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 20, 2020, Letters to the Editor

COVID-19 Response

Dear Editor: As a longtime Sitka resident, I continue to be amazed by the resiliency and determination of our close-knit community.

The preparation that is happening in advance of COVID-19 in our communities is strong. SEARHC continues to enact a comprehensive response plan. As SEARHC Chief Medical Officer, I maintain daily communication with the Alaska Department of Health and other state authorities, including the governor’s office and the state emergency operations center. We have established a unified command structure, in conjunction with the City and Borough of Sitka and EMS. This group meets regularly and has developed detailed plans for ramping up our community response to this crisis as it unfolds.

We have implemented up-to-date screening protocols consistent with State and CDC guidance at all entrance points into our facilities. We have implemented off-site testing and screening sites for the safety of patients and staff. The criteria for laboratory testing include fever, cough, and possible exposure to the virus, although these criteria are being broadened in some details as the pandemic progresses. We have supplies to test available in all of our communities and will continue to test all patients who meet the criteria. If you have any concern about yourself and you are ill, please contact us through our screening hot line for Sitka (907-966-8799) and we will be glad to assist you.

Routine optometry, dental care, patient travel, and elective surgeries are all temporarily suspended. Currently, primary care services remain available. The goal of these suspensions is to reduce the social contact and possible community spread of COVID-19. Our hospital and emergency room staff are trained and ready to care for all urgent and emergent medical problems 24 hours a day. We have been ramping up our plans, processes, and staff to respond to any surge in sick patients. Our nurse line is available to answer your questions 24 hours a day (1-800-613-0560).

We strongly encourage all people over the age of 60, and especially those with chronic illness, to not come into the clinic, and instead contact us by phone and we will arrange to meet your needs while you remain at home. We are committed to the health of our elders, and we are expanding access to this group via phone visits, FaceTime, telehealth, and home visits. Our goal is to provide a deeper level of care for this high-risk group during the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping them out of clinics to avoid any possible exposure.

The most important part of our response to this crisis is you. This is not a time for panic. It is a time to listen to and comply with our requests for your safety and health, as we face a real challenge. There has not been an equivalent health crisis in our country in living memory. Alaska and Sitka have the unique opportunity to minimize our own epidemic by greatly limiting our physical contact with others to prevent the spread of this virus. If you have traveled outside the state in the last 14 days, please physically isolate yourself from others and remain in your home for 14 days. If you become ill, do not go to work. If you are ill, stay home and isolate yourself from others and call our hotline: they will screen you for testing on the phone.

The healthcare system and city, and other partners, are doing everything they can to prepare for this pandemic. You are the most important part of the response. By being responsible and adopting safe behaviors such as hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and, most importantly, maintaining social distance (over 6 feet), we can avert disaster. I implore each and every one of you to practice these essential prevention strategies every day.

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, M.D., Sitka


Hoops Tourney

Dear Editor: Last weekend, March 12-15, Baranof Ballers “Sitka Shooter” fifth- and sixth-grade boys basketball team traveled to compete in the 2020 March Mania Tournament in Wasilla and the TruGame Academy’s Spring Break Hoops Classic tournament in Anchorage. 

We’d like to thank everyone who helped make this great trip possible for us. A big thank you to Baranof Ballers and Carmill Goldsberry for entering the team in the tournaments and providing these opportunities for the kids. Thank you to Carmill and Karen Case for organizing the team and for scorekeeping and Kristen Case for live-streaming the games for friends and family at home. Thank you also to these three ladies for taking good care of the boys off the court.

Thank you to the parents for supporting this team, it was a great basketball trip and we all appreciate the opportunity very much. Thank you to the businesses, relatives and friends who sponsored us and made it possible for these boys to compete in a different place at another level of play. 

The boys played 12 games going 9-3. In the March Mania Tournament, the team took second place in their age division and in the Spring Break Hoops Classic Tourney they claimed the championship! I am so proud of each one of the players on this team; they played hard, learned a lot and had fun!

With thanks and appreciation,

Coach Rich McAlpin

Baranof Ballers




Dear Editor: Some of you may have seen the ad my family worked on and ran in the paper last week. All the information is very relevant to our current situation. I urge you to please take those precautions serious. If not we will see exponential growth of this virus very soon in Sitka.

The risk you are putting yourself in of contracting the virus will not only impact you, but you can then in turn pass it on to more susceptible members of our community. Some prevention now and loss of some of our freedoms, that we hold so dear, is temporary but if you get a serious case or pass along the case to someone you know or love then you are putting your life and theirs in danger, and as I know all too well the loss of life is permanent.

True, not all will die from this virus, but others may develop lifelong complications that could significantly decrease their quality of life. I know it is spring break and kids are antsy, but is it worth someone’s life in this community to let your child play out with their friends? We have had to make the hard choice and told our kids they cannot play while all their peers are running around town. We have been home except for the grocery store and outside or car rides with the family and when out we are very cautious of our distance to others. No one in my household is experiencing any symptoms, but you don’t have to have symptoms to spread this virus.

An Italian mother has put out her warning’s online; DO keep your children at home, DON’T pay attention to what other parents are doing, DO let go of screen-time concerns, DO shop responsibly, DO make arrangements for your family (immediate that you live with) to be at home together, DON’T obsessively read COVID-19 updates.

Currently it feels like very few of us are taking this advice seriously, and a lot of other families are letting their children run free. If this behavior continues, we WILL be like Italy. Please take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your children. Your inaction is currently putting all our lives at risk. We all need to work together if we want to get through this with as little devastation as possible. Talk to any family or friends south and ask how life is? If we don’t do this now, that will be our life too.

Coral Crenna, Sitka



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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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