Active COVID-19 case numbers in the Norton Sound region surpassed 200 the week of Jan. 16 — and nearly half are located in Nome. Jan. 19 marked the second day in a row the region hit a record number of positive cases.

On Jan. 20, Norton Sound Health Corporation announced a 94-case spike within the region: 38 in Nome, 27 in Unalakleet, 16 in Shishmaref, 7 in Elim, two in Brevig Mission and one each in Koyuk, St. Michael, Savoonga and Stebbins. Community leadership have been notified. NSHC did not respond to KNOM’s request for comment on how many cases were due to close contacts, travel or community spread.

These new cases bring the regional total to 257, with 122 active cases in Nome, 43 in Unalakleet, 42 in Shishmaref, 22 in Elim, 10 in St. Michael, eight in Savoonga, four in Golovin, two in Brevig Mission and one in Koyuk, Shaktoolik, Stebbins and Wales each.

NSHC did not say how many of these new cases were from vaccinated or unvaccinated patients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guides patients who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate for five days after infection and wear a mask for another 5 days. NSHC instructs close contacts who are not fully vaccinated, including receiving a booster shot if eligible, to quarantine for five days after contact and wear a mask for an additional five days. 

The CDC and NSHC define close contact as coming within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive patient for more than 15 minutes without masks.

Fully vaccinated individuals who are close contacts do not need to quarantine but NSHC recommends they wear a mask in public and test on the fifth day after exposure.

UPDATE: NSHC announced 301 active COVID-19 cases in the Norton Sound region on Jan. 21. Of that total, 125 are in Nome, 56 in Unalakleet, 48 in Shishmaref, 19 in Elim, 15 in Gambell, 13 in St. Michael, nine in Savoonga, five in Koyuk, four in Golovin, two in each Brevig Mission and Shaktoolik and one in Diomede, Stebbins, and Wales each.

Image at the top: The COVID-19 Virus. Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.