News Release: August 5 Unified Command Weekly Meeting


SITKA, August 5, 2020 – Testing, the start of school, and the State of Alaska’s leaning local approach were the main topics of discussion at the latest meeting of the Sitka Unified Command.

Incident Commander John Leach reported on the August 3, weekly command staff meeting which discussed the distribution plan of 8,000 cloth masks received from the State of Alaska. The airport testing team was directed to purchase iPads for non-resident travelers to register their negative Covid–19 test result before they fly.

On August 11, free airport tests for non-residents will cease. A negative test within 72 hours before departure will need to be uploaded into the new Alaska Travel Portal. If tested 72 hours before departure and awaiting results, travelers will need to upload proof of test taken into the Alaska Travel Portal and quarantine while waiting for results. Testing will be available at the airport for non-residents for $250 per test. The traveler will be required to quarantine while waiting on results.

Free testing remains available at airports to Alaskan residents or a 14 day quarantine is still an option. Chief Miller has reached out to Ketchikan Fire Chief Abner Hogue for information on a testing machine that has the capacity to run 58 tests per day. The base machine with two modules costs $80,000. This testing would be for first responders and critical infrastructure.

The State of Alaska is following a leaning local approach by offering local mitigation guidance. With help from Denise Ewing and Rob Janik, the EOC will develop this approach for Sitka using the model adopted by the state.

Thor Christianson, Logistics Operations, stated we received our order of disposable face masks and the plan is to order 10,000 additional masks with 2,000 being pediatric masks for supply at the EOC. Normal suppliers of PPE are beginning to loosen up.

John Holst, Sitka School District Superintendent, shared that the Sitka School District turned in their plan on July 31. The district is moving ahead with opening. August 17 teachers start arriving and August 27 is first day of school. Visit the districts website,, for more information.

Public Health Nurse Denise Ewing detailed the weekly confirmed cases throughout the state.

Janelle Vanasse, Mt. Edgecumbe Superintendent, said teachers are back on August 13 and students may arrive as early as August 18. School starts August 24.

Sitka Unified Command urges citizens to remain diligent and practice proper hygiene measures, such as washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with others and keeping your social circle small. In addition, stay home if you feel ill, wear a face covering when around others, and clean and disinfect objects and surfaces on a regular basis.

COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the flu – fever, aching, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, and sometimes decreased sense of taste and smell. If you are concerned you might have contracted the coronavirus contact the COVID hotline at 966.8799 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Outside of normal clinic hours, patients can contact the SEARHC 24/7 Nurse Advice Line at 1.800.613.0560 to be triaged by a registered nurse. 

Free COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic patients is available every weekend. Residents can receive a self-swab nasal test between the hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday at the Mountainside Family Clinic alternative test site, no appointment necessary. For more information, contact the SEARHC COVID-19 Hotline at 966.8799. Results are available in approximately seven (7) days.

The Emergency Operations Center encourages residents to prepare for any local emergency by ensuring each family member has a 14- day emergency supply kit, including any necessary medications.

For information on the local pandemic response, visit or

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