Six Cases of COVID-19 in Norton Sound Found in One Family, Origin of Spread Unknown

An aerial view of a large island on a cloudy day

A cluster of six new cases of COVID-19 has been identified in the Norton Sound region. Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) announced Saturday night that all of the patients are part of the same household.

According to NSHC, one patient tested positive for the virus late Friday. Then, after follow-up contact tracing, five other individuals tested positive on Saturday. All six patients are residents of Gambell and are currently isolating.

The State Section of Epidemiology and Public Health Nursing are investigating the origin of the spread of the virus in this case. Further contact tracing is also underway.

NSHC says it plans to test the entire community of Gambell throughout the week. The DCRA estimates that the St. Lawrence Island community’s population sits around 700.

Starting today, the regional health corporation plans to have additional staff and supplies to provide community-wide testing for COVID-19.

Leaders in Gambell ask residents to show compassion for those who test positive for the virus and their close contacts.

In the same press release, NSHC says community members should avoid settings where they can’t maintain social distance of six feet and or, it is impossible to wear face masks. But, given the ongoing housing crisis throughout the region and specifically in Gambell and Savoonga, that might be easier said than done.

The total number of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in the Norton Sound region is now 65. 53 of those are considered recovered while 12 are active.

Image at top: An aerial view of St. Lawrence Island, circa 2015. Photo: Laura Kraegel, KNOM.