FOOD LINE – A long line of cars on Lincoln Street, which at times stretched to the Harbor Drive intersection, wait to pick up free boxes of food on the SJ campus this morning. Sitka Conservation Society and Sysco Corporation administered the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program today, handing out 12,000 pounds of fresh produce, precooked meats and other items. So many people turned out for the distribution that supplies ran out about an hour before the advertised end. Organizer Chandler O’Connell with SCS said that next week’s distribution will be at a different time and location in order to avoid traffic congestion. Information on time and location will be posted on the Sitka Mutual Aid Facebook page. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

In-Person Schools Open Here Aug. 31

Sentinel Staff Writer

A Sitka School District task force is continuing work on its first draft of a plan for opening schools for in-person instruction in the fall.

“And it’s looking more and more like we may be opening most of the buildings as of Monday, the thirty-first of August,” Interim School District Superintendent John Holst told the Sitka Unified Command coronavirus response group Wednesday.

Holst was providing his weekly update to the group of healthcare, emergency response and city representatives who meet Wednesday afternoons at the fire hall. (The public information officer, Sara Peterson, provided a recording for this story.)

Holst said he’s received rough drafts for three of the five district schools.

“They believe they could do distancing inside the building,” he said. “They figured out how to use staff in the spaces to get the numbers down.”

Drafts for each building’s plans should be turned in by July 15, Holst said. “We’ll probably share them then with the community and see if we get any feedback that’s helpful and we’ll adjust accordingly.”

In her update, Public Health Nurse Denise Ewing told the group that two age ranges are continuing to make up the highest percentages of positive tests for the COVID-19 virus in the state.

“We’re looking at two age ranges that make up the majority of cases right now,” Ewing said. “Ages 20 to 29 are making up 21.53 percent; ages 30 to 39 are making up 19.74 percent.”

Some 133,400 COVID-19 tests have been administered throughout the state since the start of the coronavirus emergency, Ewing said. The state has an ICU bed capacity of 169, of which 69 are occupied for medical care of all kinds; and the state “ventilator capacity” is 284, of which 262 are available.

Ewing spends the majority of her time on contact tracing and notifying those who were in contact with the persons who tested positive.

She said that as of midnight Tuesday Sitka had 14 cases, including 10 “recoveries.”

“There are three closed cases that I’ve just closed and I have right now four open cases,” she said. “So four open active cases, one being a resident of Alaska and three being nonresident.”

The most recent positive test results, received Tuesday and Wednesday, were for seasonal seafood workers.

The city’s other public information officer, Jessica Ieremia, reported on ongoing public information officer issues around the state. 

Most recently, she said, the city of Anchorage put out a list of bars and restaurants where people said they had spent “extended time” before testing positive.

“It was met with a lot of likes and dislikes,” Ieremia said. “So there’s some controversy to that. So that other communities can kind of learn or kind of see what Anchorage did and see if you would want to follow up on that.”

Other conversations among PIOs in the state included a discussion on symptoms for the younger age groups. She said symptoms for children and teens are “generally milder,” and the number of cumulative hospitalizations for the same age group were lower than for influenza.

Ieremia also said the Alaska Marine Highway System is working on setting up a testing plan similar to the ones used at airports.

From SEARHC, Marketing and Communications Director Maegan Bosak said plans are being made for the start of a free testing program for the Sitka general public this weekend. The testing, by self-administered nasal swab, will be offered 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the drive-up testing site in the parking lot of the old Sitka Community Hospital.

All that’s needed is contact information, date of birth and gender. No appointments or referrals required, and it’s not necessary to show ID, Bosak said.

On a question of setting up testing for Sitka School District employees before the planned start of school, Bosak said SEARHC would be happy to make arrangements.

      City Administrator John Leach and Chief Finance and Administrative Officer Jay Sweeney talked about some of the logistics of getting reimbursed for costs incurred responding to the pandemic, including from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state.



You have no rights to post comments

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 10-27-20)

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: 378

Total statewide – 13,742

Total (cumulative) deaths – 70

Active cases in Sitka – 13 (10 resident; 3 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 62 (49 resident; 13 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 400.

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. 




October 2000

Photo caption: Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 4 cookbook committee members Helena Wolff, Marta Ryman, Jean Frank and Margaret Gross-Hope stand behind a shipment of cookbooks, “Best Ever Recipes.” Proceeds from sales will go to the ANS and ANB scholarship funds.

October 1970

Alaska Day weather was cold – in the 30s and 40s – but spirits were high. ... At the Baranof Ball Mr. and Mrs. Pete Karras won first prize in Native costumes. Period costume winners  were Mr. and Mrs.  Bob Marlow, Suzie French and Mr. and Mrs. Kurt Korthals. Jim Johnson, Alaska Airlines, presented the trip prize to Mr. and Mrs. Lewie Rucka.