Thirteen communities in the region now have confirmed evidence of community spread of the coronavirus. On Dec. 11, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation announced community spread of COVID-19 in the lower Yukon River communities of Pilot Station and Kotlik.
The two village tribes supported the announcement. The news comes after multiple cases in Pilot Station and Kotlik could not be linked to travel, meaning that the virus is spreading from person to person within the communities. In both Pilot Station and Kotlik, nearly 20% of the population has tested positive for the virus since last month.
YKHC has announced 113 cases in Pilot Station since early November, the vast majority of those in the past week. The community has a population of 606, according to 2019 state data. In Kotlik, YKHC has announced 127 cases in the past two weeks, since Nov. 27. Kotlik has a population of 649, according to 2019 state data.
In Pilot Station, cases have climbed in recent weeks since a man with severe COVID-19 died in the village after stormy weather prevented a medevac from reaching him. His name was Joe Xavier, and he was 37 years old. He died on Nov. 25.
The health corporation has determined that community spread of COVID-19 is occurring in at least 11 other communities in the Y-K Delta: Akiak, Bethel, Chevak, Emmonak, Kongiganak, Kwethluk, Napaskiak, Quinhagak, Scammon Bay, Toksook Bay, and Tuluksak.