ANCHORAGE, Alaska This week rapid test kits and testing machines are being distributed from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to regional tribal health organizations throughout rural Alaska.
Initially, 40 test analyzers will be sent with 48 COVID-19 test kits each. The test will provide a result the same day a person is tested.
“We were having some issues in the rural communities because to get the testing done was requiring that the swabs be sent to labs that were not anywhere close to the rural areas. And so when we found out that there was going to be a rapid test that could be done on site, that seemed like a wonderful opportunity to repond to that need to get those testing opportunities into the rural communities,” Dr. Holly Alfrey, Chief Medical Officer at Alaska Native Medical Hospital said.
Alfrey says ANTHC anticipates an ongoing supply of test kits. ANTHC is currently holding some of the rapid tests it received to resupply areas upon request.
Alfrey says early detection is key to keeping communities free of a large outbreak, and the rapid tests are an important part of enabling that.
“It allows for a much quicker result. And so the more quickly you can get a result, the more quickly you can respond in terms of quarantining that person, preventing further people from being exposed to that person,” Alfrey said. “I would encourage anyone who thinks they’ve been exposed or has any kinds of symptoms at all, or whose healthcare provider is encouraging testing, that they be tested. It’s one of the kindest things you can do for your community. No one should feel ashamed of having COVID-19. It’s something that is just very contagious, so people really should be screened if they have any concerns at all.”
The testing kits are being distributed to regional tribal health organizations, and each individual organization will be able to decide how to distribute the tests within their regions.
ANTHC says the organizations receiving kits are:
· Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation
· Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
· Tanana Chiefs Conference
· Norton Sound Health Corporation
· Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation
· Maniilaq Association
· Arctic Slope Native Association
· Kodiak Area Native Association
· Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association
· Eastern Aleutian Tribes
· Kenaitze Indian Tribe
· Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments-Fort Yukon
· Copper River Native Association
· Native Village of Eyak
· Ketchikan Indian Community
· Metlakatla Indian Community
· Mt. Sanford Tribal Consortium
· Seldovia Village Tribe
· Yakutat Tlingit Tribe
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