November 18: Unified Command Weekly Meeting


SITKA, November 18, 2020

Incident Commander, John Leach participated in a teleconference with northern communities in Southeast Alaska to discuss the 2021 cruise ship season, what the season may look like and impacts on communities – e.g. hospital capacity, medevacs.  Leach noted later in the meeting Amy Ainslie would speak to the COVID Conscious Business program planned for rollout soon. The program, like one launched in Valdez, recognizes businesses that meet certain COVID conscious health and safety criteria. In closing, Leach stated the weekly wastewater sample had been sent in for COVID-19 analysis, results were pending and would be shared on the COVID-19 Dashboard. To stay informed on case counts and mitigation recommendations go to

Sitka School District Superintendent, John Holst shared that Baranof Elementary School had a successful reopen on November 16. If the District starts to see a downward trend in cases, they will consider possibly reopening other schools.

Thor Christianson, Logistics Operations said body bags ordered in the Spring had just arrived.

Denise Ewing, Public Health Nurse, reviewed case counts on the COVID-19 Dashboard. She announced the State, along with SEARHC and the City, will be a part of vaccination planning for our community. The program will roll out over three phases. She urges citizens to visit the CBS COVID-19 Dashboard for the most up to date Sitka information.  It is updated by 5:00 pm each day.

SEARHC Liaison, Maegan Bosak shared as of November 18; 34,883 tests in Sitka have been processed. Currently there are no COVID patients at Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center. There is 1 COVID patient in isolation in their short-term housing.

Craig Warren, Operations Chief reported that asymptomatic testing for travel to communities off the road system is available at the airport from 5:30 – 6:30 pm every day.

Janelle Vanasse, Mt. Edgecumbe High School Superintendent said they are looking at options in how to support their students as they travel home for Christmas.

Trish White, pharmacist shared points of distribution plans for the phase 1 rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program for frontline health care workers and emergency response personnel.

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 daily 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 or

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