News Release: March 3 Unified Command Meeting


SITKA, March 3, 2021  – Incident Commander, Craig Warren announced he has assumed his new role as Incident Commander and that Unified Command will be readdressing objectives laid out at the beginning of the pandemic. He noted the group would review objectives to determine if they were still pertinent or if they needed to be revised. Warren stated he was hopeful that Sitka was coming to a point where we could start planning for our recovery stage and next steps.

The CDC and Sitka Unified Command recommend continued mitigation guidance along with getting vaccinated. To stay informed visit the CBS COVID-19 Dashboard at

Jay Sweeney, Finance Section Chief, provided an update on the September through December 2020 project, which had been submitted to the State of Alaska Department of Homeland Security for review. He stated a response had not been received likely due to the lack of a current point of contact who had been moved to another position. CBS was waiting to be assigned another manager to assist.

Public Information Officers, Jess Ieremia and Sara Peterson, reminded individuals traveling to familiarize themselves with the State of Alaska Health Advisories.

Public Health Nurse, Denise Ewing shared that the State of Alaska had significantly expanded the criteria for those who were eligible to receive State allocated vaccine. She reported the State of Alaska had been allocated 8,100 Johnson and Johnson vaccine doses for the month of March. Next week, the State would allocate 100 Johnson and Johnson doses to Sitka. Ewing reviewed case counts and reminded Sitkans to remember to vaccinate and to continue getting tested. Starting next week, the State would open vaccination clinics to seafood processors.

Amy Ainslie, Unit Resource Leader reminded the Sitka COVID Conscious Business Program was still open. She encouraged businesses interested in applying to visit and click on the Sitka COVID Conscious Business Program link at the top of the page. For questions email

Trish White, Harry Race Pharmacist shared excitement about entering into Phase 1C of the vaccine eligibility. White mentioned in March, Harry Race & White’s Pharmacies would hold clinics every Wednesday and Friday. To date, the pharmacies had given a total 1,127 vaccines. Citizens may register for a vaccination clinic at Harry Race Pharmacy at Sitka Fire Hall.

Superintendent of the Sitka School District, John Holst, announced the School Board would meet March 3 and review amendments of the Smart Start program. Changes to the program would be described at the board meeting.

Janelle Vanasse, Superintendent of Mt. Edgecumbe High School shared that 150 students had received at least one vaccination. Vanasse said every student 16 and over had been given an opportunity to receive the vaccine. Mt. Edgecumbe High School continues, even with high vaccination rates, to ask students not to travel outside of Sitka for the remainder of the school year. Vanasse stated travel was considered the highest risk for students living in shared space with one another. She said parents, if vaccinated, were not required to quarantine upon arrival in Sitka when visiting their children.

Unified Command recommends citizens to enroll for a vaccination online with Harry Race Pharmacy at Harry Race Pharmacy at Sitka Fire Hall and with SEARHC at

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 or

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