EXPECT DELAYS – Lines of traffic move slowly down Sawmill Creek Road today as a repaving project progresses near the Indian River bridge. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

City Takes Cautious Steps in Reopening

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer

The city’s “hunker down” resolution has expired and the quarantine ordinance for travelers to Sitka was rescinded Tuesday, but many precautions are still being advised to prevent and slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The Assembly Tuesday rescinded Emergency Ordinance No. 2020-14 on self-quarantine of arriving travelers, on the grounds that it was a duplicate of a state mandate set to expire or change next week. Tuesday also was the expiration date for Resolutions 2020-06 and 2020-08, the shelter-in-place regulations Sitkans had been following.

“These changes result in the reopening of many businesses and group gatherings,” said a news release from the city’s “unified command” coronavirus task force. 

“For both employers and employees, there may be uncertainty and anxiety around reopening a business,” the announcement said. “Having plans in place can help to alleviate concerns. Public health officials are available to provide guidance to businesses on reopening.”

The Sitka “hunker down” ordinance was in effect for 45 days, city administrator John Leach noted in an interview today. 

“The state is looking at data, and we’ve looked at our local numbers, it seems reasonable to have a cautious, measured approach to reopening,” he said.

But at the same time, he said, Sitkans should “continue to be good neighbors.”

“In the same way we’ve lined up with the state in a measured reopening, I strongly urge citizens to follow state guidelines,” Leach said.

Public Health Nurse Denise Ewing said she is available to provide guidance to businesses that are reopening, with respect to the state mandates in place.

“They can ask questions, they can share their plans,” Ewing said today. 

Signage, capacity, air circulation, face masks, cleaning and disinfecting, and social distancing, are among the considerations she reviews with businesses. She is also answering questions from individuals.

Ewing said some are anxious about reopening, and want to do so responsibly.

“They don’t want to be the first (case), they don’t want their company associated with COVID and they are wanting to do the best they can,” she said. “They’re concerned for both the clients and themselves, they want to protect themselves, and the customers need to feel safe.”

Ewing said she is happy to brainstorm on ideas and solutions with those who call. She is also available for questions on quarantining and testing capabilities. She added that many companies are asking those questions, “because the mandates keep changing and so does the testing availability.”

“It gets confusing with all the mandates, and the subsections of the mandates,” Ewing said. She is available weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 747-3255.

Today’s unified command advisory recommends that residents “adhere to all state and federal mandates regarding travel, social distancing of 6 feet from others, and good hygiene – wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face, remain at home when sick, wear face coverings when in public, and clean and disinfect objects and surfaces on a regular basis.”

City Hall and other municipal buildings have been reopened, but with special sanitizing procedures in effect. Plexiglas barriers have been put up in some places, and appointments are required as some offices.

“This is to ensure compliance with all Federal (including OSHA), state, and local regulations,” the advisory said. “When entering municipal buildings, customers are asked to follow posted social distancing guidelines and are encouraged to wear a face covering.”

Information on hours of operation for each city department is available at www.cityofsitka.com, or by calling 747-1818.

Previously closed SEARHC facilities are open, with protocols to ensure patient safety, such as; pre-screening patients by phone, making waiting areas social distance friendly, enhancing on-site disinfection, requiring face masking of all patients and staff, and testing all SEARHC employees, the news release said.

SEARHC’s COVID hotline is available to answer questions and respond to health concerns, at 966-8799 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Outside of normal clinic hours, patients can contact the SEARHC 24/7 Nurse Advice Line at 1 (800) 613-0560 to be triaged by a registered nurse, the news release said.

Links provided for COVID info are:

https://covid19.alaska.gov/.

www.covid19.searhc.org, and 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

 

 

 

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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 8-6-20)

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 10:45 a.m. Thursday.

New cases as of Wednesday: 40

Total statewide – 3,484

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 19 (14 resident; 5 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 141.

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
August 2000

The city’s solid waste incinerator closed Wednesday, two days after the contract with Sheldon Jackson College for its operation ended. ... The city will ship all municipal waste except biosolids off-island to a landfill in Washington. The biosolids will be buried in the Kimsham landfill, Public Works Director Hugh Bevan said.

50 YEARS AGO
August 1970

Ernest Robertson, a Sitka resident most of his life, has moved back here with his family after a five-year sojourn in Anchorage. “Anchorage was just too big,” Ernie said. “It wasn’t like Sitka, where every time you go out on the street you meet your friends.”

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