For the first time in 6 months, Bethel has week with no new COVID-19 cases

A vial of vaccine
Bethel Family Clinic is scheduling appointments for people to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (Katie Basile/KYUK)

The City of Bethel hit a pandemic milestone by marking one week with no new confirmed COVID-19 cases. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation did not announce any new cases from Feb. 11 to Feb. 18, making it the first week with no new cases in the regional hub in six months, since early August 2020.

The absence of Bethel cases follows an overall decline in cases across the region and the state over the past month. Cases in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta began dropping before the winter holidays, rose again during and after the holidays, and have been declining since.

The holidays also marked the beginning of COVID-19 vaccinations in the region. As of last week, nearly 60% of the region’s eligible population had received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to YKHC Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges.

Over the past two weeks, the health corporation has announced an average of 11.9 cases per day. That’s a steep decline from the region’s pandemic peak, when cases averaged 66 new cases per day during a two-week span around Thanksgiving, from Nov. 22 to Dec. 4.

Despite the declines, the region still maintains the highest COVID-19 case rate in the state, a position the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta has held since October 2020.

YKHC is encouraging all Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta communities to remain locked down through Feb. 28 to continue slowing the spread of the virus. It is also urging everyone age 16 and older to get vaccinated.

Anna Rose MacArthur is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.

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