4 Yukon-Kuskokwim villages on lockdown in response to COVID-19 cases

A hand-painted piece of plywood stands over lookign the water. It reads "Welcome to Napakiak - Speed Llimit 15 MPH"
A sign on Napakiak’s boat landing on September 8, 2018. (Anna Rose MacArthur/KYUK)

At least four Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta communities are locked down as the number of coronavirus cases climbs across the region

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Nunapitchuk has entered its second week of lockdown after a resident tested positive for the virus and another resident died. Mayor Noah Wise said that the community will remain locked down until the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation tells them that they can lift restrictions.

“We are all really scared,” Wise said. Wise said that on Saturday, Aug. 23, YKHC tested Nunapitchuk residents for the virus, and the health corporation will issue test results within the week. Wise said that he doesn’t know how many people volunteered for testing, but he said that he was one of them.


The nearest community to Nunapitchuk has also locked down. The Kasigluk Traditional Council issued a stay-at-home mandate on Saturday, Aug. 23. The mandate prohibits visiting within the community. Households are permitted to send only two members to the store, post office, and other public places. A nightly curfew begins at 9 p.m. Any travel outside Kasigluk requires approval by the Kasigluk Police Department. Anyone caught traveling outside the community without permission could have their boat and motor impounded. Anyone violating any part of the mandate could face fines.


On Aug. 23, the City of Aniak, located on the middle Kuskokwim River, issued an emergency order requiring everyone in the community to shelter in place at home for 14 days and avoid contact with non-household members. Masks must be worn in public, and people who are not sheltering in place together must maintain a 6-foot distance. The order remains in effect until Sept. 6.


Napakiak is also under lockdown until further notice. The community sits about 15 miles downriver from Bethel, where cases spiked over the weekend. The Native Village of Napakiak issued the lockdown on Monday, Aug 24. The emergency declaration prohibits all non-residents from entering the community. Only law enforcement, health professionals, and contractors are allowed to enter with permission from the Tribal Office, and they must provide a negative COVID-19 test result.

Residents are asked to only travel outside the community for health, legal, and subsistence activities. Napakiak residents returning from outside the community must quarantine with their household for 14 days. All residents are urged to wear face masks in public, and businesses that don’t require masks will be fined $500 per violation. The Tribe asks everyone to look after Elders.

Anna Rose MacArthur is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.

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