Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
Your voice in the Aleutians.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
The KUCB Newsroom provides newscasts Monday through Thursday at noon and 5 PM on KUCB Radio. You can find many of our local news stories here.

Unalaska gets new supply of at-home COVID-19 test kits through the state

Hope McKenney

Unalaska is once again handing out at-home coronavirus test kits, according to local health officials.

The island received its first supply earlier this month, but ran out less than 24 hours after offering them to the public.

Iliuliuk Family and Health Services received 400 kits from the state Tuesday, each with two tests per box, said Jennifer Heller, a certified nurse midwife with the clinic.

The Public Library and Community Center currently have about 50 boxes each. Each household is allowed up to two.

Heller said clinic staff hope to restock both public buildings weekly until the state supply runs out. They’re trying to space the distributions so that everyone who needs a test kit has an opportunity to get one.

“”[We’re] trying to account for meeting the needs of those who have work schedules that don’t allow them to get there right away,” Heller said. “The timeline of the distributions is not set in stone, but will be no longer than one week apart.”

The at-home tests should be used by anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or has been exposed to someone who’s sick with the virus, clinic officials told KUCB earlier this month. But, they cautioned, the at-home tests turn positive later in the course of infection than PCR tests and can sometimes be falsely negative even when patients have symptoms.

Community members should still go to IFHS or the APIA clinic to get a more sensitive PCR test, if possible, they said.

IFHS is scheduling appointments within one to two days, and gives results in 24 hours. Financial support is available to cover the cost for the uninsured, Heller added.

“It’s helpful to keep perspective,” she said. “The state of Alaska has been overwhelmed by requests like ours and have given out all the tests they had. Testing is in short supply all over the nation.”

The U.S. Postal Service is also taking orders for at-home test kits distributed by the federal government. Households can order four rapid tests, which the Postal Service says will be shipped for free “in late January.”

To order through the postal service, visit

Meanwhile, local case counts appear to be dropping again, after the island recorded its largest spike since the start of the pandemic earlier this month.

As of Wednesday morning, the City of Unalaska reported 142 active cases of COVID-19 on the island. Fifty are considered community acquired, and the rest are industry-quarantined.

But in St. Paul, case counts continue to rise. As of Wednesday morning, the city reported there are currently 28 active cases of the virus on the remote island. Since the start of the pandemic, they’ve recorded nearly 50 cases of the virus.

The island has long had strict COVID measures in place, including testing requirements and, more recently, a public list of who is quarantining and why.

Hope McKenney is a public radio news director, reporter, producer and host based in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
Related Content