GRAB AND GO - Library patron Tina Johnson, left, and Joanna Perensovich, information services librarian, wear masks in the Sitka Library this afternoon. The library no longer has couches for patrons, but does have computer desks widely spaced apart for people to access for one-hour periods. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

May 29, 2020, Letters to the Editor

Wear Face Masks

Dear Editor: We hear a lot about living in fear at this time of COVID19, especially in the context of mask wearing and social distancing. 

“Let your hearts not be troubled, nor let them be afraid.” As human beings, we have been blessed with memory, reason, and skill. COVID19 is transmitted primarily through respiratory droplets. The CDC advises that mask wearing protects those around us, and that social distancing protects us all.

It is only when I have done what I reasonably can to protect myself and my neighbors that I am confidently able to trust myself to divine providence. 

Caroline Crenna, Sitka


Grand Jury Service

Dear Editor: On behalf of the Alaska Court System, I extend our appreciation to the citizens of Sitka for your patience and consideration as we work through the challenges to our judicial system brought on by the current pandemic. Although the circumstances might not be ideal, jurors must serve so that justice can be done. We will begin with grand jury service. 

Grand jurors play an essential role in Alaska’s criminal process. Under Alaska’s Constitution, a prosecution for a felony offense can only go forward if the case is approved by the grand jury. It is the duty of grand jurors to compel persons charged with serious criminal conduct to answer for that conduct, if there are just grounds for the charge. At the same time, grand jurors have an obligation to ensure that no one is subject to criminal prosecution without good cause. Grand jurors are also authorized to investigate and make reports and recommendations concerning public safety. 

Two weeks ago, the court issued notice and summons to Sitkans with directions for grand juror attendance. The court will require staff and jurors to observe appropriate social distancing and wear cloth face coverings. If you don’t have a face covering, the court will have a sufficient supply for all jurors. Prior to entering the facility, you will be asked questions for health-related screening. 

In these times, a decision to honor the civic duty of jury service presents unique challenges. Meeting these challenges, Sitkans will draw upon the strengths that define our bold experiment in democracy: courage and open minds. 

I look forward to meeting you at your grand jury service on June 4. 

If you have any questions about jury service, please contact the Sitka Jury Clerk at 907-747-3291 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Jude Pate,

Superior Court Judge for Sitka


Salmon Lawsuit

Dear Editor: The Alaska Trollers Association is grateful to The Daily Sitka Sentinel for their May 27 story about our report to the Sitka Assembly on the Wild Fish Conservancy’s lawsuit. We would like to make a few comments.

ATA didn’t say that we were, “better situated to fight the lawsuit than the state.” In written comments ATA said, “ATA believes Alaskan interests are more knowledgeably represented by Alaskan fishermen than by a Federal agency. ATA (also) realizes that SEAK would be better represented by the Alaska Region of NMFS than by Pacific North West Region (Seattle based) NMFS.’’

The state may yet join the suit and ATA very much hopes that with its great expertise the state will do so. If the state joins they will be representing all Southeast Alaska’s Chinook fishermen historic harvest rights and will be helping to fend off any harmful to Alaska legal precedent that might arise from an adverse ruling by the court.

In written comments to the Assembly ATA pointed out that the claimed lack of available Chinook prey is not the cause of decline of the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) “L Pod.” At the same time as the Puget Sound’s L Pod population decrease other SRKW populations in the area have doubled and tripled. This fact points to other causes. Scientists believe those causes are pollution, excessive noise, injury from shipping, and habitat loss.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment.

Matt Donohoe, Sitka



Keeping Sitkans Safe

Dear Editor: As SEARHC vice president and chief medical officer, I’m proud of the work that Sitka has done to combat COVID-19. We have faced this pandemic together and limited Sitka’s confirmed cases to just two. These circumstances will be with us for some time. Our work is not over.

The essential work of opening of our economy is proceeding as it should, as a state of perpetual lockdown is not economically sustainable or medically justifiable. We now have resources to isolate and rapidly test those who are ill, and a hospital and clinic system that is geared up and prepared to care for any surge in cases. We are working with industries that are bringing in workers from outside of our community to test arrivals, prevent the introduction of new cases, and support mitigation efforts.

On the other hand, this is not the time for individuals to become lax in their personal behavior. For those who are elderly or medically susceptible, continued care to avoid groups, shopping, and events outside the home are prudent and recommended. The rest of us can all do our part to protect our elders and vulnerable residents by continuing to social distance (at least six feet), washing our hands frequently and cleaning surfaces, and wearing masks when social distancing is not possible, or in any group or indoor setting.

One national trend is the increasing problem of delayed essential care for serious medical problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. An understandable fear of COVID-19 has led patients to delay care of all types, even trips to the emergency room. I want you to understand that at SEARHC we are committed to making all clinical environments safe for patients. We are confident that we can continue to safely offer visits, tests, and procedures to you and your family. Safety measures in place include: 

• Phone screening all patients before their appointments for signs of COVID-19;

• Screening all patients and staff at the door;

• Modifying waiting areas to reflect physical distancing guidelines;

• Requiring universal face masking of patients and clinical staff;

• Enhancing disinfection of clinical areas;

• Testing all employees for COVID at least every two weeks.

We encourage patients not to delay care. Reach out to your clinic or provider today if you have the need for procedures or outpatient care, including mammography, colonoscopy, or chronic disease management. SEARHC will continue to cautiously reopen select service lines with increased safety measures and in compliance with State mandate.

The challenges of the pandemic will continue – even here in Southeast Alaska. Thank you for your adaptability in facing the changes made to keep our community safe. Please join me in continuing our personal effort to continue safe behaviors – distancing, hand washing, masking when appropriate – to protect our vulnerable friends and neighbors. Thank you to Sitka residents and business owners for continuing to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Dr. Elliot Bruhl, M.D., Sitka

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-10-20)

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 noon Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 51

Total statewide – 1,323

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 5 (2 resident; 3 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 13 (11 resident; 2 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 80.

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. 




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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