KYUK AM

Napaskiak Locks Down, Quinhagak Opens Up Following Positive Coronavirus Cases

Jun 17, 2020

Sign at the Quinhagak airport in the Native Village of Kwinhagak.
Credit Creative Commons photo by IceCreamForEveryone

The village of Napaskiak is now on lockdown after a resident received a positive coronavirus test result on June 15. Further down the coast, the village of Quinhagak relaxed some of its travel restrictions after one of its residents tested positive on June 12.

Napaskiak Tribal Administrator Sharon Williams said that the village’s COVID-19 Task Force made the decision to close down the village on June 17. 

“No inter-village traveling; only for essential needs,” Williams said.

She said that residents from Oscarville and other villages can still come to buy food or gas, because those are essential needs, but they need to obtain permission from the village COVID-19 Task Force first. Williams said that the task force also decided to close down public places like the playground and the gaming department. She said that the lockdown would last until the test results got back from the state lab for the individual who tested positive and their close contacts. She said that the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation told her that could be this weekend or early next week.

As Napaskiak tightened down following its positive coronavirus case, Quinhagak went the other way with travel restrictions. 

“It got more relaxed,” said Tribal Administrator Ferdinand Cleveland.

Cleveland said that Quinhagak’s travel restrictions loosened on June 13, one day after the village received news that a second resident had tested positive for coronavirus. 

Before June 13, Cleveland said that non-essential travel by non-residents was banned. Now, he says that Alaskans can enter as long as they receive permission from the tribe and test negative for coronavirus, or self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

“We're trying to keep in line with the state's mandates as much as we can,” Cleveland said. “On top of knowing there's a lot of family members that come here to do their salmon subsistence.”

Cleveland said that the village may reconsider its travel policy at its next tribal council meeting on July 2.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Napaskiak Tribal Administrator's name was Deanna White. It is Sharon Williams.