FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 5, 2023
Contact: Reba Lean, Public Relations Manager
Nome, Alaska – Norton Sound Health Corporation is preparing for the expiration of COVID-19 emergency declarations.
On Friday, May 5, the World Health Organization declared the end of its global public health emergency, which was first issued on Jan. 30, 2020.
The U.S. Dept. of Heath and Human Services plans to end its public health emergency for COVID-19 on May 11. According to DHHS, since the peak of the Omicron surge at the end of January 2022, daily COVID-19 reported cases are down 92%, COVID-19 deaths have declined by over 80%, and new COVID-19 hospitalizations are down nearly 80%.
Along with the end of the emergency declaration comes some changes, but some things will continue for at least the foreseeable future. Here are some things to note:
- NSHC will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccinations at no out-of-pocket cost.
- NSHC will continue to provide COVID-19 testing at no out-of-pocket cost for the short-term future. NSHC will share additional information if any changes are made.
- At-home COVID-19 test kits will remain available to the public while supplies last, with pick-up during regular hours at the Nome Public Health Center at 207 West 6h Ave.
Like national trends, NSHC has seen a significant decline in cases in the last several months. Thanks to the efforts of tribal and community leaders and residents over the last three years, the Bering Strait region had one of the highest vaccination and testing rates in Alaska and one of the lowest death rates. Outreach efforts aimed to share a transparent picture of how NSHC’s COVID-19 response was going and how it could improve.
As we enter a season of renewal, NSHC is turning its focus back toward preventative care and other healthcare needs. Some aspects of COVID-19 outreach efforts will discontinue after May 11, including:
- Weekly Tribal Leader Calls. NSHC will make an announcement in the event there is a public teleconference hosted by NSHC in the future.
- Daily COVID Updates to community leaders
- COVID-19 Situation Report in the Weekly Update.
- NSHC’s COVID-19 Response webpage will no longer feature prominently at the top of www.nortonsoundhealth.org. The page will be moved to the “Patient Resources” tab.
NSHC encourages the public to remember the lessons learned throughout the pandemic. If you are feeling sick, stay home. Continue to follow isolation guidelines to prevent the spread of unwanted illnesses. Wash hands, especially at mealtimes and after encountering highly trafficked areas.
The virus that causes COVID-19 will continue to appear in the region, much like the flu virus, and residents can expect to see it pop up in their communities at times. And much like with influenza, residents can keep up to date on vaccinations to best protect themselves and their families from the brunt of the effects.