Fourth Teller resident tests positive for COVID-19
One more regional resident tested positive for COVID-19 this week, bringing the total regional cases up to 20. The patient is a resident of Teller, and the fourth positive case in the village so far. Given the sharp rise in Teller cases over the last few weeks, the village is discouraging nonessential travel and has instituted a required travel permit for all visitors.
The positive test was announced by the Norton Sound Health Corporation on Wednesday, July 22. The patient has gone into isolation, and Public Health Nursing is tracing their close contacts. NSHC is again pushing for 100 percent testing in the village. As of Tuesday, July 28, 72 percent of Teller residents had received at least one COVID-19 test.
Teller’s leadership has requested that travel into the village by road or water be limited only to essential visits. The village’s new travel permit requires all visitors to test negative in their home community before traveling to Teller. Potential visitors can call the City of Teller at 642-3401 or reach the City by fax at 642-2051 for more information about the permit.
In the daily NSHC briefing via teleconference, Medical Director Mark Peterson said that flu vaccines would be available in mid- to late August, and that the state would try to get people immunized as soon as possible. He said the flu vaccine was an important measure in protecting people from the novel coronavirus, because having one virus can increase a person’s susceptibility to the other.
He also expressed hope about a COVID-19 vaccine in the foreseeable future. The National Institutes of Health announced Monday that they would begin phase three of clinical trials of their promising vaccine known as mRNA-1273, involving 20,000 individuals. Peterson said that if the trials go well, the vaccine would be available in November or December of this year.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services will be having a statewide exercise in the coming weeks to practice distributing a vaccine across the state. Peterson said the first people to be vaccinated would be health and emergency workers, followed by elders and the immunocompromised, after which the vaccine would become available to the general public. “They’re feeling somewhat positive on the COVID-19 vaccination happening,” he said. “So that’s something to look forward to.”
Statewide, Alaska set a daily record with 231 new positive cases on Sunday; most were in Anchorage. There have been 2,729 total cases in the state, 1,871 of which are still active. As of Tuesday, there were 38 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, and 22 people had died. One of the newest deaths, announced on Monday, was a resident of Bethel, who was transported to Anchorage with severe COVID-19 symptoms and later died there.
In the Nome, Norton Sound/Being Strait region, there have been 20 total positive cases, 17 residents and three nonresidents. One case is currently active and 19 have recovered. There have been no hospitalizations and no deaths in the region.