Possible Sporadic Community Spread of COVID-19 in Bethel

YKHC has evidence there is a strong likelihood that sporadic community spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is occurring in Bethel. This joint advisory is issued by YKHC, the Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC), and City of Bethel out of an abundance of caution, to warn the public we believe community spread may be occurring and so individuals can take appropriate measures to reduce exposure to or spread of the virus.

The determination of sporadic community spread was made by YKHC on September 5, following two recent COVID-19 cases that cannot be linked to travel at this time. The two case investigations are on-going.

The likelihood of sporadic community spread of COVID-19 is not unexpected given the recent spike in travel-related cases. YKHC has been urging the public for months that the pandemic and the public health risks it poses are not over. The medical community has no way of knowing when someone will have a serious reaction to a COVID-19 infection, that requires hospitalization or could lead to death. Further, there are no widespread, well-established medical treatments for individuals experiencing a serious infection of COVID-19.

Now, more than ever, it is essential the public practice protective measures, which include: wear a mask when in public, keep social circles very small and remain physically distant (more than six feet) from anyone who does not reside in your household, avoid all non-essential travel, opt for free COVID-19 testing upon arrival at the Bethel, St. Mary’s, and Aniak airports when arriving from out-of-region, practice regular handwashing, and frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home. It takes a collective effort, as a community, to stop the transmission of this highly contagious virus.

YKHC continues to offer free COVID-19 testing, without an appointment, at the Bethel drive-thru testing site every Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. Testing also continues by appointment at the Bethel drive-thru testing site on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, by calling 543-6949.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and diminished sense of taste or smell. If you have these symptoms, do not go to your village clinic or to the emergency room in Bethel. Instead, call your village clinic or in Bethel call 543-6949 so a health care provider can assist you.

Get the latest information on COVID-19 from YKHC at www.ykhc.org/covid-19.

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