by Calista Corp. Staff
Calista (cha-LIS-ta) Corporation continues to have serious concerns about the health and safety of people in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region. Despite Congress in March 2020 passing the CARES Act, which includes $8 billion set aside for a Tribal Relief Fund, an estimated $500 million has yet to be distributed.
“Rural Alaska, and particularly the YK Region, has a significant lack of infrastructure to safely respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Calista Corp. President/CEO Andrew Guy. “The majority of homes in rural Alaska without running water are in the YK Region. This week, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) shared that bleach and hand sanitizer are the most common reasons for calls to the Alaska Poison Center helpline.”
Frequent handwashing is a key guideline in combatting the spread of COVID-19. In rural Alaska homes without clean running water, families are forced to compensate by mixing bleach and water in basins.
As of September 28, of the 126 total cases reported by DHSS, 59 cases have been reported just in September. There are no ICU beds in the YK Region, an area roughly the size of New York State.
Calista hopes a decision is made quickly to distribute the remaining Title V CARES Act funding. Our primary concern continues to be COVID relief support to YK Region communities, in accordance with any directives or conditions the U.S. Treasury attaches to such funding.
Calista has held consultation calls with YK Region Tribes. We continue to hear the very real needs of neighbors, friends and families in rural Alaska.