ON THE ROAD AGAIN – One of The RIDE buses goes down Katlian Street past the city boat grid this morning. After four months of being shut down because of antivirus precautions, the public transportation service resumed operations today. All routes remain the same except the Blue Line bus route, which now turns around at Whale Park instead of the Gary Paxton Industrial Park. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

6 More of Ferry’s Crew Test Positive for COVID

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Six more crew members aboard a state ferry have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Tuesday.

This brings the total number of employees on the state ferry Tustumena to seven who have tested positive for COVID-19. All will quarantine on the ferry. 

The Tustumena returned to Homer Monday after a crew member tested positive Saturday in Dutch Harbor. Upon the vessel’s arrival, 40 people were tested, 34 employees and six passengers. 

All passengers and some crew members who tested negative were allowed to leave the ship if they could self-monitor and quarantine for 14 days.

Some crew members will stay aboard to help support the ship, officials said. They will be separated from the seven individuals who tested positive.

The ferry will be sanitized, and resume operations on June 27.

State health officials reported the state’s first death from COVID-19 in over a month, bringing the total number of deaths to 11. A resident at the Providence Transitional Care Center in Anchorage tested positive and was hospitalized before dying Sunday, hospital spokesman Mike Canfield said.

Eleven new cases were reported Tuesday, bringing the number of Alaskans to have had the coronavirus to 573. That number includes 389 people who have recovered. 

Alaska to Use Lottery For Rent, Mortgage Payments

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Payments of up to $1,200 will soon become available to Alaska residents struggling to make rent and mortgage payments because of income losses related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The one-time payments distributed by lottery are an effort to prevent homelessness in the state, The Anchorage Daily News reported  Monday.

The money will come from $10 million in federal coronavirus relief funds administered by the Alaska Housing Finance Corp.

The state agency expects the program to serve between 8,000 and 12,000 households.

Each household is eligible for no more than $1,200 and must complete a simple questionnaire that includes name, address and certification of income loss.

Households must have lost income due to COVID-19 and earn less than 80% of median income for their community to be eligible, the agency said.

In Anchorage that figure would be less than about $78,000 per household.

The application period opens June 15 and closes June 26. The lottery results will be announced one week later.

Payments will be made directly to landlords or mortgage lenders and are targeted for the July 2020 billing cycle.

Alaska Housing Finance Corp. recently received nearly 970 applications for mortgage loan forbearance, meaning a temporary halt for payment obligations, said Stacy Barnes, director of government relations and public affairs.

About 1,100 Anchorage residents and just over 2,000 people statewide are considered homeless under a definition by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The actual number is thought to be many thousands higher and expected to increase because of the coronavirus, service providers said.

For most people, the 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. The vast majority of people recover.

Alaska Justices Commit To Just System for All

ANCHORAGE (AP) — The justices of the Alaska Supreme Court have called for improvements within the judicial system to ensure equitable and fair treatment for people of color.

The four justices posted a letter online Friday saying there needs to be systematic improvements for African Americans, Alaska Natives and other groups.

The letter is addressed to “Fellow Alaskans” and signed by Chief Justice Joel Bolger and Justices Daniel Winfree, Peter Maassen and Susan Carney. Justice Craig Stowers retired June 1, and his seat has not yet been filled.

The justices referred to the ongoing social unrest sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. Floyd, 46, a black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground. His death prompted protests across the U.S. and around the world against police brutality and racial injustice. 

“As we watch events unfolding in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, we are saddened to see again that the ideals on which our society is founded are far from the reality of many people’s lives,” the letter said.

The justices said they must “provide an accessible and impartial forum” for cases.

“We recognize that too often African-Americans, Alaska Natives, and other people of color are not treated with the same dignity and respect as white members of our communities,” the justices wrote. “And we recognize that as community members, lawyers, and especially as judicial officers, we must do more to change this reality.”

They wrote that there needs to be a continued effort to make the court system “reflect the community that we serve.”

The justices said they would continue to work with the court’s advisory Fairness and Access Commission and outreach programs such as The Color of Justice.

“We commit ourselves and the court system to seek always to ensure equal justice under the law,” the justices wrote. “As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently stated long ago, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ “

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-13-20)

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 10:30 a.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 60

Total statewide – 1,539

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 4 (2 resident; 2 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 14 (11 resident; 3 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 87.

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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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

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

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 sitkasentinel.com. 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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