Additional testing machines, personnel headed to Bristol Bay villages

May 29, 2020

BBAHC conducted a second round of testing in the Chignik region Wednesday, and a security contractor conducted vulnerability assessments in the Bristol Bay Borough and Dillingham. 

A testing line at the Dillingham harbor. May 21, 2020.
Credit Tyler Thompson/KDLG

The state is continuing to emphasize testing as a major part of its strategy to manage COVID-19 ahead of the fishing season.

Alaska State Trooper Lieutenant Paul Fussy, the AST liaison for emergency management, said in a community update Thursday that state troopers can only enforce state mandates, not local ordinances. But he said a team from the state is currently assessing the needs of Dillingham and the Bristol Bay Borough to coordinate additional security.  

“They’re looking to set up the alternate testing site there in Dillingham and then the security team will be working with your folks there in Dillingham to help out,” he said. 

Denali Universal Services conducted a vulnerability assessment and consulted with local law enforcement in both Dillingham and the Bristol Bay Borough. Denali is reporting back to the state, and City Manager Tod Larson said that now he and Mayor Alice Ruby are waiting for the state’s response. 

 

"We're going to keep the pressure on the state to produce the security solution that the state had committed to. So I just want to make sure that they follow through with it," Larson said at a Dillingham City Council Workshop Tuesday.

 

The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium has sent out seven additional testing machines to the corporation for village clinics with the health aides to operate them. Medical Director Dr. Bob Onders says they are also working to provide additional personnel to the region. 

"We're able to free up a couple health aides and a physician's assistant to work with Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation. I think those personnel are supposed to be coming out this weekend to help with their response and to support Bristol Bay," he said. 

Several village clinics currently have rapid test machines, including Goodnews Bay, Togiak, Manokotak, New Stuyahok, Koliganek, and Chignik Bay. Dr. Cathy Hyndman, the clinical director of BBAHC, said they also have a testing plan for communities that do not have health aides.   

“And that plan would involve sending out a team to do screenings and testing at the village, similar to the team that went out [Wednesday],” she said.

Last week, a resident of the Chignik region tested positive for COVID-19 in Anchorage. The first round of close contact testing last week all came back negative. Hyndman said they sent a team to administer a second round of testing Wednesday. About 70 people were tested and those results are still pending. 

The Camai Clinic in Naknek is offering walk-up and drive-through testing as of May 27. Testing is available weekdays from 1 - 3:00 p.m. The Leader Creek satellite clinic will open next week. Camai is also coordinating travel to South Naknek, so that community members there can get tested at least three times during the season.

 

The Bristol Bay Borough is contracting with ADESCO for security in South Naknek. The borough reports that that contract, along with Camai’s additional facilities and the additional COVID-19 personnel, will be reimbursed through the CARES Act.  

 

If you are experiencing any health problems, you can call the Kanakanak Hospital ER at 907-842-9422. For COVID-19 testing, call 842-9440 to set up an appointment.

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