Nome’s Active COVID-19 Cases Decreasing, NSHC Won’t Say More on Taxicab Exposure

Picture of taxi cab sign on top of cab

Norton Sound Health Corporation announced yesterday another one of their Nome employees has tested positive for COVID-19. The patient’s positive test result was identified Tuesday along with a non-resident who tested through the City of Nome’s COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements.

Angie Gorn, CEO of NSHC, explained during a daily teleconference that the NSHC employee who contracted the disease had minimal contacts.

“And I can assure you when that takes place, we look to make sure what the impact may have been to patient care, if there is a low risk situation; any patients that may have been impacted or exposed have been notified.”

– Angie Gorn, NSHC

This is the second NSHC employee to test positive for COVID-19 within the last week. Despite these two latest cases being located in Nome, the active case count of COVID-19 locally has dropped.

“We had a large number of people come out of isolation from [Tuesday], they were part of that initial Nome outbreak and they have served their ten days. So then on their 11th day, yesterday, they came out [of quarantine]. So actually, active cases went from 57 down to 47.”

– Dr. Mark Peterson, NSHC

As of Tuesday, there were 57 total active cases in the Norton Sound, most of which were Nome residents, but today there are only 47.

Some of the recent positive cases in Nome are possibly connected to one local business. NSHC said earlier this week that a local taxicab could have been an avenue for transmission of the virus in Nome and that passengers might have been exposed within a 72-hour period.

Rodney Jones, the owner of Nome Checker Cab, told KNOM the potential exposure to COVID-19 in his cabs has been eradicated. RJ says he has been sterilizing each vehicle on a daily basis, in fact he was too busy sterilizing cabs so he couldn’t do a full interview with KNOM for this story.

Checker Cab is requiring all of its passengers to wear face masks or coverings when riding in their vehicles. The City of Nome has also limited the number of passengers in each taxicab to one person, unless they are from the same household.

RJ says the vehicles are spacious enough to provide for social distancing while multiple passengers are riding. Although Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines encourage vans or larger vehicles be used for non-emergency transports, the CDC also recommends the drivers and passengers take additional precautions.
When asked for further information about the potential transmission of COVID-19 in Nome’s taxicabs, Dr. Mark Peterson would not comment. NSHC says the only information they could release was included in their recent announcement.

Image at top: City of Nome has enforced stricter regulations for public transportation, specifically taxi cabs. Photo: Jangra Works via Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)