Unified Command Weekly Meeting



SITKA, November 11, 2020

Incident Commander, John Leach reported COVID-19 cases are increasing. The spread we are seeing was expected and we are taking a measured approach with it.

Leach reported on the most recent Wastewater Analysis Report. This week’s test exhibited an indicator of COVID-19 in our wastewater, which suggests community transmission is taking place.  Resolution 2020-30 was approved by the City and Borough of Sitka Assembly November 10 encouraging people to continue COVID-19 prevention efforts for keeping our schools open. To stay informed on case counts and mitigation recommendations go to https://cityofsitka.org/.

Thor Christianson, Logistics Operations said he has been receiving inquiries from the general public about where to get supplies.

Public Information Officers, Jessica Ieremia and Sara Peterson spoke of social media messaging that included: interstate travel requirements, encouraging residents to test if they’re traveling within Alaska, reminding citizens that face coverings are required in CBS facilities, stigma related to COVID-19 and encouraging kindness, local mitigation guidance for Sitka, starting to send out messaging on DHSS winter resiliency campaign, and resources from DHSS pertaining to steps to take after testing and contacts. Peterson shared in the near future; a second COIVD-19 alert level sign would be placed on the Harbor Drive side of the Library. Peterson thanked Fire Chief Warren for a recent video issuing a plea to citizens to continue to take COVID-19 prevention measures. Working on messaging for the holidays is up next and planning to contact the City of Valdez to find out more about their Valdez COVID Conscious Business program with hopes to implement a similar program in Sitka.

SEARHC Liaison, Maegan Bosak shared as of yesterday, 33,117 tests in Sitka have been processed with 117 positive results. Free asymptomatic testing has stopped with SEARHC who is now prioritizing symptomatic testing. People are reminded to call the COVID-19 hotline at 907- 966-8799 to schedule an appointment for a test. Asymptomatic testing is still available for those needing to travel for a $145 fee.

Rob Janik, Planning Section Chief reiterates to Sitkans to stay safe, limit social contacts, think twice before going out and socializing, wear a mask and get tested if you have symptoms.

Grace Roller, Public Health Nurse, reported new cases keep coming in.  Most people are cooperative and quarantine or isolate when asked, but a few people have declined to list their contacts. If you have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive, the recommendation is to quarantine for 14 days from your last known exposure and try to get a test 7 days after last known exposure. Quarantine and test if you know you have been in contact with a positive individual. When you do test, give correct and accurate contact information.

Janelle Vanasse, Mt. Edgecumbe High School Superintendent said they received a positive test result on campus, they are isolating, and the school is in the process of contact tracing.

Sitka School District Superintendent, John Holst spoke of how the district started with virtual instruction November 11. The schools are dealing with the optics, we don’t believe there would be transmission in the buildings but there is a risk and the numbers in the community have become too high to stay open. We’re at everyone’s mercy. Staff and students will be required to follow prior travel mandates from August.

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. 

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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