News Release: August 19 Unified Command Weekly Meeting

UNIFIED COMMAND INTRODUCES NEW COMMUNITY ALERT LEVELS AND DASHBOARD AT WEEKLY MEETING

SITKA, August 19, 2020 – Highlights of the August weekly Unifed Command meeting were softball tournament requests and preparing to rollout new Alert Levels and a data dashboard that coincides with the State of Alaska’s mitigation guidelines.

Incident Commander John Leach reported since the last briefing, August 14th he received notification from the State of Alaska that free marketing material was available. A 213 RR was submitted Monday, August 17th for these items. On August 16th, a softball group from Juneau appealed a denial to hold a softball tournament in Sitka. This request was denied by the Municipal Administrator based on the 45 day advance notification requirement and that it is a risk too close to our schools opening and could have potential impacts from visitors into our community.

Tuesday, August 18th, Leach sat in on a call with the State and Abner Hogue from Ketchikan to discuss data dashboards as a part of the State of Alaska’s Leaning Local initiative. Sitka is in the process of working on a change in our case count update.  The goal is to use the numbers and mitigation levels that we have now, move them to a centralized website, and supplement with press releases. We want one source of information for the community that will show community risk level, recommended mitigation levels and display a multitude of local data points. The EOC will be looking for marques around town that can be used to display our risk level.

Dr. Bruhl, Incident Commander SEARHC, said staff continues to work with Mt. Edgecumbe High School on their testing process for students and their quarantine and isolation plans of students who may arrive and test positive. MEHS will not have their usual amount of circulation within the community.  

SEARHC testing supplies are strong with increasing amount of test kits and increased ability for inhouse testing will occur with the arrival of new testing machines.

John Holst, Sitka School District Superintendent, stated that 170 staff members have completed testing on August 15.  Mandatory self-administered testing will take place every two weeks. The district is planning on opening for the first day of school on August 27 & 28. Visit the Districts website, https://www.sitkaschools.org/, for more information.

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

The State of Alaska is following a leaning local approach by offering local mitigation guidance. Sitka’s Unified Command will soon put into effect a Local Mitigation Guidance plan provided by the State. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has defined three alert levels of community transmission. These alert levels will compliment our average daily new cases in Sitka over the past 14 days.

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 sitkacovid19.org or covid19.searhc.org.

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