COVID-19 Precautions Update for Nome
NOME, Saturday, March 14, 2020— Precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to Nome and the region the following measures were announced:
• Iditarod: In addition to postponed Finisher’s banquet and Meet and Greet the mushers, the Iditarod is moving its official checkpoint to outside the community of Shaktoolik, to the old site. According to the Native Village of Shaktoolik Facebook site, they are seeking volunteers to prepare old site as a checkpoint, given that Shaktoolik is notoriously windy and the last checkpoint before a challenging run across the sea ice to Koyuk. According to the post, the road to old site has been plowed, they are looking for volunteers to bring drop bags to an old house that is to serve as a check point. They will have a generator there but are looking for some type of heat for the house. “Let’s show the world that Shaktoolik fully supports the Iditarod and make them as comfortable as we can!” the posts says.
Nulato also moved their checkpoint to the river, no access to the village, according to a cardboard sign put together by race judge Karen Ramstead in Galena.
This was not communicated via official Iditarod channels, but reported on Alaska Public Radio by Zachariah Hughes. A press release from the Iditarod said it has pared down its staff to essential personnel limited to veterinarians, logistics, communications and necessary dog handlers to be traveling to Nome.
The Nugget could verify the following: Elim mayor Paul Nagaruk said on Saturday that no decisions have been made for their community yet. City leadership is in talks how to proceed. As of Saturday, Elim still plans to let mushers in.
• Norton Sound Health Corp.: On Thursday, March 12, the State of Alaska announced its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Anchorage. Officials say the patient self-disclosed and did not expose the public, and they expect the case to be isolated. Norton Sound Health Corporation is asking people who feel ill to stay home, unless their symptoms are severe enough to warrant a visit to the hospital or clinic. If patients coming to NSHC have a cough or respiratory illness, they will be given a mask to wear in order to reduce other people's exposure to sickness. If a mask is not available, patients will be given a tissue to cover their cough or sneeze. Most common colds and flu viruses can and should be treated from home. To limit exposure to other illnesses at the hospital and in village clinics, people who are feeling sick are encouraged to treat at home. For those needing advice on medical at-home care in Nome and the villages, you may call the Nurse Call Line at 443-6411.
People who have had contact with someone ill with the coronavirus or have traveled to a place where the virus is prevalent and are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus (fever, coughing, and shortness of breath) are asked to call ahead before coming in to the hospital or local clinic to be treated. They should call the Nurse Call Line at 443-6411, so that NSHC staff can be prepared for their arrival and help limit exposure to the rest of the facility.
• Bering Strait School District and Nome Public Schools closed schools from March 13 until March 30. (extending spring break for one week). Per Jamie Burgess, NPS superintendent: Per directives from Governor Dunleavy and Commissioner Michael Johnson, all school districts in Alaska have been asked to close March 16 through March 27.
• According to an email from LEPC chair Tom Vaden, the local store AC has generally supplies for two to four weeks of food available, Hanson’s states they have a supply of 12 days of food. The City of Nome has requested MRE (food ration packs) from ATG.
• Lynden on Saturday announced it would maintain normal business operations and their services continue to run according to regular schedules.
• Captain Ralph Ray with the Alaska State Defense Force announced that 100 cots and supplies will arrive on Monday in Nome in case a quarantine center is to be set up.
• Alaska Commercial Company in Nome announced it will be honoring Senior Discount Day EVERYDAY effective Today, March 13 through April 30, 2020
• On March 11, State of Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy declared a disaster for COVID-19.
• On March 4, during a LEPC meeting for Nome, City Manager for the City of Nome and Public Health Nursing, NSHC, Kawerak, Nome Public Schools, DOC agreed to form a Unified Command and a Joint Incident Command. LEPC to meet on Monday, March 16 at 10 a.m. at the Public Safety Building.
• All Iditarod related events postponed. Arts Council will proceed with Ice Sculpting Contest.
• City Closures: Rec Center, Old St. Joe’s, Visitor Center, Richard Foster Building, Nome Public Schools buildings. Mini Convention Center limited access. City Hall is open.
• Federal subsistence regional advisory council meeting (Northwest Arctic RAC) to be held on March 16-17, by teleconference. Phone: 877-638-8165, passcode: 9060609
• STATE LEGISLATURE— Effective immediately, access to the State Capitol will be limited to lawmakers, employees of the Legislature, members of the governor’s administration, and credentialed journalists. Legislative work will continue as normal, and Alaskans will be able to participate fully in the public process by following along on Gavel Alaska, AKL.tv, and through written and telephonic testimony. The Legislature also enacted a temporary ban on state-sponsored travel by lawmakers and legislative employees. Additionally, anyone with access to the Capitol who travels out-of-state on personal business will be advised not to re-enter the building for at least seven days upon returning.
•Bering Land Bridge National Preserve has suspended all Iditarod programs and interpretive programming from March 16th - 31st. Programs may be rescheduled for the summer.
• Bible Baptist Church cancels church services until further notice.
• The Nome Community United Methodist Church will be following the directive of our Bishop and there will be no worship services on March 15 or March 22. \
**COVID-19 HEALTH ALERT**
Issued March 13, 2020
By: Dr. Anne Zink, Chief Medical Officer, State of Alaska
DHSS strongly advises that all Alaskans read and comply with the following CDC guidance for workplaces, schools, homes, and commercial establishments:
Practice good hygiene:
• Stop handshaking – use other noncontact methods of greeting.
• Clean hands at the door and schedule regular hand washing reminders by email.
• Create habits and reminders to avoid touching their faces and cover coughs and sneezes.
• Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly.
• Increase ventilation by opening windows when able.
Be careful with meetings and events:
• Use videoconferencing for meetings when possible.
• When videoconferencing not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces.
• Consider adjusting or postponing large meetings or gatherings.
Special travel considerations:
• Assess the risks of travel including the location and rapidly changing events.
• At risk individuals and communities with limited health care infrastructure or high-risk populations should considering limiting all non-essential travel.
Handle food carefully:
• Limit food sharing.
• Strengthen health screening for staff working with food and their close contacts.
• Ensure staff working with food and their close contacts practice strict hygiene.
Special consideration for businesses:
• Use booking and scheduling to stagger customer flow.
• Use online transactions where possible.
• Consider limiting attendance at larger gatherings.
• Promote tap and pay to limit handling of cash.
For transportation businesses, taxis, and ride shares:
• Keep windows open when possible.
• Increase ventilation.
• Regularly disinfect surfaces.
• Encourage social distancing during rides.
If you don’t feel well:
• Stay at home if you are feeling sick.
• Do not go to work, out in public or around others if you have a fever and for 72 hours after your last fever.
• Consider staying at home if you have a sick family member in your home.
Households with sick family members are recommended to:
• Give sick members their own room if possible, and keep the door closed.
• Have only one family member care for them.
• Consider providing additional protections or more intensive care for household members over 65 years old or with underlying conditions.
Households with vulnerable seniors or those with significant underlying conditions:
Significant underlying conditions include heart, lung, kidney disease; diabetes; and conditions that suppress the immune system.
• Have the healthy people in the household conduct themselves as if they were a significant risk to the person with underlying conditions. For example, wash hands frequently before interacting with the person, such as by feeding or caring for the person.
• If possible, provide a protected space for vulnerable household members.
• Ensure all utensils and surfaces are cleaned regularly.
These recommendations are based on the CDC’s guidance, which can be found here: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complication...
This is not a mandate.
State of Alaska Health Alerts are posted to the DHSS COVID-19 website at coronavirus.alaska.gov.