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.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation is sanitizing and reusing gloves as its supply of the personal protective equipment, or PPE, runs short.

The regional health care provider issued a notice  Oct. 21 to Facebook announcing that its workers are wearing the same gloves for up to six patients, and sanitizing the gloves with alcohol-based hand sanitizer between patients.

Gambell is having the region’s largest outbreak of Covid-19. On October 4, the community had 29 cases being reported. Residents in Gambell are living in lockdown with limited resources.

(Editor’s note: This story was originally published by KNOM in Nome on October 4. Some data may be out out of date as of this re-publishing)

On Aug. 31, the Bethel City Council passed a mandate requiring people arriving at the Alaska Airlines terminal to be tested for COVID-19. The mandate also states that taxi drivers picking up passengers at the airport must check that the passengers have been tested. That has been a bit awkward for drivers who are being asked to enforce the city’s law.

Amid COVID-19 restrictions, far fewer Outside hunters are coming to Alaska

Aug 28, 2020

Hunting season draws thousands of Outside tourists to Alaska every year. In 2019, The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sold 15,897 non-resident hunting licenses. The department says the coronavirus pandemic has crushed demand for non-resident hunting. So far, the department has sold only a quarter of that. As of August 12, the number of non-resident licenses was at just 3,594.