First confirmed COVID-19 case announced in Bering Strait region

Nome’s Norton Sound Regional Hospital. (Photo by Laura Kraegel/KNOM)

Norton Sound Health Corp. announced Tuesday that the Bering Strait region has its first confirmed case of COVID-19.

At this time, NSHC is not sharing information on which of the sixteen communities in the region the patient is from, according to public relations manager Reba Lean. However, the individual is reportedly self-isolating and is in contact with the state’s Section of Epidemiology.

“In our region, every community is so small, and as soon as we identify the location, people start making assumptions and guesses, and it becomes a violation of privacy,” said Lean.

Lean also said that the regional hospital has been preparing for this situation for weeks, and their existing policies and regulations will remain in place to keep the coronavirus contained. The corporation learned of the diagnosis on Tuesday.

“Confirmed patients and even presumed-to-be-confirmed patients, we ask them to self-isolate,” said Lean about the region’s policy.

NSHC encourages everyone to continue following the local and state health mandates, which include wearing face coverings when going out in public.

The latest mandate issued by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration allows the state to utilize non-congregate shelters for housing specific groups of people.

The Department of Health and Social Services is expected to release more information on the Bering Strait region’s first case within the next 24 hours.

Alaska Public Media reporter Lex Treinen contributed to this story.

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