The Arctic Sounder

Maniilaq Association announces COVID-19 community spread in Noorvik as cases rise in the Northwest Arctic Borough

The Maniilaq Association announced Monday that three Noorvik residents who tested positive for COVID-19 were not close contacts of previous positive cases, indicating community spread. The three individuals were a part of community-wide testing July 28, according to the association’s press release.

Only one individual is symptomatic, and all three are quarantining in their homes.

This is the first reported community spread in the Northwest Arctic Borough as cases in the area have spiked over the last two weeks. On July 28, the association announced 15 news cases, six of which were previously recorded. Of the other nine cases, two were in Kotzebue, four were from Noorvik and three were from Noatak.

Of the two Kotzebue residents who tested positive, one had not recently traveled outside of the region while there was no travel information available for the other. The four Noorvik residents had not traveled outside the community in the last two weeks.

As for the three positive cases in Noatak, one had not traveled outside the village in two weeks, and another had traveled to Anchorage in early June and traveled through Kotzebue July 24. There was no travel information available about the third Noatak resident.

Cases continued to spike last week when a Noorvik resident who had been a close contact of a known positive case tested positive for the virus July 29. The resident had been quarantining since being notified of the close contact exposure, according to the association’s announcement. Then on July 31, a non-resident traveling to Kotzebue tested positive and has been quarantining there.

The association also announced Aug. 4 that a Buckland resident tested positive as well as an Ambler resident, though the Ambler individual has not been in the region since July 8 and is quarantining in Anchorage. The Buckland resident was in the community July 24-31 before traveling to Red Dog mine.

The Northwest Arctic Borough reported its highest daily case count July 29 with seven new cases, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ website. The borough only had five reported cases from March through June but has seen a jump with 32 cases reported July 1 through August 4.

With cases becoming more prevalent, on July 30 Mayor Lucy Nelson extended the borough’s emergency order through Aug. 21, officially requiring all borough residents to wear masks or face coverings while in indoor public places. The order also prohibits all non-essential travel throughout the borough.

Maniilaq Public Health Nursing is working with the state to perform contact tracing and encourages residents to avoid non-essential travel state-wide and between villages. It encourages residents who are concerned they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 to call the COVID Hotline at 833-442-7015 before going to the emergency room or a local clinic. For more information and COVID-19 resources, visit www.maniilaq.org/covid-19/.

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