May 29, 2020, Letters to the Editor

Category: Letters to the Editor
Created on Friday, 29 May 2020 16:09
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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