2020 TOURIST SEASON – The 285-foot super yacht Lonian is tied up at the Old Sitka Dock Friday while its support vessel, the 217-foot Hoder equipped with a helicopter and ROV, is seen anchored in the distance. The 14-passender Lonian, which was launched in 2019, is owned by billionaire Lorenzo Fertitta, former owner of UFC. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

July 24, 2020, Letters to the Editor

COVID-19 Precautions

Dear Editor: This is to all Alaskans.

Alaska’s more than 65 hospitals and nursing homes share a common mission: to provide quality health care to Alaskans whenever they need it. During “normal” times, our ability to live up to this mission is never in doubt. But these are anything but normal times. As health care leaders from across Alaska, we are alarmed at the recent increase in COVID-19 cases and concerned about the threat posed to our entire health system unless we reverse this trend and once again flatten the curve.

Alaskans succeeded at minimizing and flattening the initial curve in Alaska.  Unfortunately, today is a new day, and we find ourselves at a crossroads.   We now have more active cases then ever – nearly twenty-five times the number of cases than when we started to reopen communities in May.  There is only one way to change this.

We urge individual Alaskans to act – and act now – to help avoid the kinds of public health disasters now occurring in other parts of the nation.  Please wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, keep your bubbles small, and avoid unsafe activities like large gatherings.

Our system indicators tell us that at this moment, Alaska’s hospital capacity is manageable and ready to absorb increases.  We have surge plans in place, ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.  But COVID-19 is a numbers game that is more difficult to beat the longer you play. More cases ultimately lead to more hospitalizations, more deaths, and higher risk to our most vulnerable in nursing homes and in our communities.   

While some may not be concerned about getting sick themselves, they may unknowingly be a carrier and risk infecting others as they go about their daily lives, even when gathering with friends and family. Wearing masks and following CDC guidelines is essential if we want to make it through this pandemic without devastation. The sooner we all do this, the sooner we can move past this public health crisis and begin to fully recover as a society.

Collectively, we employ more than 10,000 healthcare workers at our hospitals and nursing homes. They are skilled, dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to heal and save lives. They are Alaska’s health care heroes – the ones you can count on when you need them. Now, they need you to do your part to protect them and their ability to care for us all.

The only way to beat this pandemic is to do it together, as Alaskans.

Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association:

Alaska Native Medical Center, Robert Onders, MD, JD, MPA, Acting Administrator; Alaska Regional Hospital, Julie Taylor, CEO; Alaska State Hospital & Nursing Home Association, Jared C. Kosin, CEO; Bartlett Regional Hospital, Charles Bill, CEO; Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation, Robert J. Clark, President I CEO; Central Peninsula Hospital, Rick Davis, CEO; Cordova Community Medical Center, Hannah Sanders, MD, CEO;  Foundation Health Partners, Shelley Ebenal, CEO;  Heritage Place Continuing Care, Sandi Crawford, Administrator;  Maniilaq Association, Sharon Kurz, PhD, Vice President Health Services; Maniilaq Association, Tim Gilbert, President I CEO;  Maple Springs Palmer, Jesse Christensen, Administrator; Maple Springs Wasilla, Nathan Dahl, Administrator; Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, Dave Wallace, CEO; New Horizons Long-Term Care, Hill Pettis, Administrator; North Star Behavioral Health System, Jim Lynch, CEO; Norton Sound Health Corporation, Angie Gorn, CEO; PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center, Dori Stevens, CEO; Petersburg Medical Center, Phil Hofstetter, CEO; Providence Alaska Medical Center, Ella Goss, CEO; Providence Health & Services Alaska, Preston Simmons, CEO; Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center, Don Hanna, CEO; Providence Seward Medical & Care Center, Robert Rang, CEO; Providence Transitional Care Center, Angela Lewis, Administrator; Providence Valdez Medical Center, Jeremy O’Neil, CEO; Quyanna Care Center, Angela Koehler, DON; SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center, Heidi Aylsworth, CEO; SEARHC Sitka Long-Term Care, Kay Turner, Administrator;  SEARHC Wrangell Medical Center, Leatha Merculieff, CEO; South Peninsula Hospital, Ryan Smith, CEO; South Peninsula Hospital Long Term Care, Barbara Bigelow, LNHA, Administrator; St. Elias Specialty Hospital, Jessica Oswald, CEO; Wildflower Court, Ruth Johnson, Administrator; Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, Dan Winkelman, President I CEO

 

 

COMMENTARY:

Congress Plans Action

Now On Climate Future

By Kate Guiney

and Hannah Reynolds

Youth for Sustainable Futures

With the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. hitting a record high, it is becoming more and more evident that when we are not adequately prepared to deal with crises, thousands of lives are needlessly lost. Without strong leadership and resilient institutions in place to run our country during these strenuous times, lives are at stake. There is no reason to suspect that the climate crisis is any different from the coronavirus in this respect. The only difference?

The coronavirus pandemic overwhelmed our country in the matter of weeks, while we’ve had decades to prepare for climate change.

Earlier this month, the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis released a climate action report, titled “Solving the Climate Crisis: A Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America.” The report offers recommendations that “will set the country on a path to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050” and “net-zero carbon dioxide emissions before 2050” (p. 27). The plan would “create roughly 530,000 jobs annually,” as well (p. 28). The Climate Crisis Action Plan also “would generate significant health benefits, avoiding an estimated 62,000 premature deaths annually by 2050” (p. 28). To put things in perspective, the United States has lost over 125 thousand people to the coronavirus, and almost half that many preventable deaths occur each year as a result of low air quality and adverse climate impacts. With all the measures taken to prevent deaths from the pandemic, why wouldn’t we take the steps needed to save tens of thousands of lives when they’re connected to climate change?

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis was started in January of 2019 and was instructed to create a set of public policy recommendations for congressional climate action.

The committee consists of experts in environmental justice, coastal flooding, clean energy, and other crucial aspects of addressing the climate crisis and is chaired by Kathy Castor of Florida’s 14th District. Over the past year, hearings and business meetings on climate change and promoting resiliency were held by the committee to support their research informing the action plan.

This is the first time that Congress has proposed such comprehensive and actionable climate solutions. In the past, climate action resolutions like the Green New Deal have received criticism for being vague and inexplicit, but today’s proposal is over 500 pages long and is undoubtedly specific. The Climate Crisis Action Plan calls upon Congress to protect America’s land and waters for future generations, build the climate resiliency of communities, farmers, and fishermen, protect the health of American people, and to rebuild our economy and workforce upon clean energy.

One example of the plan’s specificity is its discussion of the Tongass National Forest and the importance of our mature, old growth forests. The committee writes, “Mature and old growth

forests and trees, like those found within the Tongass, store and sequester large amounts of carbon, making them more effective at combating climate change than other types of forests…

The Tongass, America’s largest national forest and the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, stores more than 650 million tons of carbon – about 8% of all carbon stored in U.S.

national forests.”

The committee recommends that Congress codify the Roadless Rule to protect mature old-growth forests like the Tongass, which are at risk of deforestation under the current administration. The Forest Service is currently in the process of enacting a full exemption of the Roadless Rule in the Tongass, to open 9 million acres of the forest to logging and roadbuilding.

Youth for Sustainable Futures is a group concerned with the unwillingness for long-term planning in local, state, and federal government. As young people who have been closely watching the actions of our elected officials regarding environmental justice and the Tongass, we recognize that the work done by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis is a huge step forward with respect to many of the climate related issues we are facing. We are working with young people across the country who share our concerns around climate change, and who recognize the importance of the Tongass in mitigating climate change. Young people like us have been asking leaders to listen to our concerns and to take action, and we are grateful to the members of the Committee for finally doing just that. We know that not everything in this report is realistic, and the work is far from over with its release. Because of this, we urge all the Committee members to continue fighting for the proposals they have laid out, and demand action from those in Congress who have stayed silent on many of these issues in the past.

Many of the people who will be most affected by the decisions being made now are not even old enough to vote. We speak out because we will be dealing with the fallout of issues like the Roadless Rule exemption and climate change for the rest of our lives. We understand the denial and procrastination of older generations, but we can’t afford to wait until we are older to take action on climate change. So, we thank the officials in the Committee for looking forward and taking our futures into consideration in their report, and we urge Senator Sullivan, Senator Murkowski, and Congressman Young to do the same.

----

Youth for Sustainable Futures is a youth-led effort to educate, motivate, and advocate for sustainable futures

for Alaska. Hannah Reynolds studies anthropology at Princeton University; Kate Guiney studies sociology at Grinnell College, and is an intern at Sitka Conservation Society.

 

 

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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-7-20)

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 11:20 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 53

Total statewide – 3,536

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (14 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 141.

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. 

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20 YEARS AGO
August 2000

Bring your wand if you’re coming, leave your disbelief at the door (no Muggles allowed), because room 220 at Blatchley is a place where the decorations, outfits and conversations are all very, very Harry Potter. “If you want to levitate, go ahead,” said Lacy Simons addressing the young wizards of the Harry Potter Reading and Writing Club. Simons, a VISTA volunteer, formed the club ....

50 YEARS AGO
August 1970

Photo caption: Youngsters who participated in the summer reading program at Kettleson Memorial Library include, from left, Lari Cook, Nancy Erickson, Yumiko Hayashi, Kyoko Ikenoue, Lu Ann Beidel, Tiffany Rose, Jessica Roth, Gwendolyn Roth, Rhonda Audette, Heather Owen, Susan Kohler, Glenn Oen, David Oen, Eric Oen, Stephen Weddell, Robert Weddell, Randy Turner, Takahiko Hosei, Douglas Henie, Lance Robards and Timothy Von Clasen.

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