December 30 News Release: Unified Command’s Weekly Meeting

UNIFIED COMMAND DISCUSSES SEQUENCING GROUPS AND ONLINE ENROLLMENT FOR VACCINATIONS

SITKA, December 30, 2020

Incident Commander, John Leach spoke to the storm damage that occurred in early December around Sitka and noted that the Governor included Sitka in the State’s disaster declaration. Sitka will have access to disaster relief assistance. Jay Sweeny, Finance Section Chief will be the point of contact for this disaster.

Sitka’s case count is on the decline and last week’s Wastewater Analysis Report indicates the amount of viral gene copies detected in our wastewater is decreasing. Leach thanked the community for practicing mitigation measures and helping keep Sitka on the downward trend of cases by continuing to do so through New Year’s celebrations.

Public Information Officers, Jessica Ieremia and Sara Peterson are keeping citizens informed with updates on the CBS COVID-19 and Facebook pages on local vaccine allocations.

Trish White, Harry Race/White’s Pharmacist announced they are working with the State on Phase I Tier 3 distribution of the Moderna vaccine.  Harry Race & White’s pharmacy are taking enrollment through the State’s online appointment system. For enrollment visit the State DHSS website http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/id/pages/COVID-19/vaccine.aspx.

Denise Ewing, Public Health Nurse reviewed case reports and noted the downward trend in positive cases in Sitka and throughout the State of Alaska. Ewing received information that the amount of Moderna and Pfizer vaccine supplied for the State of Alaska will be more than previously thought. The State’s Phase 2 is tentatively scheduled to begin in early February. 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. 

Operations Sections Chief, Craig Warren is asking for patience from the community with the vaccination and allocation process.  White’s, SEARHC, and DHSS are coordinating the vaccine distribution.

Maegan Bosak, SEARHC Liaison reported that a total of 42,026 COVID-19 tests have been performed. As of December 30, in Sitka, SEARHC has vaccinated 854 people. A huge effort is in place to get out as many vaccinations as fast as possible. Community COVID-19 vaccine clinics are taking place for SEARHC with sequencing into 7 groups as follows: Group 1: long-term care and essential health workers, Group 2: elders 80+, Group 3: elders and front line essential workers as defined by the CDC, Group 4: older individuals, medically vulnerable and other essential workers 65-79, Group 5: ages 55-64, Group 6: ages 50 + , Group 7: general population. Groups will be vaccinated in this sequencing order. It is recommended for individuals interested in receiving the vaccine to register online at https://covid19.searhc.org/ and a SEARHC representative will call you for an appointment based on the sequencing group an individual is in.

John Holst, Superintendent for Sitka School District shared that next Monday and Tuesday, January 4-5   will be in-service days and virtual school will start January 6. The District is hoping to announce next week that schools will open full-time for instruction on January 11. The District is eager to get back to some sense of normality. Many educators, who were in town, were able to receive their vaccination in a clinic held by SEARHC on Wednesday, December 30. 

Janelle Vanasse, Superintendent of Mt. Edgecumbe High School thanked SEARHC for vaccinating staff. Students return to campus on January 8 and school will start January 11. Students will be in quarantine on campus for initial phase and won’t come out until a second test, approximately 7 days later. Most staff will have received their second vaccine by the time students are back in class. Students are enjoying their vacations, and no one brought COVID-19 back to their home communities.

Unified Command recommends citizens to enroll for a vaccination online with White’s Pharmacy at http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/id/pages/COVID-19/vaccine.aspx and with SEARHC at https://covid19.searhc.org/.

We urge 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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