OPEN AIR CONCERT – From left, musicians Ross Venneberg, Brian Neal, Wade Demmert and Roger Schmidt perform an outdoor brass concert for residents of the Pioneers Home Monday. The professional musicians, who are hunkered down in Sitka, are regulars at the annual Holiday Brass Concert. The Pioneers Home has been closed to visitors during the pandemic. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Alaska Dems Cancel In-Person Primary

    KETCHIKAN (AP) — The Alaska Democratic Party will hold its party-run presidential primary exclusively by mail and is moving back the deadlines for returning and tabulating ballots.
    The party announced today it is canceling in-person voting sites planned for April 4 due to concerns with the coronavirus. But it is extending the deadline to return ballots by mail. Originally, ballots were to be postmarked by Tuesday. The party now says they must be received in Anchorage no later than April 10 to be counted.
    Results are expected no later than just before midnight on April 11.
    The party sent more than 71,000 registered Democrats ballots, which is seven times the number of people who participated in the 2016 caucuses, the party’s executive director, Lindsay Kavanaugh, said in a statement.
    “We want to continue to allow for maximum participation in this historic primary while respecting the health and safety of our voters and volunteers,” she said.
    Ballots also will be made available to download, the party said.
    The primary is open only to registered Democrats.
    In other coronavirus news in Alaska:
    Ketchikan is considering whether to allow cruise ships to dock there while waiting out the global ocean cruise suspension because of the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
    The Ketchikan City Council discussed allowing cruise operators to pay for space and services at its downtown berths during the nearly industry-wide suspension, The Ketchikan Daily News reported  Saturday.
    At least one cruise line approached the city about docking multiple ships at the berths, Ketchikan Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon said.
    Cruise Line International Association, accounting for 95% of the market, announced March 13 that its member lines planned to suspend cruises for 30 days.
    “It’s kind of like 9/11 with the airplanes,” Corporon said. “The infrastructure wasn’t there to land all the airplanes at once. (It’s) similar here. The infrastructure isn’t in place to have all the cruise ships in port.”
    The Canadian government announced port restrictions that could delay the Alaska cruise ship season until July 1.
    For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. But for the elderly and people with existing conditions, it can cause more severe illness. The vast majority of those who are infected recover.
    The city could take in between $1,700 to $2,800 daily per ship in docking fees. Additional costs depending on the needs of the ships could include drinking water and waste management.
    Each ship would likely operate at least one electric generator or engine for power while docked. The largest cost estimate for the city to provide power was $10 million, Corporon said.
    Additional port security would be required by under a U.S. Coast Guard plan, costing the city between $1,500 and $2,500 for personnel.
    The ships would not be subject to commercial passenger vessel fees or port development fees because there would be no passengers.



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-7-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:15 p.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Sunday: 19

Total statewide – 1,184

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 8 (3 resident; 5 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 12 (10 resident; 2 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 78.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.



Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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