News Release: August 26 Unified Command Weekly Meeting


SITKA, August 26, 2020 – This week Unifed Command met to discuss the start of the new school year, cloth face masks, procurement of funds from FEMA and the rollout of a new data dashboard.

Janelle Vanesse, Mt. Edgecumbe Superintendent, reported two students tested positive upon arrival and are isolating. They will receive their 7 day test this Friday, August 28.  All other students that have arrived on campus have tested negative upon arrival.

Dave Miller, Operations Commander, said they distributed approximately 2,000 masks on Saturday, August 22 at the Fire Hall.

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

Jay Sweeney,  Finance Section Chief, shared that the Finance Department is currently working on the procurement request from March and April. The May project has been sent to the Department of Homeland Security for review. Sitka did not receive the total amount of cloth face masks in a previous request to the State of Alaska. Incident Command has sent in a 213RR to the State for consideration of fullfilling our entire original request of 8,000 masks.

Maegan Bosak, SEARHC Liason & PIO, reported on the number of asymptomatic tests at Mountainside Clinic over the weekend. SEARHC staff continues to meet and discuss safety measures. SEARHC encourages Sitkans to not delay preventative care. 

John Holst, Sitka School District Superintendent, is feeling good about the start of school on August 27. The District is working on a letter that will be sent out to parents outlining how it will be communicated if there is a positve at the school. Visit the Districts website,, for more information.

In closing, Incident Commander John Leach read an email from FEMA demonstrating the level of detail required and the types of questions that are asked that can delay reimbursement for long periods of time.

Starting in early September the City and Borough of Sitka will unroll a new dashboard that will provide the community a multitude of local data gathered together in one spot. This will also be a local resource for parents, students, and teachers to get updated information on Sitka School District’s Smart Start operations. The dashboard will be located on the CBS COVID-19 Information Center

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 or

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