Seven new COVID-19 cases found in region
Seven new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the region this week, one in Stebbins and six in Nome. This brings the total number of cases in the region up to 30. The first new case this week was announced on Wednesday, August 5 in Stebbins. The patient was not a resident of the village, had recently travelled to the region, and was identified as a result of the village’s testing and quarantine protocols for travelers. The patient is currently isolating. This is the first confirmed positive case in Stebbins.
Of the four subsequent cases, two were nonresidents travelling from outside the region, and are all currently isolating in Nome. One case was announced on Friday, August 7 and the other four were announced on Tuesday, August 11 and one on Wednesday, August 12. Two patients who tested positive on Tuesday are NSHC employees and the cases are believed to be travel related. In the evening a second report came in saying that two additional patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in relation to two cases announced earlier on Tuesday, August 11. These patients are residents of Nome and close contacts of the other confirmed COVID-19 patients. Their infection with the virus is being considered secondary contact to the travel-related cases. The case discovered on Wednesday is a resident of Nome and is considered a close contact of the other confirmed COVID-19 patients.
As cases rise in the region and throughout the state, NSHC has also announced that due to a shortage of supplies, rapid analyzer tests will not be freely available until further notice. Instead, most COVID-19 tests taken in Nome and the region will be sent to Anchorage for analysis, which can take three to five business days.
Angie Gorn, President/CEO of NSHC, said in the daily COVID-19 teleconference that NSHC still has some rapid analyzer test units available, which can be processed at the Nome hospital and some village clinics within 24 hours of testing. But limited rapid tests are being reserved for people with symptoms or people admitted to the hospital.
Other possible exceptions include people who need a rapid negative test as part of their job or to return to their village, Gorn said. She recommended that anyone who feels like their test should be a priority should tell NSHC staff at the testing station.
NSHC is also expecting a resupply in the near future. Indian Health Services has shipped 3,000 rapid analyzer test units that should arrive within the next week or two. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the state are expected to send some units as well. Once NSHC is resupplied, they will resume providing rapid tests to the general public.
Statewide, there have been 4,589 positive cases as of Tuesday, 1,344 recovered and 3,219 active. 3,821 of total cases are Alaska residents, and 768 are nonresidents. There are currently 30 confirmed positive cases in hospitals around the state, and four on ventilators. 26 people have died.
In the Nome, Bering Strait/Norton Sound region, there have been 30 total cases. No patients have been hospitalized, and there have been no deaths.
This article is updated to reflect the new case that was discovered on Wednesday in Nome.