Olivia Ebertz, KYUK - Bethel

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A woman sits on a couch holding a baby.

Allergy worries kept a Kasigluk woman from getting vaccinated. She died of COVID-19.

In August, a former community health aide from Kasigluk died from COVID-19. Her name was Sharon Slim, and she was 46 years old.
Photo of inside of a school cafeteria with snowshoes hanging above the tables

Akiachak teacher arrested on charges of felony sexual assault of minors

An Akiachak teacher has been charged with sexually assaulting minors. According to State Troopers, John Mark Hammonds was arrested at his residence in Akiachak on Oct. 17. This marks the fourth time the Yupiit School district has seen allegations like this in the past decade.
Two men stand in front of a truck.

Unvaccinated City of Bethel employees say they won’t get the vaccine and are looking for new jobs

When the vaccine mandate took effect, the city had 17 unvaccinated employees. Since then, two of those employees quit, one got a religious exemption 10 got vaccinated and the rest are on administrative leave.
A white biulding with an american flag waving next to a stairway and ramp

All but 6 Bethel city employees got vaccinated before deadline

The city of Bethel’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate took effect on Sept. 27, and five city employees are set to be fired for refusing to get vaccinated. One unvaccinated police officer received a religious exemption.

Unvaccinated Bethel city employees demand more time to consider vaccine mandate

City of Bethel employees have a week to either get their first COVID-19 vaccine dose or get fired. Most city employees are already vaccinated; less than 15% are not. Part of the unvaccinated minority is demanding more time and more education to learn about the vaccine. 
A wooden building with an SUV in front

Nearly half of Bethel police are unvaccinated and could lose their jobs

The six unvaccinated police officers don't live in Bethel full-time. Instead, they fly in and out — working two weeks on, two weeks off.

Bethel mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for city workers

The City of Bethel has mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for all city workers. All Bethel city employees, consultants, contractors, and volunteers must receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27. City administrators announced the new policy on Sept. 13 in an email to city workers.
A man wearing a blue coat and white gloves looks at a computer.

State ICU call center could ease rural health care gap, Yukon-Kuskokwim health officials say

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation does not have its own intensive care unit, so it depends on transferring critically ill or injured patients to hospitals around the state. But the recent surge in COVID-19 cases means that most ICU departments are at or near capacity. There aren’t enough beds for new patients.
A man in a gray t-shirt with black hairs stares ahead.

Subsistence users, scientists seek answers for chum salmon declines

Why are the chum numbers so low? The short answer is that no one really knows for sure. But there are a lot of theories.
A man and a girl stand on a river shore with boats in the background.

How low chum runs changed the lives of these Western Alaska fisheries workers

For decades, Kwik’Pak Fisheries in the Western Alaska village of Emmonak has provided reliable summer employment in one of the state’s most unemployed regions. But with salmon runs low and commercial fishing closed, it’s offering few jobs this summer. Commercial fishermen and women are feeling the economic stress, and those who are still working at the plant have had to transition to new roles.
A man in a puffy winter jacket stares at the camera.

Yukon subsistence users go to new lengths for food after chums don’t return

Subsistence fishing on the lower Yukon River is closed for both king and chum salmon. Residents who usually depend heavily on the fish are pivoting toward other ways to get meat.
Two men in jackets lift a box that says "This side up"

When Yukon River chum stocks collapsed, donated fish came in from Bristol Bay

The Yukon River has seen its worst summer chum salmon run on record, and its third-worst chinook run.

State allows Donlin Gold to lease land for 315-mile pipeline

On July 20, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) granted Donlin Gold the right to lease state land to build a pipeline that will power its mine. This is the second time that the state has reached this decision. 
A white roman buiulding as seen from above

Treasury changes ARPA rules, grants all tribes $1 million

The U.S Department of Treasury has changed its rules on how American Rescue Plan Act Funds will be distributed to tribes. The changes open up a lot more funding for smaller tribes in Alaska and the Lower 48.
Photo of burned out water plant

Installation of long-awaited water plant underway in Tuluksak

A long-awaited water plant has arrived in Tuluksak after a fire destroyed the community’s only source of running water back in January 2021. Efforts to ship the new portable water plant to Tuluksak have been underway since the winter.
A boat with a bunch of buildings on it and a crane carrying a net

Fearing dismal salmon returns, Yukon River processor turns to gardening

The goal is to keep the business operating and workers employed, so Kwik’pak Fisheries in Emmonak is diversifying its business by building greenhouses right next to its fish processing plant.

Southwest Alaska ranks highest for maternal mortality

Alaska has a lower rate than the national average, but still sees 6 to 13 maternal deaths each year, according to the Alaska Maternal Child Death Review Committee. Rates are highest among Indigenous mothers in Southwestern Alaska.
An Alaska Native woman in a blue jacket

Bethel elder Eula David, co-author of English-Yup’ik medical dictionary, dies

Originally from Scammon Bay, David was a worldly, culturally fluid and fluent woman who went on to live in Fortuna Ledge, Mekoryuk, and eventually Bethel.
Two lab technicians wearing protective equipment transfer vials from a box.

Alpha variant of COVID-19 appears in Y-K Delta

The Alpha strain is also known as the B.1.1.7 variant. It has also previously been referred to as the UK variant.
A house in flames

Visiting construction worker puts out house fire in Y-K Delta village

A man was injured during the blaze, but nobody was injured when a house caught fire in Crooked Creek, which lacks a fire department.