News Release December 9: Unified Command’s Weekly Meeting



SITKA, December 9, 2020

Incident Commander, John Leach reported the case count is in a downward trend. Leach expressed his appreciation for the community’s cooperation in complying with COVID-19 prevention measures and asked for everyone to keep up the good efforts. Leach participated in a phone conference with communities in Southeast Alaska regarding the 2021 cruise ship season to determine a path forward for collaboration with the cruise ship industry and Southeast communities. A decision was made to create a centralized Smartsheet for all communities. This Smartsheet will create a COVID-19 Dashboard for the cruise ship industry to use in the coming 2021 season. Leach is anticipating news from the Governor whether he will give an extension to the disaster declaration.

School District Superintendent, John Holst is working with a task force committee who is updating the District’s Smart Start Plan and developing other measures to factor when considering school closures. The School District hopes to open all schools on January 11. On December 16, there will be an in-person listening session at Centennial Hall for an opportunity to inquire about the changes in the Smart Start Plan.

Denise Ewing, Public Health Nurse reviewed the local downward trending case rate. Ewing continues to work with the COVID-19 vaccination plan. In phase 2, Public Health will be responsible to vaccinate the homeless shelter, SAFV, homebound, seafood processing plants, incarcerated, Sitka Counseling, and the rural communities of Port Armstrong, Port Alexander, Port Baker, & Port Protection.  Harry Race & Whites Pharmacy are responsible for phase 1 and will be responsible to vaccinate EMT Sitka Firehall, Sitka Police, Alaska State Troopers, Guardian Medic First Responders, and healthcare workers not covered under SEARHC. Ewing encouraged citizens to participate in the weekly COVID-19 Science Echo programs every Wednesday 12 – 1pm. Call Public Health 907-747-3255 to receive an invite to the Echo meeting.

Amy Ainslie, Unit Resource Leader is working on the COVID Conscious Business Program’s final draft. It will go live Friday, December 11 and be available on the webpage. The COVID conscious Business program recognizes businesses that meet certain COVID health and safety criteria. The Chamber and Visit Sitka have been instrumental partners with this program.

SEARHC Liaison, Maegan Bosak reported the COVID vaccine internal task force is working hard in preparation for the vaccine arrival. SEARHC is preparing to launch a large public affairs campaign to educate on the safety of the vaccine.  As of December 9, 39,138 COVID tests have been processed in Sitka. Lab staff are working 24/7 to get test results completed.

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 or

# # #

Leave a Reply