Confirming Community Spread of COVID-19 in Bethel, YKHC recommends universal masking and urges vaccination

by YKHC Staff

After months of declining case numbers, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) has evidence that widespread community transmission of COVID-19 is occurring in Bethel. Community transmission occurs when COVID-19 is identified in individuals who have no known contact with a person infected with the virus.

YKHC recommends all Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta residents, regardless of vaccination status, return to universal masking and urges all eligible community members to get vaccinated. Universal masking means all people ages two and older, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in any public, indoor space and in crowded outdoor areas.

Indoor spaces include places like tribal offices, grocery stores, and post offices. Unvaccinated people should wear masks any time they are outside their household, including during all outdoor events.

“COVID-19 vaccination is a safe, effective tool to help prevent serious illness that could result in hospitalization or death. The vaccine is the most effective tool we have and unvaccinated people should be vaccinated today to protect themselves, their friends, and families,” said Dr. Elizabeth Bates, YKHC’s Director of Infection Control. “Wearing masks is a proven way to reduce spread of the virus, and its delta variant, in our region. Masking is essential now that community spread is occurring in our area.”

YKHC is reviewing the revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in light of the emergence of the highly-transmittable delta variant and anticipates publishing updated community guidance early next week, incorporating the revised masking recommendations.

The COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone over age 12 and offers significant protection against hospitalization and death from COVID-19. To sign up for the vaccine, complete the survey at or call 800-478-6599.

YKHC encourages all people considering COVID-19 vaccination to speak with their healthcare provider to ask questions or learn more. YKHC also encourages all vaccinated people to share their vaccination story. Want to share your story? Email [email protected] today. It will take a collective effort, as a community, to stop the transmission of this highly contagious virus.