SUPPLY CHAIN WOES – James Pelletier, Yellow Jersey bicycle mechanic, is surrounded by cycles waiting to be repaired as he points to empty display racks at the Harbor Drive store. The main showroom rack, which can hold two dozen new bicycles, now holds only three bicycles (including an unclaimed special-order $5,000 electric mountain bike) for sale. A nationwide supply chain disruption of bicycles and parts is not expected to be alleviated any time soon. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Anchorage Short of Help On Virus Contact Tracing

ANCHORAGE (AP) — A rise in COVID-19 cases is taxing Anchorage’s ability to investigate cases, according to health officials. 

The city and state are working to expand contact tracing abilities as local cases increase with people interacting more, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Tracking contacts of people who have tested positive is an important tool in efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Anchorage Health Department Director Natasha Pineda said the city hopes temporarily to hire people to help with contact tracing and in the next month or two hire more public health nurses while working with the state’s new contact tracing system to expand capacity.

She said cases are emerging with more contacts. Earlier in the pandemic, people may have interacted with three to five people, but some now report dozens of contacts, she said.

“In the past week, we’ve had a lot of cases that are associated with locations where there’s well over 100 people that they may have interacted with and we can’t trace or contact any of them,” Pineda said.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

When people go dancing or socialize indoors among large groups and do not maintain distance or wear masks as they go about their activities, “that’s going to cause community spread that’s really hard to manage,” Pineda said.

The state is implementing a contact investigation and tracking database called CommCare that Pineda said could help with Anchorage’s capacity issues.

Tari O’Connor, deputy director of the state Division of Public Health, said it’s taking longer than expected to implement the new system. One thing that’s taken time is transferring case information to the platform, along with hiring and training contact tracers and working with other agencies, she said. 

Contact tracers coordinate to provide help to parts of the state where help is needed, she said. “Because we do share resources between regions, we are also kind of having capacity issues statewide in terms of contact tracing,” she said.

The state and city have reduced how often they are following up with contacts, O’Connor and Pineda said.

Dr. Bruce Chandler, medical officer for municipal disease prevention and control in Anchorage, said some people want daily calls and others don’t. Anchorage has begun giving nurses more discretion in how frequently they call and when they might instead provide information for contacting the health department.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.

 

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 9-21-20)

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 10:45 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 46

Total statewide – 6,950

Total (cumulative) deaths – 45

Active cases in Sitka – 17 (7 resident; 10 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 41 (37 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 266.

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
September 2000

Enrollment is down by more than 100 students from last year, a decline four times greater than anticipated in the budget, Sitka School District Superintendent John Holst said today. The budget was based on an enrollment down by only 25 students.

50 YEARS AGO
September 1970

The borough assembly approved unanimously an ordinance authorizing expenditure of $12,000 for a redevelopment plan for the Sitka Indian Village. ... Judy Christianson, a member of the Sitka Community Action Group board of directors, has suggested that the planning be handled by a private social service organization called Habitats West.

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