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Statement regarding COVID – 19 community – based response

Over the weekend YKHC provided an update regarding the community-based response to the second positive COVID-19 case in the region. We noticed inquiries about the legitimacy of testing and details related to this second case. 

As communicated on May 15, YKHC received confirmation that the test result of an individual who opted for COVID-19 testing at the Bethel airport returned positive. This test was taken on a date before May 15 and was processed by the lab at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. Based on exposure risk-factors of the person who tested positive, it is YKHC’s belief that this person was likely at the end of their COVID-19 infection when they were originally tested at the Bethel airport. 

During community-based response on May 15 and 16, the individual who originally tested positive and their close contacts were tested multiple times for COVID-19 with a rapid test over the course of 24 hours. All rapid results returned as negative. These individuals were also tested for COVID-19 with a lab test that will be processed by the State of Alaska. The results of the lab-processed tests are still pending and are typically known within 3-5 days. 

It is important to understand that previous reporting related to accuracy of rapid testing is based on whether the testing swab is added to viral media (or a solution) for transportation to another location. This step can dilute the virus. YKHC follows the recommendations of the rapid test manufacturer, presenting the testing swab from the patient directly to the machine. When processed in this manner, results are highly accurate. 

YKHC uses rapid COVID-19 testing when we believe it would make a difference in how we manage our clinical response of that patient at that time. In other words, if the rapid test identifies positive cases, it allows us to urge quarantine or self-isolation immediately to reduce the risk of community spread. We act as if every positive is a true positive, because the risk of not doing so is too high. 

YKHC is here for you and your family. While we are working hard to protect the region from further spread of the virus, we need your help. This second case highlights the importance of YK Delta residents to continue practicing protective measures, including: physical distancing from anyone not residing in your same household, regular handwashing, wearing a face covering in public, and regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces in your home.

Get the latest information on COVID-19 and local response from YKHC at www.ykhc.org/covid-19.

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COVID-19: Call Before Seeking Care

If you have symptoms like a fever, cough or shortness of breath, do not go to your village clinic and do not go to the Emergency Room in Bethel. Instead, call your village clinic, or in Bethel, call 543-6949.