Four Bristol Bay Borough residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since Wednesday

Sep 14, 2020

The active case count in the borough is currently at nine, but Camai clinic Director Mary Swain says that three people will be marked as recovered today, which will drop that total down to six. 

Testing at the Leader Creek clinic is Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Screengrab from a video taken by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. July 11, 2020.
Credit Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

Four residents of the Bristol Bay Borough have tested positive for COVID-19 since Wednesday.

Since September 4, the Camai Community Health Center in Naknek says it has identified 10 cases of COVID-19. One of those cases has since recovered.

That brings the total number of active cases in the borough to nine, according to Camai. Director Mary Swain says that three people will be marked as recovered today, which will drop the active case count to six. 

Camai reported last week that there was likely community spread in the borough after six residents tested positive. Swain says that since then, her office has gotten several calls asking about quarantine and testing procedures.

“One of the main questions that we’re getting is, ‘Who’s a close contact?” Of course, public health, as well as Camai, have to really protect patient information,” Swain said. 

The only person able to determine who is a close contact is the public health nurse assigned to a case. The public health team relies on individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 to give them accurate information about close contacts. That information is private and protected by medical privacy laws, and it’s not shared with law enforcement. 

Still, Swain said, navigating those dynamics can be difficult.

“We’re a small community, so our staff is being reached out by some of their family and some of their friends," she explained. "So it’s a very hard line to draw in the sand with family and friends, that, ‘No, this is work-related, and I can’t speak about it.’ Or, ‘This is me in my social setting, and I see exactly what you’re seeing, but I can’t say anything about it.’ So unfortunately it’s just making a lot of people uncomfortable.”

Public health workers call people identified as close contacts and instruct them to monitor themselves for symptoms while they wait out a 14-day quarantine. That means they should stay home and not contact people outside their household. People who have COVID-19 should isolate themselves by staying home and having no contact with others. Positive individuals are released from isolation once they’ve recovered from the disease

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, the clinic urges them to disclose everyone they have been in contact with so they can help stop the disease from spreading in the community. 

The clinic also asks everyone to keep their social interactions to a minimum and wear a mask to reduce the risk to others.

Here is an outline of the Camai clinic's testing protocols:

 

If you are identified as a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you are to quarantine for 14 days. On day seven or later, if you do not have symptoms, you are eligible for a COVID-19 test. This test will not get you out of quarantine, but will help identify if you have contracted COVID-19. If you do develop symptoms before day seven of quarantine, you can contact the clinic at (907) 246-6155 and a medical provider will advise you on next steps.

 

If you have traveled into the Bristol Bay Borough from outside of Alaska, you are eligible for a test on day seven or later after arrival into Bristol Bay Borough. This will not get you out of quarantine.

 

If you would like to get a test but are not a close contact and are not returning from travel outside the state, you are eligible for a test every other week.

 

If you test positive for COVID-19 you are not eligible for a test for at least three months.

 

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