PAINTING WEATHER – Downtown Sitka is pictured from the vantage point of commercial painter Keith Fredrickson’s 60-foot man lift today. Fredrickson Painting Inc. was taking advantage of the partly sunny weather to get a coat of paint on the Sitka Hotel, foreground, today. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

City Administrator Declares Emergency

BULLETIN: City Administrator John Leach today declared a local disaster emergency in effect for seven days.


Sentinel Staff Writer

An emergency Assembly meeting has been called for 6 p.m. Monday, for members to consider a resolution that allows Leach to extend the disaster declaration until Nov. 24, or until the state or federal government says it is no longer an emergency, “whichever comes first,” Leach said today.

There is one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Alaska at this time, and no confirmed cases in Sitka. 

Monday’s meeting at Harrigan Centennial Hall is open to the public, but City Clerk Sara Peterson said today, “People are encouraged to attend by watching it.” That can be done on the city’s webpage, and the Sentinel’s and KCAW-FM’s Facebook pages.

At 3:30 p.m. today, Leach read the following disaster declaration on the Code Red line, that went out to 5,800 phones:

“Good afternoon. This is John Leach, your Municipal Administrator.

“Today, I am declaring a local disaster emergency in accordance with AS 26.23.140 to help prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, to open emergency funding, and formally request State and Federal support.  As of this reading, there are still no known cases of the COVID-19 virus in Sitka.

“I am urging citizens who are returning from travel, by either plane or boat, to take individual steps to reduce any potential transmission of any virus.  Such actions include washing your hands, coughing/sneezing into your elbow, practicing good social distancing, and not touching your face.  I also urge self-reporting of potential contact to the virus to local health officials.  When returning from travel, please do your best to limit your contact with community members who are in the identified high-risk groups (persons over 65 and persons with chronic disease) and consider a self-quarantine.

“As I said last Friday, I’m asking that travel outside of Sitka be limited to essential travel only.  Many local school clubs and sports teams have already cancelled their travel.

“Businesses are encouraged to allow remote work for employees who have that capability, and I’m asking that citizens coordinate with their employers to pursue those opportunities.  I’m also asking our local businesses to consider “phasing” services by limiting the amount of personnel in their business at one time to avoid creating a large gathering.

“City offices and buildings (including Harrigan Hall and the Library) will be closed except for those purposes that are deemed essential to the health, safety, and security of the citizens of Sitka (i.e. power, water, sewer, garbage, emergency services, and police).  Any employee that is not directly supporting the essential functions I just mentioned will either work remotely, be placed in a recall status, or placed on administrative leave.  I would ask that the School District consider the same administrative leave option to ensure money continues moving through the local economy.

“We understand that the schools are a source of childcare for some families, and we also understand that school lunches are a necessity for some students.  SSD has been working with their bus drivers to explore opportunities to deliver lunches to those children during the school closure period, however long that extends.  Please contact SSD for more information.

“Knowing that many families will need to stay home to provide childcare, that businesses may choose to close temporarily, or some employees will have to stay home due to sickness, I’ll be working with the Assembly to develop a plan to address concerns with payments due to the City such as utility payments.  Options include placing a temporary moratorium on CBS utility bills.  The bills would still require future payment, but we could potentially waive penalties and disconnects on a case-by-case basis. 

“The biggest message to take away is that we need to work together as a community to slow the spread of the virus, reduce the number of cases, and not overwhelm our healthcare system.

“Please go to or call 2-1-1 for more information on the State’s response to COVID-19 and for other helpful resources.

“With the hearts of Sitkans and resiliency of Alaskans, we are poised to make Sitka the standard by which all other cities are measured!

“Thank you.”

The Assembly at its emergency meeting on Monday will consider the following resolution:

WHEREAS, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death and is caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus (“virus”), a new strain of the corona virus that has not been previously identified in humans and is easily transmittable person to person; and, 

WHEREAS, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (“WHO”) declared the virus a pandemic; Alaska Governor Dunleavy issued a declaration of public health disaster emergency in response to the anticipated outbreak of COVID-19 in Alaska; and on March 13, 2020, President Donald J. Trump declared a national emergency in response to the virus pandemic; and 

WHEREAS, a positive case of COVID-19 has been identified within the State of Alaska; and 

WHEREAS, on March 13, 2020, Governor Dunleavy closed all schools in Alaska for two weeks; and multiple other facilities and services in Sitka were suspended due to precautionary methods for protecting community from the COVID-19 virus; and

WHEREAS, on March 13, 2020, the Prime Minister of Canada closed all cruise ship ports in Canada until July 2020, which will dramatically impact the cruise ship calls into Sitka with a substantial effect to the Sitka economy; and 

WHEREAS, a declaration of disaster emergency will alert the public to the seriousness of the risk, and provide direction to sources of information and other available public health resources, all while the City and Borough works in cooperation with other local and state agencies through the Sitka Emergency Operations Center to implement actions and responses to address the probable COVID-19 outbreak. 

NOW THEREFORE, in accordance with the recommendations of the Sitka Emergency Operations Center, I now declare a disaster emergency in the City and Borough of Sitka based on the risk to the public posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the substantial economic impacts to the City and Borough of Sitka. As provided by AS 26.23 .140, the intent of this declaration is to activate the response and recovery aspects of any and all applicable local or interjurisdictional disaster or emergency plans, and to authorize the furnishing of aid and assistance under those plans. Further, I hereby request that the Assembly continue this declaration until November 24, 2020, or until the virus is no longer declared a federal or state emergency, whichever occurs first. Signed this 15th day of March, 2020.”

The Department of Health and Social Services today issued a health advisory:

DHSS strongly advises that all Alaskans read and comply with the following guidance for returning travelers:

Higher Risk: For travelers returning within 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread, ongoing community spread such as Europe, China and other countries (i.e., a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice Area) you should:

– Stay home and avoid contact with other household members.

– Contact your employer and do not go to work or school for this 14-day period after you return.

– There is a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice Area for China, Iran, South Korea, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City.

Medium Risk: For travelers returning within 14 days from outside of Alaska (including the rest of the United States) you should:

– Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.

– Minimize contact with people as much as possible, self-monitor and practice social distancing.

– This may mean not going to work or school if you cannot safely be distanced from others – especially if you traveled in a location where community transmission is occurring.

Health Guidance for Returning Travelers in the Higher and Medium Risk Groups

– Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.

– Do not take mass transportation during the time you are practicing social distancing.

– Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.

– Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

– If you get sick with fever (>100.3°F), cough, or shortness of breath, please call your health care provider.

– If you seek medical care for other reasons, such as dialysis, call ahead to your doctor and tell them about your recent travel.

– All Alaskans should follow previous guidance including regular hand washing, cleaning surfaces and avoiding large gatherings (March 13 COVID-19 Health Alert: Recommendations for Keeping Communities Safe).

The governor closed the schools through March 30, but boarding schools have separate plans.



August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30, 2020, 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 5-8-21)

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 11:50 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 114

Total statewide – 66,120

Total (cumulative) deaths – 343

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,508

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

The City of Sitka posted the following update on COVID-19 cases in Sitka as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

Active cases in Sitka – 7

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 367 (321 resident; 46 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 359

Deceased (cumulative) – 1

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.

• • •


Sitka Vax Stats 

The State of Alaska DHSS reported Thursday the following statistics on vaccinations for Sitka.

Partially vaccinated – 4,898 (70.469%)

Fully vaccinated – 4,486 (64.56%)

Total population (16+) –6,949

Sitka has vaccinated (with at least one dose) 1,249 (84.51%) of its senior population (1,478 total), age 65 and older. 

Vaccination data for the City and Borough of Sitka can be found online at:





May 2001

Richard Nelson, Alaska writer and cultural anthropologist, will be speaker at the University of Alaska Southeast, Sitka Campus, commencement exercises at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School

May 1971

The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game announced today that the 100-ton herring quota in District 13, outside of the Sitka Sound area, has been harvested. The 750-ton quota for Sitka Sound was taken by April 7.