Covid had spared Alaska’s most remote villages. Not anymore.

Now everyone in this 700-person Indigenous community knows someone who had the coronavirus. Thirty-three residents tested positive this month, part of a wave of coronavirus cases that have shut down small towns in Alaska. Currently, more than 20 communities in western Alaska are either on strict lockdown or advised to be on one.

For months, Alaska’s remote, mostly Indigenous rural communities protected themselves from the coronavirus through restrictions on travel and local health measures. Once the virus arrived, though, conditions enabled it to spread like wildfire. Cases have exploded in recent weeks in some of the country’s most geographically isolated regions, leaving residents and health officials fearful that acute cases could quickly overwhelm the state’s meager hospital system.

In Chevak, a town of 1,075 near the mouth of the Yukon River in far western Alaska, almost a fifth of its residents have tested positive for the coronavirus as of this week.

After a handful of positive tests, Mayor Richard Tuluk said, leaders and health officials in the region quickly arranged for widespread testing at Chevak’s small local clinic. More than 700 people submitted samples. Tuluk says around 170 came back positive.

Chevak and other towns in the region have suspended in-person instruction across dozens of tiny community schools, relying on distance learning in a region with inconsistent and expensive Internet. The community’s lone store closed for days, prompting complaints from residents unable to get necessities like milk or diapers. The post office is severely backlogged. Masking is more strictly observed, and gatherings beyond immediate family have all but ceased.

Alaska managed to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the first months of the pandemic by locking down early. But numbers crept up over the summer and are now rising exponentially, with hundreds of daily cases reported. At 48.3 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week, the positivity rate is the eighth highest in the country, though Alaska has so far maintained among the lowest mortality rates for covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Chevak hasn’t yet seen high numbers of people falling seriously ill after testing positive.

“Knock on wood,” Tuluk said. “So far we haven’t heard of any of our elders getting sick or things like that.”

Lockdowns, quarantines and self-isolation are difficult in rural Alaska, particularly in the state’s western and northern quadrants. Housing is cramped. The inadequate broadband system makes Internet distractions like video-streaming or gaming difficult.

“Every household is sticking to themselves as much as possible,” said Charlotte Apatiki, who is Siberian Yupik and city clerk in Gambell.

At the height of its lockdown in late September and early October, the community’s store would only take food orders called in ahead of time as supply shipments sputtered. The mayor and some village police officers delivered food and water to residents in isolation.

“There was no fresh produce for quite a while, no fresh meat, nothing but canned goods,” Apatiki said.

In spite of the fear and difficulty, the measures worked. Gambell hasn’t

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Rising coronavirus case numbers prompt some districts to go to remote learning

An increase of positive COVID-19 cases prompted a couple of area school districts to shift to remote learning for the next couple of weeks.

On Wednesday, Hart ISD and Silverton ISD joined Lockney ISD in moving students to remote learning over the last month. As of Friday morning, Lockney High School students were expected to return to the classroom on Monday.

Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in surrounding counties.

According to the Texas Department State Health Services’ virus dashboard, as of Thursday afternoon, Swisher County had 140 total cases (increase of 12 over the last week), Castro 289 (increase of 62), Lamb 491 (increase of 64) and Floyd County 121 (increase of two).

Of these reported total cases, Floyd County had 14 active cases, Lamb County 144, Castro County 28 and Swisher County 31.

The City of Lubbock’s COVID-19 numbers continued to show a strong increase over the last week. On Friday, Lubbock announced 16,602 total cases (up from 14,675 last week), 2,240 active cases, 14,189 recoveries (up from 12,518) and 21 additional deaths, a total of 173 deaths.

The Amarillo Public Health Department’s report that came out on Friday afternoon shows 12,302 total cases, which is up from 11,209 total cases last week. Active cases went from 3,509 to 4,032 and 154 deaths. These numbers reflect totals combined between Potter and Randall County.

On Oct. 16, Hart ISD announced it would get rid of remote learning on Jan. 5. One week later (Oct. 22), the district announced four new confirmed cases of coronavirus within the district and shifted to remote learning. Students are expected to return the classrooms on Nov. 2.

Silverton announced that two staff members had tested positive for the virus and that the district would be halting on-campus learning until Nov. 9.

In addition to the remote learning, Silverton and Hart also had to cancel some UIL activities until the districts return to in-person learning. Silverton canceled the remainder of its football season while Hart has canceled its next two games, though the Longhorns are hoping to play at least one more game.

Several schools posted detailed breakdowns of their COVID-19 situations throughout the district this week. These were posted to their respective Facebook pages.

Lockney ISD reported that the district had 13 positive cases and 160 students quarantined as of Tuesday. Of those total quarantined individuals, 92 of them were in the high school – 84 students and eight adults.

Lockney also issued a plea to parents and students to follow health guidelines so the district’s virus issues can improve.

“Whether you agree, disagree, or are indifferent to the whole COVID mess is irrelevant at this point,” the Lockney ISD Facebook post stated. “We can either comply with the rules set before us or we can kiss football, basketball, and any other activities that our kids enjoy goodbye.”

Lockney’s football schedule has already shifted multiple times since the beginning of school in Aug. The Longhorns have clinched a playoff spot though there remains the

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Brookfield Schools Switch To Remote After 2 Coronavirus Cases

BROOKFIELD, CT The Brookfield Public Schools will be switching to all distance learning, effective Wednesday.

The move is the recommendation of Dr. Raymond Sullivan, the Brookfield public health director, following a report that a member of the Whisconier Middle School and a member of the Huckleberry Elementary School communities have tested positive for coronavirus.

“Currently, we have had no identified in-school transmission; however, the spread continues to climb in the community within families, which is driving this decision,” Superintendent John Barile said in an email to parents Tuesday night.

Remote learning will continue every day with the intention of returning to the hybrid attendance model on Nov. 5, Barile said.

Both of the patients who tested positive for COVID-19 are quarantining at home for 14 days, according to an email Barile sent to parents Tuesday morning.

“Anyone who is considered a ‘close contact’ with these individuals has been contacted by now or will be contacted very soon and provided with instructions on the appropriate steps to take, which includes quarantine for 14 days,” Barile said.

The hiccup has not altered the district’s plans to return to full in-person learning for Kindergarten through Grade 8 on Nov. 9. Barile told parents he would continue to “evaluate the health data” and consult with Sullivan.

COVID-19 is spread mainly via person-to-person contact through contaminated air droplets from coughing and sneezing by an infected person. Cases are on the rise in Connecticut, according to the latest data from the state Department of Public Health.

This article originally appeared on the Brookfield Patch

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Caliber Raises $2.2M for its Fully Remote and Personalized Fitness Coaching Platform

It’s been easy to gain the Covid-15 during the lockdown, and now that things are slowly opening back up, people are looking for new ways to shed the extra pounds that may have accumulated. Caliber is the fitness coaching platform that offers strength training, nutrition guidance, and a personal fitness coach that’s accessible via text and video messaging to keep you on track.  By pairing Caliber members with fitness experts, Caliber solves the biggest hurdle in getting into and staying in shape – accountability. Members can choose to pay monthly or through a 3 to 6-month subscription and coaches on the platform can supplement their income that comes from training in person.

AlleyWatch caught up with Cofounder and CEO Jared Cluff to learn more about the genesis for the business, how the public’s perception of working out outside of the gym completely flipped, and the company’s recent funding round.

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

We raised $2.2M for our Seed round.  The round was led by Patricia Nakache at Trinity Ventures based in the Bay Area, with participation from Gaingels, based here in New York.

Tell us about the product or service that Caliber offers.

Caliber is the future of fitness coaching.  We are a comprehensive, fully remote fitness coaching platform that combines a strength-based training methodology with expert human coaching to help our members achieve their fitness goals regardless of their age, experience level, or access to equipment.

Coaching takes place via the Caliber app, where our members can access their personalized training and nutrition plan, interact 1-on-1 with their coach via text and video messaging, complete their workouts and record their body stats, develop healthy habits through weekly Caliber Lessons, and monitor their progress via their Caliber Strength Metrics.

What inspired the start of Caliber?

It’s bizarre, my cofounders and I all share the same story of walking into a gym for the first time as scrawny teenagers, witnessing a bunch of red-faced, grunting dudes stomping around and glaring at each other… and immediately hightailing it out of there.

Yet despite that formative and slightly terrifying first encounter with the gym, we’ve all grown to incorporate fitness – and strength training in particular – as a foundational part of our lives.  The research backs it up, too.  Training for strength is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise.  Recent studies have proven a link between muscle mass and lifespan and have shown that regular strength training can reduce the risk of heart disease by 80% or more.  In addition to improving your cardiovascular health and your longevity, strength training can have a dramatic impact on your mood.  We each can’t start our day without some form of workout, and we’re passionate about sharing the benefits of regular training to people who haven’t yet experienced these benefits firsthand.

At this stage in life for me and my cofounders, it’s not about the aesthetics of being fit, but rather about helping our members

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Even dentist visits go remote during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed many in-person activities into remote services delivered over the internet. The latest example is the dreaded visit to the dentist.

Dvora Brandstatter used to drive her son Elchanan half an hour to the orthodontist and back every month to make sure his braces were working properly. Now, from the comfort of her home in Bergenfield, New Jersey, she attaches a special scope to her smartphone camera, opens an app and inserts the contraption into the 11-year-old’s mouth. A video of the boy’s choppers is sent to his dentist, who checks progress, diagnoses any issues and sometimes ends the appointment right there.

“As a parent, having fewer appointments is a good thing,” Brandstatter said. “I haven’t seen a downside so far. It’s probably the way everything is moving anyway.”

The app and the scope were created last year by New Jersey-based startup Grin. After the pandemic hit, Chief Executive Officer and dentist Adam Schulhof said the company sped up development of the technology and partnered with manufacturer 3M to quickly distribute it to as many orthodontists as possible. About 5,000 units have shipped out and roughly 1,000 patients have used the system so far, according to Grin.

Schulhof, who uses the system for his own practice, said the coronavirus has spurred huge demand for new procedures that help people reduce the close contact that typically happens when they visit the dentist. The CDC has warned that dental instruments create spray that can contain droplets of water, saliva, blood and other debris, and has advised the use of “teledentistry” as an alternative to in-office care.

When the Grin videos arrive at the dentist’s office, other software from the startup helps practitioners analyze the condition of the teeth and integrates the footage with existing patient management systems. The app also lets patients see what the dentist sees inside their mouth. Not for the faint of heart.

There are already new, internet-focused dental services that Grin is going up against. Companies such as SmileDirectClub mail invisible aligners and braces to consumers. SmileDirectClub shares have more than doubled since the middle of March. Schulfhof said Grin’s offering is aimed at fighting the challenge to conventional dentistry from such direct-to-consumer offerings. “We’re trying to disrupt the disrupters,” he added.

In the short term, the technology will help orthodontists keep their businesses running while many patients avoid the dentist’s office completely, the CEO said. As smartphone capabilities improve and the software develops, Schulhof expects Grin’s scope to use artificial intelligence image analysis to become a more powerful diagnostic tool for dentists.

The CEO also sees the technology gaining traction in general dentistry where insurance companies may back its use. People’s teeth decay at different rates and more regular, remote checks, could be used to identify problems before they require more complicated and expensive treatment at in-person visits every six months, he said.

More on the coronavirus outbreak

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