News Release: September 16 Unified Command Weekly Meeting


SITKA, September 16, 2020 – This week Unifed Command reports on the fine tuning of both the new data dashboard, and the schools Smart Start program.

John Leach, Incident Commander, stated it has been quiet with nothing notable to report.  September 15, Leach sat in on the ICS meeting with SEARHC and reported it was very informative. He was able to present the new data dashboard along with what statistics they will provide in their section. The dashboard is located on the CBS COVID-19 Information Center  Additional data points may be added as we collect information.

Leach reported for John Holst, Superintendent of Sitka School District, stating they continue to work on fine tuning their protocols. Dr. Bruhl has been helpful with returning students who have exhibited COVID-19 symptoms. SEARHC has been instrumental in removing barriers for parents without healthcare insurance to arrange testing for their children. Visit the District website,, for more information.

Jessica Ieremia, Public Information Officer, shared the community has given positive feedback about the visibility of the alert level being on display outside the firehall.

Thor Christianson, Logistics Operations, recommends starting a list of items to be purchased in December.

Leach reported for Melissa Haley, Finance Section Chief, noting the City is moving away from FEMA and shifting expenses to CARES Act.

Public Health Nurse Denise Ewing reported on local case numbers. She also shared that the State of Alaska has hired a new RN for contract tracing who is located in Sitka.

Janelle Vanasse, Mt. Edgecumbe Superintendent, stated the school has shifted into low risk status and kids now have access to going into town along with the addition of a couple other activities. The school has created a Visitor Center for deliveries. It is located at what used to be the maintenance building. The front office is used as a check-in for drop-off of books, food, and other items. Visitors can see students but have to maintain a 6-foot distance.

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 Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center Testing 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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