Norton Sound Health Corporation has confirmed community spread is happening in St. Michael. NSHC originally said late last night two new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in the region, but in fact only one was found.
When asked why a case was reported that wasn’t actually confirmed, NSHC spokesperson Reba Lean said it was a miscommunication. “One case was re-communicated to PR even though it had already been reported.”
That means there are still only two St. Michael resident who have tested positive within the last few days. NSHC says the latest case is due to community spread but was found in a resident of White Mountain.
According to the regional health corporation, community leaders in White Mountain are limiting school hours and temporarily suspending their local elder lunch program. Close contacts will continue to be tested today.
The State Section of Epidemiology and Public Health Nursing will further investigate this new case.
In order to prevent rampant spread of the coronavirus in the Norton Sound, NSHC is now incentivizing vaccinations. As of Monday, more than 5,000 vaccines have been administered in the region and any resident who has received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is eligible for a prize drawing. Prizes include round-trip plane tickets to Hawaii, grocery shopping sprees, and weekly cash drawings.
To enter the prize drawing, anyone who has received their first dose of the vaccine may text VACCINE to 833-413-0568 and answer a short questionnaire. The questionnaire is also available online at https://bit.ly/3tpzQKa. Paper copies of the survey will be made available at clinics and in Nome. Entries must be received by March 31, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.
According to the latest vaccination updates, roughly 40% of the region has received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. White Mountain has the highest rate in the Norton Sound with at least 75% of the community vaccinated with the first dose so far.
As of Monday, St. Michael has a 35% vaccination rate while Nome has seen at least 1,600 first doses given out to local residents.
There are now five active cases of COVID-19 in the region. A total of 314 cases have been confirmed since the pandemic began, 309 of those are considered recovered.
Image at top: The village of White Mountain, as seen from the top of White Mountain Hill. Photo from KNOM file.