Fourth Nome patient tests positive for COVID-19
A fourth patient in Nome has tested positive for COVID-19, on Monday, June 8. Norton Sound Health Corporation released that the patient is from Nome. Subsequent investigation by Public Health revealed that this case of COVID-19 was travel-related.
According to NSHC, the patient is safely isolating and the State of Alaska Section of Epidemiology and Public Health Nursing took over the contact tracing for the period of the patient’s potential exposure.
As NSHC continues to test patients regionwide in Nome and the village clinics, it expects to see more positive cases.
As Alaska continues its phased re-opening and lessening restrictions on travel and commerce, the state has seen an uptick of coronavirus cases.
On Tuesday, Alaska Dept. of Health and Social Services reported one new death and 11 new COVID-19 cases including the Nome case and a new case in Kotzebue. The total number of nonresident cases is 49 and Alaska cases is 573.
According to DHSS, the person who died was a resident at the Providence Transitional Care Center. The facility identified its first case of COVID-19 on May 29 and testing of residents and caregivers revealed a total of 41 cases as of June 8. This brings the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Alaska to 11.
“Learning of this person’s death from COVID-19 hits us hard at DHSS and we join the family and loved ones in mourning their loss,” said Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink. “Providence is aggressively responding to this outbreak but this just shows how we’re all connected and why each of us must be diligent in doing everything we can to prevent the spread of this disease in our communities.”
A NSHC press release said that it is important to keep practicing precautionary safety measures, including social distancing recommendations, wearing masks in public and frequent handwashing.
As more passengers arrive in Nome with Alaska Airlines, the testing offered at the airport is not being taken advantage of. In order to cut down quarantine requirements, the city offered a shortened quarantine to travelers if they agree to a test taken upon arrival at the airport tent set up by NSHC and then seven days later. But passengers are in a hurry to get out of the airport and don’t want to wait in the bottleneck of the testing tent. “Since May 25, NSHC has tested 146 people through airport testing,” said NSHC Public Relations Manager Reba Lean. “NSHC is working on ideas of how to increase testing for incoming passengers, including getting the word out about Nome’s optional shortened quarantine with testing upon arrival and on day 7 after quarantining a week.” Currently, those who want to get tested are directed to the tent, where NSHC employees assist with paperwork that needs to be filled out and then two nurses are in line to do the actual nose swab. It would take only a few minutes, but travelers don’t want to incur more wait times. NSHC is working on reaching more of these people who decide to bypass the testing. In order to expedite the paperwork, Lean said, NSHC is looking into hiring an Anchorage staffer to meet with travelers coming to Nome and share that education before they board.
If residents of the region have concerns about exposure to COVID-19, there is testing for the virus available through NSHC. In Nome, People may stop by the walk-in testing tent from 8-11 a.m. and 12:30-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. In the regional villages, people should call their local clinics to arrange testing. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, new-onset diarrhea, loss of smell or taste, and other cold symptoms), please contact Primary Care in Nome at 443-3333 or your local clinic before going in to be seen.