by YKHC Staff
October 23, 2020: Throughout the week, the YK Delta has experienced an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in multiple communities. YKHC emphasizes that without immediate broad behavior change by the public, cases of this highly contagious virus will continue to climb. It is well-evidenced that increased cases of COVID-19 are likely to be followed by an increased number of hospitalizations and deaths.
Community-based transmission of COVID-19 in Bethel now widespread
Although YKHC issued a joint statement on September 5 with the Orutsararmiut Native Council and City of Bethel that community-based transmission of COVID-19 appeared to be occurring sporadically in Bethel, it now appears to be widespread.
With over 50 active cases currently in Bethel alone, most cases reported in the community make up multiple discreet COVID-19 clusters. To date, YKHC is unable to find known sources of infection for these clusters tied to travel or close contact with a previously known case. It is important to understand that when a community is experiencing widespread transmission, there are likely many more cases that go undetected.
YKHC expands public testing hours for COVID-19
Beginning the week of October 26, YKHC will offer free COVID-19 testing, without an appointment, at the Bethel drive-thru testing site Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. Testing also continues by appointment at the Bethel drive-thru testing site on Monday and Friday, by calling 543-6949.
Case investigation resources restructured as outbreaks continue in Chevak and Quinhagak
Contact tracing of a COVID-19 positive individual is a tool used to help box in the virus through early identification of potential transmission, in an effort to help with containment. As a result of the on-going and widespread outbreaks of COVID-19 in Chevak and Quinhagak, amidst a growing number of cases and outbreaks in additional communities, YKHC is forced to restructure case investigation resources.
While YKHC will continue to make daily calls to COVID-positive individuals in Chevak and Quinhagak, case investigations may not continue in those communities due to the widespread nature of community-based transmission.
COVID-19 protective measures should be a multi-layered strategy
Although travel restrictions (testing and quarantining upon return from travel) are one effective tool to help prevent spread of COVID-19, it should not be the only protective measure used by communities or individuals. Given the alarming rate of transmission happening within the region, YKHC strongly urges the public to practice all known and effective precautions, even if a community has not been affected by a positive COVID-19 case.
These protective measures include: avoid hosting or attending gatherings of any kind, avoid all non-essential travel, practice regular handwashing, remain physically distant (more than six feet) from anyone who does not reside in your same household, wear a mask when in public, and frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home.
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.
This news release was issued on October 23, 2020.