ALL IN THE SAME TACO BOAT – Sitkans, many wearing face masks, line up this afternoon at the Sitka Elks Lodge food booth. With the pandemic, most of this year’s Sitka Independence Day events have been modified, but not entirely canceled. The American Legion and Sizzling Chow Cuisine also will have outdoor food booths. While there’s no downtown parade, there is a parade of classic cars that will tour Sitka streets beginning at 1 p.m. at Whale Park. A sing-along and military salute will take place on Totem Square 7 p.m. Friday and a fireworks display will take place 11:30 Friday night over Sitka Channel, with spectators asked to follow social distancing recommendations. The Rotary Club is holding its annual Duck Race on the fourth. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Positive Test Leads To Contact Tracing

Sentinel Staff Writer

Contact tracing and subsequent testing have resulted in no other positive COVID-19 cases in Sitka since the one reported Monday, the public health nurse reported today.

“Every day there’s been contact tracing and involvement with this case,” Public Health Nurse Denise Ewing said.

Ewing, along with Juneau’s public health nurse, has been working on contact tracing since Sitka’s second positive test was reported Monday.

The person with the positive test – a woman in the 30- to 39-year-old age group – continues to be asymptomatic, Ewing said. She had gone to the Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center emergency room in the middle of last week and was tested for COVID-19 as part of SEARHC’s COVID testing protocol.

Ewing said everyone contacted during tracing has been cooperative. 

“Contact tracing has not been easy in this case,” she said. “There have been several contacts, but everyone has been very receptive and been working well with public health. They’ve been really great to work with. Many calls have been made and continue to be made. ... As with many cases, it’s been busy.”

Contact tracing involves finding and talking to those who’ve been near the person who tested positive for longer than 15 minutes within the last two weeks. Those tested are asked to self-quarantine until their test results come back negative - and sometimes longer.

Ewing noted the difficult position of the person who has tested positive, and the stress and guilt they feel.

“It’s the burden of feeling you’ve done something wrong,” Ewing said. “No one has done anything wrong, but they feel guilty and carry that with them.”

Ewing is part of a team of health officials who conduct contact tracing statewide. She urged compassion from members of the public.

“It’s a heavy weight - they don’t want to get their family sick, they don’t want to be ostracized,” Ewing said. “I hope someone comes forward to talk about what it’s like ... compassion is important.”

The Sitka Public Health Center and health centers across the state have gotten calls asserting the pandemic is a “hoax,” which is not helpful, given the seriousness of the virus, Ewing said.

“When you work on the health side, it’s a serious pandemic that takes life,” she said. “It’s not political to us. It’s not a hoax when you see people suffering and dying.”

She stressed the continuation of precautions, in particular social distancing, to prevent and slow the spread of COVID.

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-2-20)

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 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Monday: 39

Total statewide – 1,017

Total (cumulative) deaths – 14

Active cases in Sitka – 8 (6 resident; 2 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 10 (7 resident; 3 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 68.

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 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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