“Dramatic surge” of COVID-19 in Yukon-Kuskokwim region: 78 cases reported in one day

A man in a blue hospital gown and a blue surgical mask passes a swab to a man in a blue hoody from across the table
YKHC Nurse Kerry Cobbledick hands out swabs at a station set up for coronavirus testing outside of the Alaska Airlines airport terminal in Bethel. (Katie Basile/KYUK)

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation on Tuesday announced Southwest Alaska’s most devastating COVID-19 numbers to date: 78 new cases in a single day, including more than 50 in a single village.

YKHC, a tribal health-care provider, also reported that a Y-K Delta elder in their 70s died due to COVID-19 complications, marking the fourth coronavirus-related death for the region.

Read more stories of how the coronavirus is affecting rural Alaska

The vast majority of the new cases are from areas where YKHC has announced community spread of COVID-19. Fifty-one of the new cases are in the village of Chevak, 11 are in Toksook Bay, eight are in Quinhagak and five are in the regional hub town of Bethel. YKHC has announced that community spread is occurring in all four of those communities.

YKHC also announced one new case in Hooper Bay, and two additional cases between two different unnamed Y-K Delta villages.

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In a prepared statement, YKHC said the region is experiencing a “dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases.”

“Within the last seven days, YKHC has sent multiple individuals by medevac to Anchorage due to serious infections of COVID-19,” the statement said. “Because COVID-19 is a novel virus, hospitals do not have access to vaccines that can prevent transmission or medical treatments that can treat serious infections.”

Previously, the highest single-day total of reported COVID-19 infections in the region was 26, on Oct. 14, according to state data.

Anna Rose MacArthur is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.

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