FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2021
Contact: Reba Lean, Public Relations Manager
Nome, Alaska – On Monday, March 1, a resident in Unalakleet tested positive for COVID-19 as part of community-wide testing that began last week. The individual is safely isolating, and NSHC is notifying close contacts of the patient. The case is believed to be community spread.
In response to this latest case, the Unalakleet School will go into its “red” zone for Tuesday and Wednesday and reopen in “yellow” status on Thursday and Friday. If there are no more positive cases found, the school will be back to “green” on Monday.
NSHC would like to provide some clarification about a series of events last week, involving COVID-19 test results.
The community-wide testing started in response to a positive COVID-19 case that was detected in Anchorage last week. A Unalakleet resident tested positive after traveling to Anchorage, but had been in the region during their infectious period.
Subsequently, two additional Unalakleet residents tested positive for COVID-19 in Anchorage. This pair of positive test results was later found by Alaska Native Medical Center to be inaccurate, due to a machine error. The tests were run on a large machine, unlike NSHC’s Abbott ID Now units, which do not run the same machine error risk.
Before NSHC learned of the testing errors, news of the positive results had spread, prompting cancellation of basketball games and causing concern in the community. NSHC communicated the testing errors with community leadership to allay the concerns.
NSHC continues the community-wide testing in Unalakleet, with a focus on close contacts of the most recent case. As of Monday afternoon, providers tested about 50% of the community’s population. Anyone who would like to be tested in Unalakleet can call 625-3535 during regular clinic hours. Limited after-hours testing is currently available in Unalakleet. Please call 625-1595 after hours to be placed on a list.
Unalakleet leadership would like to remind residents and travelers alike that a negative COVID-19 test is required before traveling into the community. Ryan and Ravn airlines in Anchorage both require proof of the negative tests before passengers board their flights destined for Unalakleet, as does Bering Air on flights from Nome. Unalakleet requires individuals to quarantine upon arrival, unless they are fully vaccinated. Travelers must test after seven days to be cleared from quarantine or serve a full 14-day quarantine.
Currently in the region, there are five active cases of COVID-19, with three in Nome, one in Golovin and one in Unalakleet.