YKHC updates COVID-19 guidance for communities and individuals

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) released new guidance today to help communities and individuals make decisions about safely resuming normal activities as COVID-19 cases decline in the YK Delta.

YKHC recommends people consider two key factors to determine how an activity can be done safely: the transmission rate of COVID-19 in the community and the vaccination status of the person.

If a community is experiencing high transmission, YKHC recommends the community go into lockdown. If a community is not in high transmission, vaccinated people can resume most activities they enjoyed prior to COVID-19 without wearing a mask. Vaccinated people should still wear masks while traveling and wherever required by law or regulation. People who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 should wear masks in most public settings and get vaccinated at their first opportunity.

The vaccine protects people from getting seriously ill and dying from COVID-19 and from spreading the virus to others, including elders and other vulnerable community members. All individuals over age 12 can sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine at https://tinyurl.com/y7reeyst or by calling 1-800-478-6599.

YKHC’s full guidance document, which is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance, released May 13, can be found at https://www.ykhc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/051721-community-guidance.pdf. YKHC expects to release new guidance for schools by the end of July.

YKHC also announced that beginning Friday, May 21, it will report vaccination rates as a percentage of the total population, rather than the eligible population, that has received a COVID-19 vaccine.

“With more age groups eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, the percentage of the total population that has been vaccinated is a meaningful indicator for communities,” said YKHC’s Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges. “We are seeing that as more of a village’s total population gets the vaccine, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in that village tends to decrease.”

Vaccination rates by village are published Friday afternoons on the COVID-19 dashboard at https://www.ykhc.org/covid-19/ and in YKHC’s Situational Report, which can be found at https://www.ykhc.org/covid-19/situation-reports/.

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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.