown goes farther than CDC guidance on preventative quarantine for vaccinated people who have come into close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. CDC guidelines say vaccinated people don’t have to enter preventative quarantine after coming into close contact with a COVID-positive person, but they should mask up and test after three to five days.
Kwethluk’s lockdown requires entire households to quarantine for 10 to 14 days if a household member comes into close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. These rules apply to vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike.
The Tribe says its stores can remain open to six customers at a time, and children aren’t allowed in public places or beyond the confines of their own property. It bans visitors from outside the village.
In Emmonak, the lockdown is set to expire on September 18, so long as no new COVID-19 cases arise during that time frame. The Emmonak tribal administrator said that the Tribe will work with the regional Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation on reopening when it is safe to do so.
A spokesperson for YKHC said that its COVID-19 response team may recommend a lockdown for a village with more than three households with COVID-19 cases. YKHC said that this is the threshold at which community-based transmission of COVID-19 is likely to occur.
The Emmonak Tribal Council has enacted a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. The community says that only essential businesses can remain open, and it is not allowing non-essential travelers into the village. People violating the lockdown will have to pay a $500 fine for the first violation, and $1,000 for each additional violation.