Image of coronavirus particles

The state Department of Health and Social Services investigation into the one confirmed COVID-19 case in Nome revealed it was caused by local, community spread.

According to DHSS, the individual’s exposure potentially came from an undiagnosed case within the community. That means the individual did not contract COVID-19 by traveling outside of the region.

Nome’s one confirmed case of COVID-19 is also confirmed to be an employee at the local GCI retail store. The communications company sent out a press release last night to its customers stating that the individual has not been to the store or any GCI locations since April 3rd. The employee is still supposed to be self-isolating at this point in time.

Norton Sound Health Corporation spokeswoman Reba Lean confirms that the test results came from a commercial laboratory outside of Alaska, which she says on average takes about seven days to process after the test is taken. NSHC would not confirm the exact date the test was conducted but did say that the regional hospital is no longer using commercial labs to process test results.

Lean says the patient was able to self-isolate after symptoms were detected and they continue to be monitored by the state.

“Public health nursing checks in with their patients at least daily, maybe even more than once a day.”

She says right now, the Department of Public Health is reaching out to individuals who have had contact with the individual.

Despite a positive case being identified in the region, NSHC’s policy is to only test individuals who are showing symptoms. Hospital officials say asymptomatic people are more likely to get false-negative results as it may be that the virus hasn’t had enough time to be detectable.

However, NSHC told regional leaders in a conference call today that they are able to test more liberally than before. Individuals with even very mild symptoms are encouraged to call the Nurse Call Line.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, NSHC recommends you contact the Nurse Call Line at 443-6411 at which point you may be directed to come into the hospital for testing. Symptoms for the disease caused by the coronavirus include: cough, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, new-onset diarrhea, loss of smell or taste, and other cold symptoms.

Image at top: Particles from the coronavirus. Photo in the public domain via Creative Commons.