HISTORIC MOVE – Harry Greene, maintenance and operations superintendent at the Sitka Public Works Department, uses a backhoe to lift the Baranof statue onto a wooden dolly with the help of co-worker Mike Callahan, this morning in front of Harrigan Centennial Hall. The bronze statue, estimated to weigh between 400 and 600 pounds, was relocated to inside the Sitka History Museum today. The city Assembly passed a resolution, on a 6-1 vote, in July to move the statue from its prominent  outdoor location to inside the museum.  At the July meeting several members of the public said the statue was a symbol of “historical trauma.”  The statue, created by artist Joan Bugbee Jackson, was given to the city in 1989 by Lloyd and Barbara Hames. Hames family members said earlier this year they supported moving the statue into the museum. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Gov Says Alaska Open for Business

By BECKY BOHRER and
 
MARK THIESSEN
 
The Associated Press

JUNEAU (AP) — Starting Friday, businesses in Alaska that were shut down or restricted due to coronavirus concerns can fully reopen, a significant step that Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy says the state can handle as it moves into a “management stage” of the virus.

There were mixed responses Wednesday. Some who saw reaction to the virus as overblown are eager to move on. Some plan to move cautiously. And some hope to get as close to normal as possible while continuing use of safeguards, such as employee masks and sanitizing practices. 

Terry Pennington, manager and waitress at Rose’s Cafe in Healy, near Denali National Park and Preserve, said Dunleavy’s announcement was the talk of the small diner Wednesday. “Everybody we’ve talked to are ready, they’re past ready,” she said.

The state has reported just over 400 cases of COVID-19 with 10 deaths. Dunleavy on Tuesday cited consistently low numbers and said restrictions bought time to build up health care capacity. 

“The people of Alaska have given us that time. It’s come with great sacrifice,” Dunleavy said. “And so we believe we can manage this virus. We have to manage this virus.” 

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

State officials began easing business restrictions April 24, allowing retail shops and salons to reopen and dine-in restaurant service to resume, all with limited capacity. Limits were loosened two weeks later, and additional businesses, such as gyms and theaters, were allowed to open at 25% capacity. 

Starting Friday, Dunleavy’s office said businesses will be allowed to open at 100% capacity. The state continues urging people to take steps such as staying at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) from non-family members, frequently washing their hands and wearing masks in public areas where maintaining distance is difficult.

“What we’re hoping is if we do this the right way, change some of our habits a little bit in response to this virus, I think we’re going to continue to see our numbers do really well,” Dunleavy said. 

A presentation from the administration said the success of remaining open “now lies fully in the hands of Alaskans.”

Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, an Anchorage Democrat, said Alaska has fared well compared to some other states with small populations, crediting actions taken early by the Dunleavy administration.

“And yet we have now had a full reopening declared by the governor without fully understanding what the implications of that reopening will be,” Begich said. This is a time to “exercise thoughtful, prudent, safe practices that do not lead to an exponential growth in this disease,” he said.

Steve Lewis, owner and general manager of The Gym in Juneau, expects to continue limiting the number of people inside his facility, maintaining 12-foot (3.6 meter) distancing and adhering to enhanced cleaning protocols. 

Lewis said it makes sense to maintain those standards “because people aren’t going to come into the gym if they don’t feel they’re going to be safe.” Masks also are required, he said. 

Venietia Santana, who owns V’s Cellar Door, said her restaurant in Juneau has adjusted, including creating a curbside system when dine-in service was shut down. 

She expects to resume operating as close to normal as possible “but we’re doing things a little differently,” including additional cleaning, having staff wear masks and gloves and asking customers their comfort level in where they are seated and if they want people at a table next to them.

“I think that when people are comfortable is when they’ll come out, no matter what the governor says,” Santana said. “We just want them to feel the most comfort that they can.”

People coming into Alaska have been asked to observe a 14-day quarantine, which will be re-evaluated by June 2, state officials said. 

Nome City Manager Glenn Steckman said residents in his community are concerned about people coming in from outside the region. The city has 14-day quarantine or testing protocols for people traveling into Nome, he said. The area was hit hard by the flu pandemic of 1918 and 1919.

“There are long memories of a pandemic, and obviously some people are very cautious on how they’re reopening,” he said.

___

Thiessen contributed from Anchorage, Alaska.

 

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

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 9-29-20)

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 12:20 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 118

Total statewide – 7,721

Total (cumulative) deaths – 56

Active cases in Sitka – 19 (13 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 47 (37 resident; 10 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 288.

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

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 

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20 YEARS AGO
September 2000

Gilnettings, By Gil Truitt: The Sitka All-Star Team (Team II) of 1939-1956 is revealed here for the first time.  Fermin “Rocky” Gutierrez, Hugh Pace, “Red” Belinski, Harold “Pretty Boy” Morris, George Kucherak, Dorm McGraw Sr., Herb Didrickson Sr., Gorman Shutt, Vic Adamson, Bill Robinson  and Johnny Vander. ... Other gifted players include Tony Herman, Bunny Donnelly, Hal Taylor, Archie Nielsen, Cecil McClain and Richard (Dick) Eliason.

50 YEARS AGO
September 1970

The Alaska Judicial council has selected Sitka as the site of a new branch of the state superior court. The Legislature had created a position for a third Superior Court judge in Southeast, but the city was not specified in the legislation.

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