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As COVID cases decline across the state, Bristol Bay's health corporation stands down response team for the second time

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Izzy Ross
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KDLG
BBAHC staff at Dillingham's first COVID-19 vaccine clinic. Jan. 14, 2021.

The health corporation said it believes it has met its “goals and criteria” to dismantle the Incident Command team. In the Dillingham Census Area, the state has reported 86 confirmed cases so far this month.

The Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation is dismantling the team aimed at addressing COVID-19 in its service area. In an announcement on Wednesday, the health corporation said the Hospital Incident Command Team will stand down on March 1.

The health corporation created the Incident Command Team in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020. The team was made up of hospital staff, and included a commander, public information officer, medical/technical specialist, and four people to coordinate operations, planning, logistics, and finance and administration. The health corporation said the framework was designed to be scaled up and down and mobilized in response to a variety of emergencies.

The health corporation dismantled the team in June of 2021. But it reactivated the team a few months later, in September, in response to a surge of cases around the region.

In the announcement, the health corporation said it collaborated with Tribes, organizations and local governments to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in the region — including the predominant omicron variant. It chalks up the recent decrease in case counts to vaccinations, protective measures and guidance from local, state and federal governments.

Cases have decreased by 36% across the state in February, according to state data. In the Dillingham Census Area it reported 86 confirmed cases so far this month. Cases across the census area have dropped somewhat since the latest peak in January, when 38 cases were reported on Jan. 24.

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Alaska Department of Health and Social Services COVID-19 Dashboard
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State of Alaska COVID-19 cases for Dillingham Census Area from 2020 - Feb. 2022.

Dillingham Public Health said that as of today, there are 10 active cases in Dillingham proper.

In the Bristol Bay and Lake and Peninsula boroughs, there have been 21 confirmed cases so far this month.

The health corporation said it believes it has met its “goals and criteria” to dismantle the Incident Command team, and will still be prepared to respond in the event of another surge in COVID-19 cases. It says it will continue COVID-19 services, like testing, as part of its everyday operations.

Residents should contact their health care providers if they are experiencing symptoms, or if they are exposed to COVID-19. The health corporation asks that you call ahead if you have symptoms and are seeking medical care.

Contact the author at izzy@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.