January 13 News Release: Unified Command’s Weekly Meeting


SITKA, January 13, 2020  – Incident Commander, John Leach highlighted that the second round of vaccinations are in progress and has been completed for a good number of people in Sitka. Requests have been made to have our local vaccination data shared on the COVID 19 Dashboard.  Leach stated Sitka will work on providing our local vaccine allocation data for public viewing. The State of Alaska reports vaccination data on their dashboard and can be viewed at State of Alaska Vaccine Monitoring Dashboard. Leach thanked the community and members of the EOC for everyone’s cooperation and continued support. 

Jay Sweeney, Finance Section Chief gave an update on FEMA projects.

Public Information Officers, Sara Peterson and Jessica Ieremia shared the State of Alaska’s urgency for the public to continue to wear masks, wash hands and social distance once they have been vaccinated. Until the type of protection, the vaccine offers us is understood we need to keep up our mitigation measures and not change our behaviors yet.

Public Health Nurse, Denise Ewing gave a case report and said we are seeing an uptick from holiday gatherings and travel.

Harry Race Pharmacist, Trish White said this morning, January 13, they had a successful vaccination clinic and gave 55 inoculations of Moderna vaccine. White thanked the Sitka Firehall for their assistance which helps to make their clinics so successful.  White stated they will mainly be using Moderna vaccine due to ease of transportation and storage.  The next clinic takes place Wednesday, January 20.

Amy Ainslie, Unit Resource Leader continues to monitor the Sitka COVID Conscious Business Program. There are five businesses that have applied and received the certification. If a business is interested in applying for the program go to cityofsitka.org and click on the Sitka COVID Conscious Business Program link at the top of the page.

Maegan Bosak, SEARHC Liaison reported that SEARHC continues to recommend if you are interested in receiving a vaccine to register online at covid19.SEARHC.org. At registration it is very important to make sure that you have a valid email address entered. This email address will be used to send a link for you to schedule when the vaccine becomes available and your sequence is up. Additional vaccine is coming to town this week. Any questions about SEARHC’s sequencing or FAQs go to covid19.SEARHC.org.

SEARHC Incident Commander, Dr Bruhl urged individuals 75+ who have not yet received a first vaccine to please register. He noted that SEARHC was currently giving first dose vaccines to 65+ and front-line workers.

SEARHC continues to do surveillance testing of all vaccinated staff and requires staff to use personal protective equipment. For everyone who has been vaccinated, the pandemic is not over. The vaccine offers additional protection to serious illness and death. Data is being collected as we vaccinate millions and millions of people and we cannot begin to change our behaviors yet. People are dying by the thousands every day. SEARHC continues to urge Sitkans to wear masks, keep our distance and wash our hands.

John Holst, Superintendent for Sitka School District reported schools opened on Monday, January 11. The Schools will continue to work with the Public Health Nurse and watch the case numbers closely. Currently they are not considering closing the buildings.

Janelle Vanasse, Superintendent of Mt. Edgecumbe High School said over 300 kids have returned to campus. Whenever kids return to campus the school goes into High Alert level. Kids are on campus and in quarantine till January 13.  A couple kids have returned to campus with positive test results and are being isolated from the rest of the students. Vanasse thanked the local businesses that have become certified as COVID Conscious. The school hopes the City will go into low risk again and they will watch out for which businesses participate in this program for the safety of their students.

Unified Command recommends citizens to enroll for a vaccination online with Harry Race Pharmacy at Harry Race COVID Vaccination Tier3 Bookings 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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