SPLASH – An SUV makes a tremendous splash as it drives through a puddle on Lake Street Sunday morning.  A storm front Sunday and Monday morning brought with it torrential rain, thunder,  lightning and a power outage, but no major damage. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Wrangell City Loses COVID Plan Appeal

By JUNE LEFFLER
KSTK Radio

Wrangell’s proposed restrictions on people arriving to the island community have been shelved after the state said the Southeast city doesn’t have the authority. City leaders had wanted to coordinate the flow of commercial fishermen and fish plant workers expected to arrive for the season.

A state health mandate restricts all nonessential travel except to workers in critical industries. And that supersedes local restrictions. But it allows smaller, isolated towns with limited health care facilities to add restrictions to ward against an outbreak of COVID-19.

In Wrangell, commercial salmon fishing gets going in mid-June. Around that time more than 30 seasonal fish plant workers from out-of-state work in Wrangell’s sole fish processor. The plant manager says the workers will self-quarantine for 14 days before coming into town.

Elected officials in Wrangell wanted copies of mitigation plans that employers in critical industries – skippers and processors – have filed with the state to secure exemptions to travel restrictions. So far state public officials haven’t shared these plans with local authorities.

That doesn’t sit well with Assembly member David Powell. He says a few infected people arriving in Wrangell could snowball.

“And then all of a sudden we could have 10 to 20 cases in here because we didn’t do something,” Powell says.

He wants to see these local mandates in place as soon as possible. But the city recently got word from the state that it lacks the authority to make its own rules. On Wednesday an email arrived from the state’s unified command that Wrangell Medical Center qualifies as a “hub” hospital as defined in the health mandate. 

That frustrated Wrangell Mayor Steve Prysunka. Wrangell’s hospital is run by the tribal health organization SEARHC – whose regional hub hospital for COVID-19 cases is Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center in Sitka. 

But the mayor says — in the state’s eyes at least — his island town of 2,400 people is not a “small community” since it has a hub hospital.

“We just don’t meet that, and it doesn’t matter what SEARHC thinks it is, all that matters is what the state says it is,” Prysunka says.

The measure ultimately failed 5-2. The assembly did not want to move forward and risk legal action from the state or industries down the line. But Powell was among those that wanted to keep pushing.

“I still feel that this is still critical to the safety of our community and that there is no reason why we would not take action,” he says.

The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported this month that Cordova enacted restrictions similar to what Wrangell had proposed. And the two are very similar communities. Both are off the road system, have fewer than 3,000 residents and have health care facilities categorized as “critical access hospitals,” which the state classifies as hub hospitals.

The seafood industry has been watching this unfold in a number of fishing towns across Alaska. 

United Fishermen of Alaska Executive Director Frances Leach says the industry isn’t taking its exemptions for granted. The fishing fleet is working to take steps to minimize any health risks.

“We respect and appreciate the communities for hosting us every summer, and we’re working diligently on letting the communities know it is a concern,” Leach says.

 

 

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

 

Login Form

______________________

 

Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 9-28-20)

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 11:50 a.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 115

Total statewide – 7,597

Total (cumulative) deaths – 56

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (11 resident; 9 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 44 (37 resident; 7 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 286.

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. 

______________________

 

 

20 YEARS AGO
September 2000

Sitka Open Golf Tournament winners are: Men’s Division – Semisi Funaki, Tom Mattingly and Gregory Martin. Women’s Division – Janet Schwartz, Judy Sudnikovich and Liza Martin. Youth Division – Elaina Mattingly, Matthew Way and Sidney Wyman.

50 YEARS AGO
September 1970

Lions Catch a Bear at Kake. They were on Lions Club business, but Willie Dick and Bill Pasek, Sitka, brought back a bear from Kake. Pasek shot the 6-foot-tall black bear after Lions Club business was ended. He and Dick brought the bear back to Sitka where Larry Ross and Dick Wight helped prepare it for a taxidermist.

__________________ 

 

 

Facebook

calendar