As coronavirus cases increase in the region, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation is expanding public testing and urging everyone to stop gathering with people outside their household.
The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation is expanding its times for public COVID-19 testing in Bethel this week with a streak of afternoon testing availability. Anyone can get a free COVID-19 test without an appointment on Oct. 14 - Oct. 16 from noon to 4 p.m. at the drive-thru testing tent outside the YKHC administrative building. Usually this public testing is only offered on Wednesday afternoons.
This testing expansion follows an uptick in confirmed cases in the region this month. To date, 34 Bethel residents have tested positive for the virus. In Quinhagak, 37 residents have tested positive. Other villages have also had cases, and people who do not live in the region have tested positive while visiting.
To slow the spread, YKHC is urging everyone in the region to avoid hosting or attending gatherings with people who are outside your household. In a news release, YKHC said that contact tracers have found that people exposed to or infected with coronavirus have participated in gatherings, including birthday parties, bingo, baby showers, funerals, restaurant dining, religious services, and more.
Any social interactions or gatherings with people not in your household "during this time puts the public’s health at risk," according to a YKHC news release.
YKHC has announced 243 COVID-19 cases in the region, affecting 22 Y-K Delta communities. Contact tracers are monitoring over 450 close contacts. If each of these close contacts developed COVID-19 symptoms, they would overwhelm the regional health care system.
Along with expanding its testing hours, YKHC urges everyone to follow all known protective measures against COVID-19: wear masks in public, limit social interactions with people outside your household, avoid gatherings, wash hands frequently, avoid non-essential travel, and quarantine after traveling outside the region. YKHC also encourages everyone to get a flu shot.