In Gambell, COVID-19 cases more than doubled last week

An overview of Gambell, Alaska, in 2015. (Kristin Leffler/KNOM)

There are now 17 active cases of COVID-19 in the St. Lawrence Island community of Gambell. Norton Sound Health Corporation announced four patients tested positive for the virus on Friday and three on Saturday — that’s on top of four other Gambell cases announced earlier in the week.

According to a press release from NSHC, the health corporation has been working with tribal leaders for more than a week to reduce any further spread of the coronavirus. The City of Gambell has instituted a hunker down mandate asking all residents to remain at home for two weeks and to only leave for necessary medical needs and groceries.

NSHC says the local village public safety officer is patrolling in the village to help limit contact between residents. There is also a community-wide curfew in place.

Roughly 400 people, or more than half of Gambell’s population, have been tested for COVID-19 since one household with six individuals contracted the virus earlier this month. NSHC says they will send a second response team to Gambell this week.

Separately, a resident of Savoonga tested positive for the virus on Friday. According to NSHC, the patient was identified through the community’s testing and quarantine requirements for travelers coming to Savoonga. The individual is safely isolating, and the community’s leaders have been notified.

The State Section of Epidemiology and Public Health Nursing are following up with any close contacts of the newly confirmed cases. There are now 78 cases of COVID-19 in the Norton Sound region. Twenty are active while 58 are considered recovered.