COVID cases in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are soaring as Alaska’s cases fall

A colorful shed with the words "be healthy, Bethel" painted on it
Bethel, Alaska. (Katie Basile/KYUK)

COVID-19 cases in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region are the highest they’ve ever been. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation reported 817 new cases last week, almost 100 more cases than the week before. YKHC also reported one death and four hospitalizations over the same period of time.

The region’s case has spiked as state and national infection rates have been falling.

Per 100,000 people over seven days, about 2,800 developed COVID-19 in the Y-K Delta. That’s compared to the national case rate of 615 cases per 100,000 and the state case rate of 1,487 per 100,000 over the same period of time.

Despite having one of the highest case rates in the country, the Bethel City Council voted not to renew the city’s mask mandate this week. That mandate will expire Feb. 18.

Last week, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 8,950 new COVID-19 cases across Alaska, a 35% drop from the week prior. During that time, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta made up 9% of the state’s new cases.

According to state data, over 75% of adult hospital beds are still occupied, and 13% of those occupying hospital beds have COVID patients.

A line graph showing cases in the Y-K Delta spiking recently as U.S. and Alaska cases fall
Datawrappper chart showing weekly COVID-19 cases per 100,000 since April 6, 2020, when YKHC announced the first COVID-19 case in the Y-K Delta. (Chart: Elyssa Loughlin Source: YKHC, Alaska DHSS and CDC)

Local health officials continue to urge wearing masks and getting vaccinated and boosted against the virus to protect your health, and to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed by new cases.

As for vaccinations, YKHC reports that 65.9% of the eligible population is completely vaccinated against COVID-19, a 0.2% increase from last week. The state health department reports that 61.8% of all eligible Alaskans have completed a vaccine series. Nationwide, 67.9% of the population that is five or older is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anyone with questions about the virus is encouraged to visit the YKHC COVID-19 Dashboard or call the COVID-19 hotline at 907-543-6949.

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