NEW TRAIL – Asa Dow wears a mask as he cuts a branch placed at the exit of the new 907 single-track mountain bike trail loop off the Sitka Cross Trail to officially open the trail Monday afternoon. Dow was one of about a dozen volunteers who built the trail, the first of its type in Sitka. The single-lane trail is exclusively for bikers and runs south to north. The Sitka Cycling Club, which organized the construction, will be building a second bicycle trail off the Cross Trail. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

SEARHC To Offer Drive Through Virus Test

Sentinel Staff Writer
    SEARHC* announced today that drive-through testing for the COVID-19 virus will be available starting noon Thursday – but don’t just drive up and expect to be tested, SEARHC officials said today.
    The first step is making a call to the SEARHC hotline 966-8799, or your primary care provider, for a referral to the drive-through, if testing is recommended.
    The off-site testing will be available noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday in a temporary facility in the parking lot of the Mountainside Family Clinic, at 209 Moller Avenue (next to the old Sitka Community Hospital).
    SEARHC said dozens of tests have been given throughout the Southeast Alaska area that it serves, but with no confirmed cases of the coronavirus detected.  SEARHC did not have a figure available for the number of tests given in Sitka to date.
    SEARHC also has testing sites in Wrangell, Juneau, Haines and Klawock, said SEARHC communications director Maegan Bosak.
    She said there are criteria for determining whether it’s appropriate to test for COVID-19. About 1,300 test kits are available with more coming in every day, she said.
    Those at home who want to be tested or believe they should be tested are asked to call 966-8799, and answer a series of questions in line with CDC protocol. Medical professionals will decide whether testing is warranted or whether self-isolation at home is appropriate, Bosak said.
    “You can stay in your car and limit exposure” during the test, which consists of taking samples with nasal swabs. Results generally take 48 to 72 hours.
Other COVID-19 News
    SEARHC today canceled routine dental procedures through April 1 at its dental clinic in the Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center, though dental emergencies will be treated.
    Medical authorities continued today to emphasize prevention by following CDC recommendations of frequent hand washing, staying home when sick, covering sneezes and coughs, not touching your face, wiping down and disinfecting surfaces, and self-isolating.
    The state issued two new COVID-19 mandates on Tuesday. (See related story, this page.)
    The number of confirmed cases in the state went from three on Monday to six on Tuesday. Two were in Anchorage, three in Fairbanks and one in Ketchikan, the state Department of Health and Social Services said on its COVID-19 webpage.
     “They are travel-associated cases of COVID-19, not cases of community-acquired infections,” the department said.
    In all, 406 tests have been negative in the state since Jan. 1, DHSS said.
    The covid19.searhc.org webpage has information and links to state and federal websites.
    *SEARHC is the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, a non-profit health consortium which provides healthcare services to residents in 19 communities in Southeast. In Sitka, SEARHC operates Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center, Mountainside Family Clinic, Mountainside Rehabilitation Clinic, Mountainside Urgent Care, and provides dental, eye and mental health services.


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 6-3-20)

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 11:10 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 18

Total statewide – 505

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 47, and the cumulative number of deaths is 10.

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 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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