NEW ROUND – Sitka Fire Chief Craig Warren chats with Patrick and Catharine Weaver this afternoon at the fire hall during a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. The Weavers were waiting fifteen minutes after receiving the Moderna version of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 100 Sitkans were scheduled to receive their first dose today. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses for full efficacy. Sitkans can sign up to receive vaccinations at covid19.searhc.org. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

As Toll Rises, 3 States Ease Lockdowns

By RUSS BYNUM and
 
DAVID CRARY
 
The Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Even as the confirmed U.S. death toll from the coronavirus soared past 50,000, Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska began loosening lockdown orders today on their pandemic-wounded businesses, despite warnings from health experts that the gradual steps toward normalcy might be happening too soon. 

Republican governors in Georgia and Oklahoma allowed salons, spas and barbershops to reopen, while Alaska opened the way for restaurants to resume dine-in service and retail shops and other businesses to open their doors, all with limitations. Some Alaska municipalities chose to maintain stricter rules.

Though limited in scope, and subject to social-distancing restrictions, the reopenings marked a symbolic milestone in the debate raging in the United States – and the world -- as to how quickly political leaders should lift economically damaging lockdown orders. 

Similar scenarios have been playing worldwide and will soon proliferate in the U.S. as other governors wrestle with conflicting priorities. Their economies have been battered by weeks of quarantine-fueled job losses and soaring unemployment claims, yet health officials warn that lifting stay-at-home orders now could spark a resurgence of COVID-19.

The coronavirus has killed more than 190,000 people worldwide, including — as of Friday — more than 50,000 in the United States, according to a tally compiled by John Hopkins University from government figures. The actual death toll is believed to be far higher.

New cases are surging in Africa and Latin America as outbreaks subside in some places that were hit earlier. 

In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt authorized personal-care businesses to open, citing a decline in the number of people being hospitalized for COVID-19. Those businesses were directed to maintain social distancing, require masks and frequently sanitize equipment. 

Still, some of the state’s largest cities, including Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, were opting to keep their bans in place until at least the end of April.

Amy Pembrook and her husband, Mike, reopened their hair salon in the northwest Oklahoma town of Fairview after it had been shuttered for about a month.

“We’re super excited about going back, but we have caught a little flack from people who say it’s too early,” Amy Pembrook said. “We just said we can live in fear for a long time or we can trust that everything is going to be OK.”

With deaths and infections still rising in Georgia, many business owners planned to stay closed despite Gov. Brian Kemp’s assurance that hospital visits and new cases have leveled off enough for barbers, tattoo artists, massage therapists and personal trainers to return to work with restrictions.

Kemp’s timeline to restart the economy proved too ambitious even for President Donald Trump, who said he disagrees with the fellow Republican’s plan.

On Friday, Trump signed a $484 billion bill to aid employers and hospitals under stress from the pandemic — the latest federal effort to help keep afloat businesses that have had to close or scale down. Over the past five weeks, roughly 26 million people have filed for jobless aid, or about 1 in 6 U.S. workers.

Without a tried-and-tested action plan for how to pull countries out of coronavirus lockdown, the world is seeing a patchwork of approaches. Schools reopen in one country, stay closed in others; face masks are mandatory in some places, a recommendation elsewhere. 

Kids still attend soccer practice in Sweden while they are not even allowed outside in Spain. As governments and scientists fumble around, still struggling with so many unknowns, individuals are being left to take potentially life-affecting decisions.

In Georgia, David Huynh had 60 clients booked for appointments at his nail salon in Savannah, but a clothing store, jewelry shop and chocolatier that share a street corner with his downtown business, Envy Nail Bar, remained closed.

“The phone’s been staying ringing off the hook,” Huynh said. “We’ve probably gotten hundreds of calls in the last hour.”

Four women clutching face masks were waiting outside when the salon opened for the first time since March 26.

“Yes, I am ready to get my nails fixed,” said Alina Davis, a police officer for the local school system, who kept working throughout the crisis.

Meanwhile, Nikki Thomas is overdue for a visit to her hair stylist, but she’s barely ventured outside her house in the six weeks since she’s been working from home. She had no plans to change that now just because of Kemp’s decision.

“It’s obviously extremely stupid and I’m simultaneously exhausted and so angry I can barely see straight,” Thomas, 40, said in a phone interview.

The gradual reopenings come as coronavirus testing continues to lag across the United States. To date, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project, just under 4.7 million people have been tested in the country of 330 million people. 

A lack of tests and supplies has hampered the U.S. effort from the beginning. About 193,000 people were tested on Thursday. That’s an increase from the two-week daily average of 163,000, but far less than what public health experts estimate is needed to get a handle on the virus. 

Researchers at Harvard have estimated a minimum of 500,000 daily tests are needed, and possibly much more, in order to safely reopen the economy. 

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lengthened her stay-at-home order through May 15, while lifting restrictions so some businesses can reopen and the public can participate in outdoor activities like golf and motorized boating during the coronavirus pandemic.

Michigan has nearly 3,000 deaths related to COVID-19, behind only New York and New Jersey among U.S. states.

New York reported its lowest number of daily COVID-19 deaths in weeks on Friday. The state recorded 422 deaths as of the day before — the fewest since March 31, when it recorded 391 deaths. More than 16,000 people have died in the state from the outbreak.

In Denver, Mayor Michael Hancock extended the city’s stay-at-home order and non-essential business closures through May 8 just as Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a fellow Democrat, prepared to relax some statewide restrictions next week.

Health officials in Colorado ordered the immediate closure of a Walmart in Aurora, a Denver suburb, after three people connected to the store died after being infected with the coronavirus and at least six employees tested positive.

In France, the government is leaving families to decide whether to keep children at home or send them back to class when the nationwide lockdown, in place since March 17, starts to be eased May 11. 

In Spain, parents face a similarly knotty decision: whether to let kids get their first fresh air in weeks when the country starts Sunday to ease the total ban on letting them outside. 

The slowing of Spain’s horrific outbreak, which has killed more than 22,500 people, made the prospect of letting kids out feasible. For the first time Friday, Spanish health authorities counted more people recovering from the disease in a 24-hour span than new infections. 

 

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

Login Form

______________________

 

Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 1-15-21)

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 10:55 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 296

Total statewide – 49,835

Total (cumulative) deaths – 228

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,126

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

The City of Sitka posted the following update on COVID-19 cases in Sitka as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

Active cases in Sitka – 17

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 301 (274 resident; 27 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 281

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.

______________________

 

 

20 YEARS AGO
January 2001

Photo caption: Sarah and Jeremy Pickard and Dr. James Brooks show off Lauren Marie Pickard, the first baby born in Sitka this year. She arrived at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital at 10:05 a.m., Jan. 4, weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces and measuring 20 inches. She’s the first child for the Pickards,who moved here in May with the U.S. Coast Guard.

50 YEARS AGO
January 1971

Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Foster and daughter Marchele have ended a two-week vacation trip to Idaho. They bought a new Mustang in Seattle, drove it to Sandpoint, Idaho, to visit relatives and stopped in Everett, Wash., to visit Mrs. Foster’s cousin, whom she hadn’t seen in 13 years. Mrs. Foster and Marchele returned by plane and Foster is following with the car, on the ferry.

________________________

 

Facebook

calendar