Napaskiak residents asked to shelter in place after COVID-19 case identified

This transmission electron microscope image shows the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The virus was isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Rocky Mountain Laboratories)

For the first time, there are indications of community spread of the coronavirus occurring in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation announced Thursday that it “believes there is a strong likelihood of community spread” of COVID-19 in Napaskiak, a village of about 400 people.

A Napaskiak resident initially tested positive for the virus last week.

The Napaskiak Tribal Council and City of Napaskiak are requiring all residents to wear face coverings while in public. Residents are also urged to shelter in place until July 5. That means staying at home with just household members and leaving only for necessary trips, like medical reasons or grocery shopping.

A YKHC medical provider will be in Napaskiak through Wednesday to provide medical support, and to screen and test people showing symptoms of COVID-19. Residents who are not showing symptoms can get tested for the virus over the weekend, without an appointment.

RELATED: Alaska records more than 40 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily increase yet

YKHC is also offering free COVID-19 testing in Bethel next week to anyone who is concerned about possible exposure to the virus.

Although the state has reopened most of the economy, YKHC has continued to urge people to follow basic precautions to keep the disease from spreading in the community: avoid non-essential travel, wash hands, social distance, wear a mask in public and frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces.

Symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea and a diminished sense of taste or smell.

Anna Rose MacArthur is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.

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