COVID-19 Updates

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BSNC COVID-19 UPDATESResources

May 21, 2021Update from Norton Sounds Health Corporation: Three COVID-19 Cases Identified with P.1 Variant

A more transmissible variant of COVID-19 has been identified in the region. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services notified Norton Sound Health Corporation that three individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 in Nome earlier this month had cases of the P.1 variant.

The P.1 variant is a strain of the COVID-19 virus that was first discovered in Japan in travelers from Brazil. The variant wreaked havoc across Brazil and Latin America earlier this year. The strain is 60% more easily spread than the original virus, and it has a mutation that allows it to potentially evade immunity.

Norton Sound Health Corporation feels it is urgent for those who are eligible and have not yet gotten vaccinated to get in as early as possible to do so. The state’s public health experts say it is especially important to get communities to a high level of vaccination to combat this variant’s spread. Forty-two percent of the region’s total population remains unvaccinated.

The current COVID-19 vaccines have proven effective against this strain of virus, especially the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna. And, it appears the mRNA vaccines give you better immunity against the P.1 variant than natural immunity from a previous COVID-19 infection. There have been some individuals who have had COVID-19 who have expressed they won’t get vaccinated because of their natural immunity. The P.1 variant is a reason for those people to get vaccinated, so they and their community can be better protected. Those who are currently fully vaccinated are considered quite well protected.

The State of Alaska continues to watch for these variants because of their contagiousness and their ability to evade immunity. Each positive case is tested for the different strains. The region’s three cases are among 15 total P.1 variant cases in the state.

Everyone in the region who is 12 years and older is eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. In a village, residents may contact their local clinic to arrange a vaccination. In Nome, vaccinations are available at the following places and times:

  • Nome NSHC Pharmacy: walk-in Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-3 p.m. Appointments are available Monday-Saturday at www.picktime.com/NSHC.
  • Nome airport: Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are offered to all incoming passengers 12 years and older.
  • Nome post office: Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available Monday-Friday 12-3:30 p.m.

Stay up to date with the latest by visiting https://www.nortonsoundhealth.org/category/covid-19/.

May 12, 2021COVID-19 Pfizer Vaccine now Available to 12-15 Year Olds

Norton Sound Health Corporation is now offering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 12-15. On Monday, May 10, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine and on Wednesday, May 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory committee also approved the vaccine for this age group.

NSHC will send vaccines to the village schools beginning Thursday, May 13 with tentative plans to administer the vaccine on Friday, May 14, once parents or guardians have filled out NSHC’s consent form and reviewed the fact sheet.

In Nome, the Pfizer vaccine is available for anyone ages 12 and up, by appointment or walk-in. To schedule an appointment, please visit www.picktime.com/NSHC.

Parents and guardians can visit the links below to preview the Pfizer vaccine fact sheet and sign the consent form for their child’s vaccinations here:

If your child has received any other type of vaccination within the last 14 days, they can still receive the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine. In addition, the FDA declared the Pfizer vaccine is safe and offers strong protection for younger teens based on testing of more than 2,000 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15. Researchers also found that children developed higher levels of virus-fighting antibodies than earlier studies measured in young adults.

Vaccinating children is seen as crucial to ending the pandemic and returning to normalcy. This region is more likely to reach herd immunity once children are vaccinated against COVID-19.

NSHC is aiming for herd immunity with a target of 70-80% of the entire region vaccinated, including children under the age of 16. Currently, 58% of the total population has been vaccinated. The region is 12-22% away from meeting the herd immunity goal, when things may safely reopen and return to normal.

If you have questions or concerns about the vaccine, you can call into NSHC’s Tribal Leader Call on Monday or Wednesday at 1-800-315-6338; access code 03286#, or email NSHC’s medical staff for answers at covidinfo@nshcorp.org.

March 15, 2021COVID-19 Vaccinations Available at Select Fred Meyer Pharmacies

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine gives you an added layer of protection against COVID-19 and can protect your coworkers, your family and your community. Kroger has partnered with federal and state agencies to deliver one million doses of vaccine a week across the U.S. In Alaska, it will be available at select Fred Meyer pharmacies. You can check out COVID-19 immunization appointments available at Fred Meyer pharmacies here: Kroger – Vaccinations

For other COVID-19 vaccine providers, check the State of Alaska COVID-19 webpage: COVID-19 Vaccine Status in Alaska or call 907-646-3322

Once you are fully immunized against COVID-19 please send a photo of your vaccine card to hr@beringstraits.com

March 10, 2021COVID-19 Vaccine Available to all Alaskans 16 or Older

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced that the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all Alaskans who are 16 or older, effective immediately. Alaskans can get more information or sign up for a vaccine at http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/id/pages/COVID-19/vaccine.aspx or by calling 907-646-3322.

March 8, 2021SCF Extends COVID-19 Vaccination Availability to ANC Employees

Southcentral Foundation (SCF) has extended COVID-19 vaccination availability to employees of Alaska Native Corporations. Under this ANC-specific policy, all direct corporate employees of BSNC are eligible to receive the vaccine at this time. Subsidiary employees in Alaska who are at least 40 years old are also eligible as supplies last.

Appointments are now available at SCF’s Anchorage vaccine clinic through the following link: http://vax.nuka.com. Appointments will be limited based on SCF’s current vaccine supply and are administered at the Dr. Kevin and Katherine Gottlieb Building at 4441 Diplomacy Drive, 2nd Floor, Anchorage, AK 99508. Customer-owners should contact their primary care provider or call 907-729- 3300 to make a vaccine appointment.

February 16, 2021CDC Says Fully Vaccinated People May Skip Covid Quarantines

CDC yesterday released an update to its recommended guidance on Vaccines & Immunizations. The guidance provides updated quarantine recommendations for fully vaccinated persons who “meet criteria will no longer be required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19.”

Since the introduction of vaccines, the CDC has generally maintained the same guidance for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. The CDC had explained that additional research was necessary into whether vaccinated individuals could become infected with the virus and spread it to others, and maintained that these individuals should mask, social distance, and quarantine (among other precautions), consistent with the CDC’s general recommendations.

The CDC has now changed one of these recommendations: vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:

• Are fully vaccinated (e.g. two vaccine doses and the 14-day wait period)
• Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series
• Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure

Persons who do not meet all of the criteria are required to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

The CDC has not changed any other guidance for vaccinated individuals. Vaccinated persons should continue to follow all the other current guidance to protect themselves and others, including “wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or SARS-CoV-2 testing.”

This new guidance may reflect that the CDC has reviewed new data demonstrating that vaccinated persons pose and face less hazards. This change may portend additional revisions to CDC guidance in which vaccinated persons are permitted to reduce or even stop some COVID-19 precautions. According to news reports in the last few days, the CDC is discussing revising its social distancing guidelines for fully vaccinated persons as well.

Employers should consider updating their quarantining procedures to take into account the vaccination status of their employees. Employers should also closely track new CDC guidance which remains among the most authoritative sources on COVID-19 safety issues and determine whether they can change policies and procedures going forwards. They should also consult with outside counsel on how they can lawfully inquire as to employee vaccination status.

January 8, 2021COVID-19 Vaccines for Elders Age 65+ Available

Statewide Elders 65 years of age or older are eligible to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine starting Jan. 11. To schedule a vaccination appointment, go to the State of Alaska, COVID-19 Vaccine website at: http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/id/pages/COVID-19/vaccine.aspx. If there are no appointments available, check back later. The State of Alaska is experiencing challenges getting enough vaccine providers set up in the system so keep checking the website for vaccine appointments in your area. Appointments are being added regularly.

In Nome, Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) is ahead of schedule. They have already begun vaccinating Elders. They have vaccinated 1,500 people already including health care workers, Elders, teachers, corrections officers, grocery store workers, postal workers and customer-facing airline staff. NSHC has temporarily closed appointments. Once the next shipment of vaccine arrives next week, go to the NSHC website and book an appointment: https://www.picktime.com/NSHC. Vaccinations are available to the community by age. If you have questions, please call the NSHC Pharmacy (907) 443-3319.

November 9, 2020Are you needing a COVID test?

Anyone in Alaska seeking personal-related COVID testing should call their healthcare provider or check the Alaska DHSS website with information on testing locations across the state or call 211. If you need testing for BSNC work-related travel, please email rschubert@beringstraits.com.

http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/testing.aspx

September 10, 2020Kawerak CARES Act Funds

Kawerak now has CARES Act funding to provide financial assistance to Bering Strait Region Tribal members who have lost income due to COVID-19. Funding may cover rent, utilities, housing, childcare, fuel, household supplies, hygiene supplies and more. This program can cover expenses that were incurred in the month individuals lost income due to COVID-19 from March 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021.
Not a Bering Strait Region Tribal Member, but still live in the Bering Strait and need assistance? Check out Kawerak’s AK CAN DO program.
Learn more by visiting: https://kawerak.org/supportive-services/cares-act-funding-support/ or https://kawerak.org/supportive-services/ak-can-do-covid-19-support-program/

May 8, 2020CDC Cleaning and Disinfection Guidance

Cleaning and Disinfection Guidance: CDC previously released detailed guidance on cleaning and disinfection. They have updated their resources to add new information on Cleaning and Disinfecting: Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes. The information includes advice on developing a plan, implementing, maintaining and revising a plan as well as decision trees for making a plan to clean and disinfect different types of surfaces.

Information for Critical Infrastructure Employers: CDC released new guidance on COVID-19 Critical Infrastructure Sector Response Planning. The guidance includes information on creating and updating a response plan and what to do if employees are exposed.

May 6, 2020Drive-up Tent Testing in Nome

Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) offers expedited COVID-19 testing for people in Nome who have no symptoms of sickness. If you are symptom-free and would like to be screened, you can stop by the testing tent in front of the hospital without an appointment from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. NSHC asks people follow the current recommendations to stay six feet apart and wear facemasks to prevent any potential unwanted sharing. Watch a video about the tent opening here.

In the villages, symptom-free patients may also receive testing by calling their local clinics.

Scheduling Appointments

If you live in a village, please call your local clinic for all health concerns. If the clinic is closed, your calls will ring to the Nurse Call Line. You can also call the Nurse Call Line directly at (907) 443-6411 or (844) 586-8773 with any urgent needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you live in Nome, please call the Primary Care Clinic during business hours if you feel sick or have other health care needs at (907) 443-3333. If you have urgent healthcare concerns outside clinic hours, feel free to contact the Nurse Call Line at (907) 443-6411.

In Nome, if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are directed to come in for testing, please use the hospital’s rear entrance.

April 30, 2020COVID-19 Facial Coverings and PPE

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Health and Human Services (HHS) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are supporting the distribution of cloth facial coverings for the critical infrastructure workers who are not required to use medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) for their work. If your tribe or village would like cloth facial coverings, please see the information below.

Critical infrastructure workers include: food production and distribution, energy, water and wastewater treatment, essential transportation and logistics, first responders, communications, hazardous materials management, manufacturing of medical supplies and sanitation and disinfection services.

You may request as many masks as needed, at no cost to your tribe or village. If you are interested in receiving masks, please email fema-r10-tribal@fema.dhs.gov with the following:

Tribe Name:
Amount Requested (increments of 500):
Delivery Point of Contact Name:
Delivery Point of Contact Number:
USPS Shipping Address:
Days/Hours of Operation of the address provided:

Emails with this information must be received by 7 a.m. AlaskaTime every Friday to be considered for the following Monday shipment. Emails received after that time will be included in the following weeks shipments.

April 14, 2020Alaska Marine Lines Protocol Plans

Alaska Marine Lines/Alaska Marine Trucking is preparing to begin their seasonal operations into coastal Alaska and plan to operate as close to normal as they can with the many challenges we all face during this difficult time. Alaska Marine Lines provides essential transportation to and within Alaska by water from Kaktovik to Ketchikan and serves more than 100 coastal towns and villages in the state. Many of the markets they serve have very limited transportation alternatives for their essential food and supplies. Alaska Marine Lines takes their transportation responsibilities very seriously and are doing everything within their means to assure that our people remain healthy, allowing them to continue to provide these critical services in Alaska.

Read their COVID-19 Protocol Plans here:https://beringstraits.com/alaska-marine-lines-alaska-marine-trucking-to-begin-seasonal-operations/

April 30, 2020COVID-19 Facial Coverings and PPE

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Health and Human Services (HHS) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are supporting the distribution of cloth facial coverings for the critical infrastructure workers who are not required to use medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) for their work. If your tribe or village would like cloth facial coverings, please see the information below.

Critical infrastructure workers include: food production and distribution, energy, water and wastewater treatment, essential transportation and logistics, first responders, communications, hazardous materials management, manufacturing of medical supplies and sanitation and disinfection services.

You may request as many masks as needed, at no cost to your tribe or village. If you are interested in receiving masks, please email fema-r10-tribal@fema.dhs.gov with the following:

Tribe Name:
Amount Requested (increments of 500):
Delivery Point of Contact Name:
Delivery Point of Contact Number:
USPS Shipping Address:
Days/Hours of Operation of the address provided:

Emails with this information must be received by 7 a.m. AlaskaTime every Friday to be considered for the following Monday shipment. Emails received after that time will be included in the following weeks shipments.

March 19, 2020COVID-19 Basics

Do your part to slow the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Even if you are young and healthy, you are at risk and your activities can increase the risk of severe illness and death for others.

March 18, 2020COVID-19 Dealing with Stress

The outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about and your community stronger. You are not alone in feeling this way, many others are sharing the same feelings during this outbreak. It is important to take care of yourself and support yourself through these times.

Things you can do to support yourself:

• Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
• Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
• Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
• Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

BSNC’s Employee Assistance Program, operated by Cigna, provides information and resources related to COVID-19. Employees or their family members may call 1-800-538-3543 or visit http://www.cignalap.com/.

If you, or someone you care about is feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call:

• 911
• Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced that the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all Alaskans who are 16 or older, effective immediately. Alaskans can get more information or sign up for a vaccine at http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/id/pages/COVID-19/vaccine.aspx or by calling 907-646-3322.

March 10, 2021COVID-19 Vaccine Available to all Alaskans 16 or Older

March 10, 2021COVID-19 Vaccine Available to all Alaskans 16 or Older

March 10, 2021COVID-19 Vaccine Available to all Alaskans 16 or Older

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