Roads in village Stebbins in the winter.

COVID-19 case numbers continue to fluctuate but the Bering Strait has seen a general decline throughout December. Due to this decline, the city of Nome lifted its mask mandate on Dec. 8.

Over the weekend of Dec. 11-12, Norton Sound Health Corporation identified 17 new COVID-19 cases spread throughout four Norton Sound Communities. NSHC identified 6 new cases in Nome, six new cases in St. Michael, three in Unalakleet and two in Brevig Mission.

Of the Nome cases, five were due to close contact and one was due to community spread. All six cases in St. Michael were due to close contact. All three Unalakleet cases were due to close contact and both cases in Brevig Mission were travel related.

A day prior, on Dec. 9, NSHC recorded 9 cases of COVID-19 in St. Michael. All those cases originated from close contacts, according to NSHC. 

Of the case counts from the last few days, several positive cases were NSHC employees who had no patient contact.

In response to their COVID-19 count, the village of Stebbins went into lockdown on Dec. 1 for a minimum of 14 days. Their lockdown includes a mask mandate for indoor public spaces, a ban on unnecessary public gatherings, road closure for the road to St. Michael, a quarantine for school students grades 8-12, a laundry limit, limited access to the city office, the store, and the post office and a closure of the gym.

NSHC recognized the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on residents.

“If you are feeling down or are looking for help for yourself or others, please talk to someone. Call NSHC Behavioral Health Services at (907) 443-3344 during business hours or after hours at (907) 443-6411 or 1-844-586-8773. The Alaska Careline is also available at 1-877-266-HELP,” NSHC said.

As of Dec. 13, there are 57 active cases in the region: 20 are in Nome, 17 are in St. Michael, 12 are in Unalakleet, four are in Stebbins, two are in Brevig Mission, one is in Shaktoolik and one is in Shishmaref.

Image at top: Stebbins village. Photo courtesy of KNOM media library.