Village Case of COVID-19 Comes From Community Spread

Exterior of Nome hospital in winter time.

Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) has identified another case of COVID-19 in an undisclosed community. Officials report that the case is not travel-related or from close contact with a previously identified case. 

The Norton Sound region now has a total of seven active cases with five of those cases in Nome. 

NSHC Medical Director Mark Peterson doesn’t think a pattern is appearing in the cases in the Norton Sound region. But on a phone call with community leaders on Thursday, he warned that high case rates in other parts of the state means regional residents still need to be cautious — especially with some local schools participating in the state basketball tournament. 

“We really have to be watchful for when those people come back. And really make sure that they test, make sure that they quarantine, and make sure that they test again. And if they’re not vaccinated, they have to do the quarantine and test twice. I think there’s quite a few people that traveled out and there just happens to be a lot of COVID there so we will want to watch for that.”

Dr. Mark Peterson, NSHC

Even though Alaska’s daily case rate continues to remain lower than it did at its highest peak in late 2020, daily case counts statewide have risen over the past two weeks. 

There were 231 cases reported Thursday on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, with 110 of those cases in Anchorage. 

According to the state’s alert system, the northwest part of Alaska — which includes Nome, Kotzebue, and Utqiaġvik– is on an “intermediate” alert, meaning the region has “moderate” community transmission with some cases going undetected. 

Meanwhile, vaccination efforts in the Norton Sound region continue to push ahead. On Monday, NSHC reported that 53% of the region’s total population has received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That number includes children who are currently ineligible for any of the vaccines on the market.

Image at top: Exterior of Norton Sound Regional Hospital. Photo by Brisa Alarcon, KNOM.