FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2020
Contact: Reba Lean, Public Relations Manager
Nome, Alaska – Norton Sound Health Corporation saw its third positive case of COVID-19 on Friday, May 22, just one day after announcing its second positive case.
The patient agreed to disclose their home community of Nome and started to self-isolate upon receiving the test result. The State of Alaska Section of Epidemiology and Public Health Nursing are in contact with the individual and will begin the process of tracing their close contacts.
This third patient is the second Norton Sound Health Corporation employee to test positive through routine employee testing. Starting April 22, NSHC began offering voluntary testing for its employees, regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms. NSHC implemented once-every-two-weeks mandatory testing for employees on Monday, May 18. Since the beginning of the week, NSHC has tested 150 Nome-based employees, out of about 500 total Nome staff members. All Nome-based staff will be tested before returning to work on Tuesday, May 26.
Because tracking the virus is challenging, NSHC is encouraging COVID-19 testing for everyone in the region. Since opening testing to people who are not experiencing symptoms, NSHC has tested about 18% of the community of Nome and about 14% of the region. The first community case was identified on April 14, and as more tests are completed, NSHC expects to see more positive cases.
The goal of the global testing approach is finding those infected with the virus and stopping the spread as quickly as possible. Without asymptomatic testing, the virus would continue to spread without detection, and only the patients presenting with symptoms would be tested. NSHC has an adequate supply of test kits and urges all members in the community of Nome, especially those who work in close contact with the public, to frequently test.
Anyone who would like to be tested can be. In Nome, people may stop by the walk-in testing tent from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. In the regional villages, people should call their local clinics to arrange testing. If you are experiencing symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, new-onset diarrhea, loss of smell or taste, and other cold symptoms), please contact Primary Care in Nome at 443-3333 or your local clinic before going in to be seen.
NSHC practices exemplary infection prevention through routine cleaning and sanitizing and precautionary measures. Employees and patients are encouraged to wash hands frequently and are required to wear masks in all facilities. Everyone who enters a NSHC facility is screened with a temperature check. Nome’s walk-in testing tent is thoroughly cleaned each day, just like other facilities. If patients are concerned about entering the tent but would like to be tested, they can use the drive-up testing option. A nurse will meet you in your vehicle to perform the test, outside of the tent.