The number of coronavirus cases found in people living in or visiting the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta reached 101 when the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation announced three new cases on Sept. 9.
Two of those cases live in regional villages and were tested for the virus at the Bethel airport. Both received their positive test results after arriving in their home communities. YKHC is not releasing the names of the communities to protect patient privacy. The third case lives in Bethel; all are self-isolating.
Of the 101 confirmed cases in the region, 17 are currently active, meaning that the individuals have not recovered from the virus. YKHC also has announced 17 positive cases this month.
Over the weekend, YKHC announced evidence indicating a "strong likelihood" of community spread of the coronavirus in the region after identifying two cases that could not be linked to travel. Community spread means that anyone in the community could be carrying the virus.
On Aug. 31, the Bethel City Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance requiring all passengers arriving at the Bethel airport to either get tested for COVID-19, show proof of a negative test, or quarantine for 14 days. The same night, the city council passed another emergency ordinance requiring people to wear masks in public spaces.
YKHC urges everyone to remain vigilant and practice all known protective measures against COVID-19, including avoiding all non-essential travel, regularly washing hands, staying 6 feet away from non-household members, wearing a mask when in public, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.
YKHC also urges everyone traveling into the region to get tested for the virus, for free, at the Bethel, Aniak, and St. Mary’s airports. Free testing is also offered at the Bethel hospital parking lot every Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. No appointment is needed. Testing by appointment continues at the Bethel drive-thru testing tent on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Call 907-543-6949 to set an appointment.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and diminished sense of taste or smell. YKHC asks that anyone experiencing these symptoms not go to a village clinic or the Bethel emergency room. Instead, they should call the village clinic or Bethel hospital at 907-543-6949 so that a health care provider can assist them.