FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2020
Contact: Reba Lean, Public Relations Manager
Norton Sound Health Corporation has additional details to share about its fifth positive case of COVID-19, which was identified as a patient from one of the region’s villages. On Friday, June 12, the patient tested positive for COVID-19 on NSHC’s in-house lab analyzer, an Abbott ID Now machine. A couple of hours later, that patient received a second test using the same analyzer, which returned negative results.
Due to the conflicting results, NSHC providers collected an additional swab to send to the State of Alaska Laboratory. The swab was collected the same day as the first two, and on Saturday, June 20, NSHC received the results, which were negative.
As per protocol and State of Alaska recommendations, NSHC took the initial positive result seriously. The patient began isolating, and Public Health Nursing began tracing close contacts. On Saturday, June 13, a rapid response team was dispatched to the patient’s home community to conduct testing for close contacts and community members. Over the weekend and on Monday, nearly 40% of the community’s population was tested, all of which returned negative results from either rapid on-site testing or testing through Alaska Native Medical Center. Testing continues in that community at residents’ request to their local clinic.
NSHC continues to treat positive COVID-19 test results as true positives, because the risk of not doing so is too high. As a result of the initial positive test, village leadership was able to spread word of additional testing availability; NSHC was able to help the patient isolate themselves from others; and close contacts who were identified were able to watch for symptoms and steer clear from others. NSHC will continue to recommend isolating and quarantining as the safest precautionary method against spreading the virus.
The patient is now considered fully recovered per CDC guidelines through a testing strategy. The patient received two tests, 24 hours apart, and both tests came back negative.