As cases rise in Yakutat, health officials ask residents to hunker down

The Yakutat Harbor in August 2017. The small community of around 600 people now has five cases of coronavirus, according to local health officials. (Emily Kwong/KCAW)

The City and Borough of Yakutat reported four new coronavirus cases over the weekend.

Yakutat’s incident command said Sunday there are now five known cases in the small community of around 600 people — four residents and one nonresident. They announced the community’s first case July 23.

The Yakutat Community Health Center sent the tests to the state lab for analysis. Because of privacy concerns, officials generally aren’t releasing demographic information for patients in communities with populations under 1,000.

Local and state health workers are reaching out to everyone who tested positive to give them more information on what to do, according to a press release from Yakutat Public Safety.

The health center has offered free, drive-through COVID-19 testing as well as testing at the airport for passengers.

In a Facebook video, health officials asked residents to return to the practices of an earlier hunker down order. Yakutat Tribal Health Board Chair Cathy Bremner said that means returning to smaller household bubbles and wearing a mask when socializing within six feet of anyone outside the household.

“It is up to us as community members [whether] this virus will spread rampant in our village, to our babies and our elders,” Bremner said. “Or whether we contain and significantly slow the spread over the next 14 days.”

In response to the recent outbreak, the clinic cancelled regular outpatient visits but remains on-call for emergencies. Health officials also asked businesses to consider temporarily requiring masks, if they don’t already.

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