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)

State to Allow Limited Opening of Business

By BECKY BOHRER
The Associated Press

JUNEAU (AP) — Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration announced plans to begin allowing this week the limited reopening of restaurants, retail stores and other businesses that were shut down amid coronavirus concerns.

Starting Friday, restaurants, retail outlets, hair and nail salons and businesses that fell under the category of nonessential will be allowed to reopen, with limited services. Bars, theaters, bowling alleys and bingo halls will not be allowed to reopen yet, the state’s health commissioner, Adam Crum, said Tuesday.

Under the plan, restaurants, which have been allowed to do take-out and deliveries, will be able to resume dine-in service. But restaurants will be limited to 25% capacity inside, with 10 feet between tables and only household members allowed at a table, Crum said. Limits also will be placed on outdoor seating. Crum said the state will continue to encourage takeout options.

According to a presentation by Crum, there also will be capacity limits at retail stores and businesses such as hair and nail salons and tattoo shops. Personal care services, for example, will be appointment only with no waiting areas, Crum said. 

Gyms will be allowed to do outdoor training with groups of less than 20. Crum said there will be screening of staff and participants to make sure no one is sick and spacing of 10 feet between people.

Plans outlined Tuesday also include use of face coverings and hand-washing and sanitation criteria. Further details were expected Wednesday, Crum said.

State officials said a mandate calling for people arriving in Alaska to self-quarantine for 14 days is being extended to May 19. A mandate seeking to limit travel within the state was extended until further notice, according to the administration.

Alaska has reported 329 cases of COVID-19, which includes 168 recovered cases, and nine deaths. Dunleavy said the state continues to ramp up its testing and that a large shipment of personal protective gear is expected soon, which he said will help as the state begins reopening.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death

“For those that have been chomping at the bit to get things open and moving, we’re heading there,” Dunleavy said. “For those that are still very concerned, and rightfully so, we can assure you that we are going to continue to use the best practices” and use data in decision-making.

Citigroup Latest to End Arctic Oil Investment

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Citigroup Inc. has become the latest major bank to pledge that it will not invest in oil and gas projects in the Arctic.

The company revealed the policy in its environmental and social policy framework for 2020, The Anchorage Daily News reported  Monday.

“Citi has not previously provided and will not provide project-related financing for oil and gas exploration and production in the Arctic Circle,” the bank said.

BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, urged companies in January to emphasize steps they are taking to combat global warming.

Citigroup joins Wells Fargo & Co., The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Swiss bank UBS in avoiding Arctic petroleum investments.

Citigroup’s announcement came as the oil industry is being damaged by rapidly falling oil prices and as Alaska companies reduce spending to handle the revenue decline.

Some oil industry professionals in Alaska expressed concern that reduced financial support for Arctic drilling could threaten future projects, particularly for small oil companies with limited assets and options for generating cash.

Oil prices fell again Tuesday. The cost for a barrel of U.S. oil to be delivered in June plunged 43% to $11.57.

The price drop is related to the decrease in people flying and driving during shutdowns and the shuttering of factories amid widespread stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Global oil demand is set to drop to levels last seen in the mid-1990s. 

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.

Dunleavy to Give Details Of Reopening Economy

By BECKY BOHRER
 
The Associated Press

JUNEAU (AP) — Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Alaskans soon could be making appointments at barbershops and nail salons again, as the state looks to further reopen parts of the economy shut down or restricted over coronavirus concerns.

Dunleavy on Monday said details are expected this week. Other areas he said were being looked at include restaurants and retail shops, businesses he said employ many people and could put in place safety protocols while meeting demand for services. 

He said Alaskans will be asked to continue washing their hands, cleaning surfaces, maintaining social distance and wearing masks, particularly when shopping. 

The state feels pretty good about its numbers and its health care capacity, equipment and ability to track cases, he said. The state has reported at least 321 cases of COVID-19, with 161 of those cases recovered and nine deaths.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

State officials previously announced they would begin lifting restrictions on certain health care activities. The first piece of that took effect Monday. Provisions related to elective surgeries take effect May 4.

Around the country, state and local leaders have faced calls to reopen the economy. A demonstration-by-vehicle is planned for Anchorage Wednesday to let Dunleavy, a Republican, and Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, a Democrat, know “we are ready to open the economy,” according to a social media post for the event.

Berkowitz said people are free to speak their minds. But he said he sees a larger demonstration, of those hunkering down.

“I think that demonstration is vastly larger and represents a much more significant percentage of the public,” he said.

Berkowitz released a multi-phased approach for reopening Alaska’s largest city. It calls for criteria, such as widespread testing capacity and a downward trend in case counts for 14 days, to be met to move from the current, hunker-down phase. 

He said the plan wouldn’t be driven by hard dates but by data. 

He said the plan the state is working on is slightly different but that the principles are the same. Berkowitz said the city has been working in conjunction with the state. 

Dunleavy last week said he agreed to a large extent with those who felt the restrictions were infringing upon their personal freedoms. But he said the state acted to prevent the kinds of outbreaks seen in other places. 

______________________

 

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

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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