Bristol Bay communities concerned they don’t have resources for a coronavirus outbreak

Published: May. 26, 2020 at 6:39 PM AKDT
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Residents in Pilot Point, a city in Bristol Bay with a tiny population of about 76, worry as contractors, surveyors and fishermen make their way in during the pandemic.

Steven Kramer, a long-term resident, hasn’t had much for company these days besides his dog. He’s practicing social distancing. He’s unsure what coronavirus could do to him if he catches it.

"I seem to catch every cold that comes to this town,” he said. “I have emphysema. Just for me to go out to the car, I get out of breath real easy. But it's not just me either. We've got a lot of elders here at risk. We've got one that's a lot older than I am and she's on oxygen 24 hours a day.”

He’s talking about the city manager’s mother.

Lori Abyo-Phillips' mother is elderly and requires oxygen. She’s worried about what could happen when they start to see hundreds of people come into town. She hopes they will keep their distance from residents.

“So it's kind of like take care of business in their little town and go back to your boat or your fish camp,” Abyo-Phillips said.

According to the city manager, the only health resource is the city's clinic. Her plan for the city and their efforts toward containing coronavirus explains that out-of-towners need to have their own medical plan because help will likely be unavailable to them in Pilot Point.

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association is trying to help fishermen be safe and respectful of these fragile communities.

“We’re trying to help the fleet understand what steps they have to do to stay legal and what the requirements but also the recommendations are to keep everyone safe,” said Andi Wink, the executive director.

Wink said he encourages those out-of-state to test for coronavirus before heading in. The BBRSDA also passes out flags to ship if they have someone in quarantine on board as well as masks, hand sanitizer, and other resources.

A list of coronavirus resources for fishermen is available on their

Many of the concerns in the Bristol Bay communities have to do without of state workers. Two non-resident cases in Anchorage were identified by the DHSS yesterday as seafood industry workers. That brought the non-resident case numbers up to 17. 12 Of those people are in the seafood industry.

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