SITKA, October 21, 2020 – This week Unified Command discusses waste water testing and our mitigation efforts.

Incident Commander, John Leach stated we have remained at Low Alert Level, praised the community, and encouraged everyone to remain vigilant and keep following our mitigation guidelines. It is working. The City Wastewater Analysis Report came back showing undetectable traces of COVID-19. Wastewater testing is a reliable data set that shows virus shed in our waste stream. This data supports our 0.07 14 day rolling case count. It doesn’t mean there are no cases in town but should ease concerns about asymptomatic cases and it shows our mitigation efforts are the right ones.

Go to https://cityofsitka.org/ to read the full City Wastewater Analysis Report.

Denise Ewing, Public Health Nurse, reported a possible vaccination could be available as early as end of November to early December. It will come in 2 phases. There are hurdles and challenges to overcome with the storage, handling and tracking. Vaccinations will roll out first to healthcare providers, essential workers, over 65 and people with underlying medical conditions. There will not be a vaccine mandate.

The State is predicting positive case rates to accelerate and double every 26 days. The State has on boarded more contact tracers to stay on top of new cases. If someone from the State of Alaska calls, please answer your phone.

Janelle Vanasse, Mt. Edgecumbe Superintendent is expecting to welcome approximately 40 more students between October 30 – November 2. Students will quarantine off campus.

Rob Janik, Planning Section Chief, wants to commend our community members, visitors and business for their mitigation efforts especially in the face of what our neighbors in Juneau are experiencing. Juneau is a high alert level and locking down due to the level of disease transmission in their community.

Jay Sweeney, Finance Section Chief, stated FEMA continues to ask for numerous information requests. We have yet to receive any payment for any projects back to March.

Thor Christianson, Logistics Operations, spoke to the high alert level in the state and wonders if it would be worthwhile to ask community members to take advantage of airport testing when traveling in -state.

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 cityofsitka.org or covid19.searhc.org.

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