COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the Norton Sound and Bering Strait region. Norton Sound Health Corporation identified 170 new cases of COVID-19 in the region Jan. 28-30, and another 106 cases on Jan. 31.

The total number of active cases in the region is now 289. That’s down from the 407 active cases NSHC reported on Jan. 28. As of Jan. 31, there were 68 cases in Nome, 40 in Unalakleet, 39 in Gambell, 31 in Savoonga, 28 in Elim, 20 in Shishmaref, 19 in Teller, 12 in Brevig Mission, 11 in Shaktoolik, six in Koyuk, five in Stebbins, five in Wales, four in St. Michael and one in Diomede.

Nome City Manager Glenn Steckman extended the mask mandate in Nome through Feb. 21. Anyone age three or older must wear a face mask while in any Nome public buildings, including but not limited to the post office and the grocery stores. Both drivers and passengers in taxicabs must also wear face masks.

Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that anyone who is not vaccinated and is a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 should quarantine for five days, and wear a face mask around others until day 10 after the close contact. They should also get tested 4–5 days after the close contact. Those who are fully vaccinated and boosted need not quarantine in the event of a close contact unless they develop symptoms. They should still wear a face mask around others until day 10 and get tested 4–5 days after the close contact.

The CDC defines a “close contact” as when someone spends 15 minutes or more within six feet of an infectious person. If both people are wearing well-fitting masks, however, it is not considered a close contact.

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