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)

March 6, 2020, Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:
I am writing to you in my capacity as SEARHC’s Chief Medical Officer, as well as a long-time Sitka resident.
At SEARHC, we are closely monitoring COVID-19, formerly called the novel coronavirus. We are preparing our staff and facilities to ensure that our patients, communities and staff have the best, quality care possible. Presently, there are no known COVID-19 cases in Alaska.
I assure you that SEARHC has a comprehensive response plan. This includes working directly with our EMS squad and their leadership, as well as communicating regularly with our State Department of Health and state emergency operations center. We have established a unified command structure for emergency situations and have established careful protocols for screening and caring for patients in our facilities, in line with recommendations from scientists and doctors at the Centers for Disease Control. We have inventoried our supplies which are adequate if we are careful and judicious in use. We also recently established, a webpage with news and resources for you, our community members, as well as a “hot line” to provide answers to specific questions during regular business hours: 907-966-8799.
You can support the health of our community by staying calm and committing to healthy practices within your homes and businesses. Please remember that the most significant health threat we are facing at this time is influenza, which has already killed over 18,000 people in the U.S. this flu season. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, (if you are sick you should stay home). Cover your mouth and nose if you sneeze. Wash your hands with soap frequently, and especially before you eat. Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes because this is how we often contract a virus. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, and school.
If you begin to feel ill, and you don’t have any underlying health conditions, please don’t panic. Stay home and get better by resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and staying away from smoke or alcohol. Please do not come directly to the hospital and request or demand a test for COVID-19. In spite of what you may hear in the media, there are very limited supplies of tests available in Alaska (and elsewhere) and those tests will be used in high-risk cases. Everyone should also understand that a test is not a treatment or a cure for this virus.
If you begin to feel ill and you do have underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, cancer or lung disease, please call your provider’s office. By calling ahead to make an appointment before arriving, you will help our SEARHC staff take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed. When you call, make sure you tell the provider if you think you may have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.
More information on prevention and treatment of COVID-19 can be found at During regular business hours, questions can be answered at our COVID-19 “Hot Line” for SEARHC communities and patients: 907-988-8799.
Dr. Elliot Bruhl MD

Dear Editor:
At the Assembly meeting last Tuesday, it was so uplifting to see so much thoughtful discussion and engagement. I am grateful to everyone who took their time to share their experiences and knowledge and to the Assembly for their willingness to consider joining with AFN and the local Sitka Advisory Committee to the Alaska Dept of Fish & Game in declaring a climate emergency.
I have lived in Sitka my whole life and I plan to move back after college. In my 18-year lifetime, I have already seen the climate change more than I ever thought was possible, and I am dreading the future changes if we don’t take action. Although the resolution didn’t pass, the discussion was encouraging. Additionally, it did accomplish one of its goals: it got the conversation started.
We understand that this is a process that takes time, but it is also an issue that requires urgency.
Now, the group Youth for Sustainable Futures is working with Assembly members to draft a new resolution. This process has been such a valuable experience for our group and we’re so grateful to the Assembly members, especially Gary Paxton and Kevin Mosher, for their willingness to meet with youths, and for taking the time to explain their perspectives while also helping us find common ground and a path forward together.
After those conversations, our group and some Assembly members started discussing the possibility of reinstating a climate action leadership task force. This idea sounds really promising, especially if the task force includes youth. Youth for Sustainable Futures is made up of students from all three high schools, and we think it would be amazing if the task force included a seat for a representative from each of the high schools as well.
Even if the Assembly reinstates a task force, it is still important to pass the resolution declaring a climate change emergency. Local action is important, but state and national action is even more valuable. If the Assembly passes an emergency declaration, it gives our group leverage to lobby our senators for action.
We are looking forward to working with our community leaders to plan for our futures.
Cora Dow

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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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