During the COVID-19 outbreak, life in the villages poses its own set of challenges. Since some communities are without running water and many people live in overcrowded homes, many state and federal guidelines for how to stay healthy and prevent the spread of coronavirus do not apply. Here are some recommendations that the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation has tailored for Y-K Delta village residents:
Washing hands without running water
YKHC Director of Environmental Health and Engineering Brian Lefferts says that you should use a bleach solution to wash your hands if you don’t have running water. He recommends using a hand basin with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of bleach and 8 cups of water that is changed out daily.
Getting running water
ARUC manages water and sewer systems for a number of Y-K Delta communities and is reconnecting homes that were unable to pay for running water.
How to quarantine or practice social distancing in crowded homes
Lefferts says that when a person comes back home from outside the region, the whole family should go into quarantine. If possible, the person coming home should stay in their own room for much of the time. He also says that homes that are quarantining should put signs on their door to let community members know not to come in.
Getting tested for COVID-19 in the villages
YKHC Infection Control Officer Dr. Elizabeth Bates says that some patients have already been tested for COVID-19 in sub-regional clinics like Emmonak and St. Mary’s. The health corporation is still in the process of developing testing capability in the remaining health clinics. YKHC Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges says that people need to call ahead to their village clinic if they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, such as a fever or a dry cough.
If you have any questions about staying healthy or preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the villages, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.