FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2020
Contact: Reba Lean, Public Relations Manager
Nome, Alaska – Late Friday, September 18, a resident of the Norton Sound/Bering Strait region tested positive for COVID-19. After subsequent close contact testing, an additional five members of the individual’s household also tested positive for the virus on Saturday, September 19. The six patients live in Gambell and have all been notified and are safely isolating.
Norton Sound Health Corporation notified the State of Alaska Section of Epidemiology and Public Health Nursing. Contact tracing is underway, as well as an investigation into the origin of the virus’ spread.
NSHC contacted village leadership members on Saturday to notify them of the positive cases. In response to the cases, NSHC will begin testing close contacts over the weekend and will expand testing availability to the entire community throughout the week.
Close contacts will be identified by either NSHC or Public Health Nursing and will be advised to go to the local clinic to be tested for COVID-19. Beginning Monday, NSHC will send additional help and supplies for community-wide testing. All community members will be able to go to the clinic and receive a COVID-19 test, which involves a quick swab of both nostrils that can be described as ticklish and not painful.
If people have questions regarding symptoms, which can include coughing, shortness of breath, fevering, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, or other cold-like symptoms, they should contact their local clinic or the Nurse Call Line at (907) 443-6411 or 844-586-8773 if outside of regular clinic hours. Other general questions about COVID-19 can be directed to the State of Alaska’s 211 resource number.
Gambell leaders wanted to emphasize the importance of showing compassion for patients who test positive for the virus and anyone identified as a close contact. Additionally, community members should continue to avoid situations where physically distancing themselves from others or wearing face masks in public is not possible.