Eastern Aleutian Tribes vaccinates some of Alaska's farthest-flung communities

Mar 23, 2021

One of the most remote regions in Alaska is the Aleutian Islands. And for the most part, communities along the island chain have done well throughout the pandemic, recording relatively few cases outside of seafood processing plants.

But as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available across the state and country, health care providers are grappling with the logistical challenges of distributing vaccines to the region's windswept communities

Anchorage Pacific Islander community brings COVID-19 vaccines to church

Mar 5, 2021

Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians have some of the lowest rates of vaccination against COVID-19 in Alaska — and highest rates of hospitalization and death. Community leaders have gotten creative to encourage vaccination.

A 33-year-old woman from Pilot Station returned home on Feb. 8 after spending over two months in hospitals. Nastasia “Bea” Xavier recovered after being in a medically induced coma for weeks due to COVID-19 complications. Her mother said that she’s her “miracle child.”

Nearly 5,000 people in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and almost a fifth of those people have also received their second dose. That makes more people in the region who have received at least one dose of the vaccine than have tested positive for the virus. Across the region, 4,248 people have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Jan. 20, according to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation.

After months of successfully avoiding COVID-19 in its facilities, more than 40 percent of inmates in Alaska’s prisons have now been infected with the disease.

That has frustrated advocates and families who point to overcrowding in prisons, inconsistent precautions, and a general lack of transparency about what is happening inside the Department of Corrections.

In rural Alaska, COVID-19 vaccines hitch a ride on planes, sleds and water taxi

Jan 11, 2021

One of the biggest challenges for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine from drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech is keeping it cold.

But Dr. Ellen Hodges, contending with sub-zero temperatures on a remote Southwest Alaska airport tarmac last month, had the opposite problem as she prepared to vaccinate frontline health-care workers.

“It became immediately apparent that the vaccine was going to freeze in the metal part of the needle,” she said. “It was just kind of wild.”

Frustration builds for Southcentral Alaska restaurants amidst third shutdown

Dec 28, 2020

Halfway through the city’s third pandemic shutdown, Anchorage’s hospitality industry is struggling and increasingly frustrated. 

“Being shut down the entire month of December is a big blow to our restaurant,” said Frans Weits, co-owner of Girdwood eatery Jack Sprat. “We depend on December to make up for some slow fall months.” 

Nome’s Tribal health care provider expects to be receiving the first rounds of a COVID-19 vaccine this week. KNOM reports on how Norton Sound Health Corporation, or NSHC, plans to distribute those initial doses.

NSHC plans to follow federal and state guidelines for a vaccine roll-out by targeting their nursing home residents and staff at the Quyanna Care Center when the first doses arrive, according to NSHC medical director Mark Peterson.

A 37-year-old man in Pilot Station died from COVID-19 at the village health clinic before he could be transported to a hospital. Stormy conditions prevented a medevac from reaching him.

Joe Xavier’s symptoms began on Nov. 22, according to his sister, Donna Xavier-Fancyboy. Within a day, she said that his skin had changed color from lack of oxygen.

“Already blue, and fighting to breathe,” Xavier-Fancyboy said.

Y-K Delta COVID-19 rate one of the highest in the country

Nov 5, 2020

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region is experiencing a huge increase in COVID-19 cases. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported that if the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta were a state, it would have the fourth highest rate of cases in the country.  Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation chief of staff Dr. Ellen Hodges said that what is happening in the region is following a pattern set in Alaska’s urban areas.