September 27, 2020
Contact: Sarah Richards, Public Relations Specialist
Nome, Alaska – On Saturday, September 26, Norton Sound Health Corporation identified three additional positive COVID-19 cases in the village of Gambell, bringing the recent count to 17.
The patients are now safely isolating, and the State of Alaska Section of Epidemiology and Public Health Nursing have been notified and are following up with any close contacts. NSHC has been working closely with tribal leaders since September 19 to implement protective measures to reduce any further spread of the virus.
Local leaders are asking all Gambell residents to remain at home with household members for the next 14 days, leaving only when necessary, such as for medical needs or grocery shopping. A “hunker down” notice has been delivered to residents, and a curfew has been instated. Law enforcement is monitoring the situation to limit contact between residents. Grocery store visits should be limited to one member of the household, and masks need to be worn in all public places.
Last week, NSHC sent a response team consisting of a physician, a pharmacist, a mid-level health practitioner, and nurses, in addition to local clinic staff, to help stop the spread of the virus. In addition to providing support for patients in isolation, the team is also offering community-wide testing and flu vaccines. Since September 19, nearly 400 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Gambell, representing over half of the community, and over 200 residents have received flu vaccines. Another response team will arrive in Gambell this week.
All residents in the region are strongly encouraged to get their flu vaccine this year to protect them against getting influenza during the COVID-19 pandemic. Getting the flu during the pandemic could lower your immune system defenses, and make you more vulnerable to other illnesses, including COVID-19.