Health related stories.

Bethel Elder Esther Green reflects on past pandemics, and lessons learned through stories passed down in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Green stands outside her home during the coronavirus pandemic on April 30, 2020 in Bethel, Alaska.
Katie Basile / KYUK

As Alaska continues to reopen, health officials urge people to follow the guidelines aimed at slowing down the spread of the coronavirus. But many of the practices to control infectious disease already have a long history in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. 

Katie Basile / KYUK

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation has confirmed four positive coronavirus cases in the region in one week. At least two came from non-residents traveling into Bethel, and the other two from villages.

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.

Mark Leary / Bethel Search and Rescue

Over the past week, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation announced that two residents of Y-K Delta villages had tested positive for the coronavirus. On June 12, Quinhagak received the news that a second resident had tested positive. Two weeks earlier, the village dealt with its first case of coronavirus, which YKHC later said was likely a false positive. On June 15, a Napaskiak resident tested positive and then negative for the coronavirus in consecutive tests on the same day. Both communities are reacting to sometimes inconsistent test results.

Katie Basile/KYUK

On June 15, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation confirmed another positive case of coronavirus in Bethel. The individual, who resides in a Y-K Delta village, was in Bethel when they were tested, and is currently self-isolating in the hub community. YKHC would not say which village the person is from in order to protect the patient’s privacy. 

Registered Nurse Avelina Chung runs through protocol with a YKHC employee at the COVID-19 drive-thru test site on March 25, 2020 in Bethel, Alaska.
Katie Basile / KYUK

A person who resides in a Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta village has tested positive for coronavirus while in Anchorage. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation announced the positive result today, June 12, and is not releasing the name of the village where the individual resides to protect patient privacy. The person tested positive at the Alaska Native Medical Center and is currently self-isolating in Anchorage.

YKHC Dentist David Humphrey holds a test tube at the drive-thru test site where he was helping on April 10, 2020.
Katie Basile / KYUK

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation has confirmed another case of coronavirus in Bethel, and will begin offering testing to Bethel residents concerned about potential exposure.

Children orphaned by the flu epidemic at Pawik (Naknek), Alaska in 1919.
NAU.PH.568.4362: Northern Arizona University, Cline Library [Emery Kolb Collection]

The merciless force of a pandemic is nothing new to Southwest Alaska. Many people in the region have grown up with stories of the 1918 flu epidemic killing whole villages. KYUK’s Julia Jimmie heard those tales from her mother and aunt, who heard them from their parents, some of whom were there when death came to visit.

Samples for COVID-19 testing are collected using a cotton swab like the one pictured here from the lab at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation hospital in Bethel, Alaska.
Katie Basile / KYUK

A person who traveled into Bethel has tested positive for coronavirus. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation received the positive result from Anchorage on June 10. In a press release, YKHC said that the person tested for coronavirus in Anchorage before flying to Bethel. YKHC  received the positive result after the person had already arrived in the community.

The Bethel Police Department says that 16-year-old John D. Evan has been found safe. 

The Alaska Native teenager went missing at 6:36 p.m. on June 2. No further details have been released.