NEWS RELEASE: June 16 Unified Command Meeting

SITKA, June 16, 2021  – Incident Commander Craig Warren stated the Cruise Ship Calendar for was in draft form but that Wednesdays appeared to be heavy passenger days with often times, two large ships in at the same time beginning as early as July 21. He said that hotels were fully booked which led to issues of places for individuals to isolate that test positive for COVID-19. He told of a Memorandum of Agreement with the City and Borough of Sitka and Carnival Cruise Lines as a requirement with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Planning Section Chief Rob Janik encouraged the unvaccinated population to get vaccinated by visiting Harry Race Pharmacy at Sitka Fire Hall or SEARHC at https://covid19.searhc.org/. He stated that the vaccine will expand soon to the younger population. He said that airport testing continued although it was underutilized. He encouraged all individuals to test upon arrival and said that average return of results was 24 hours. He stated that he had not received information for the City and Borough of Sitka COVID-19 Dashboard with regards to Airport Travel Metrics. He told of the Delta COVID strain and noted that all three types of vaccines Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna show effective against it.

Public Health Nurse, Denise Ewing encouraged and shared the benefits of getting/being vaccinated. She relayed that the positive case count was down, but that most active cases were travel related. She gave vaccination rates of outlying communities noting that some gave incentives for individuals to get vaccinated. She said that two seafood processing plants were 100% vaccinated and a third was approximately 80%. She recommended calling Public Health to get children up to date with all immunizations, for family planning, and to make a health care appointment if needed. She relayed symptoms regarding the Delta COVID variant.

Public Information Officers, Melissa Henshaw and Jessica Ieremia reported they had been posting less, but still a few times a week of information on travel, vaccines, alert level shifts, and relaying information on the website and social media. Henshaw said that the State of Alaska Department of Health and Human Services website could be accessed at covid19.alaska.gov.

Trish White, Harry Race Pharmacist said that they would continue vaccine clinics every Friday at the Fire Hall through the end of June. She thanked the Fire Hall for the ability to have the clinics and the smooth process. She stated that there were 29 to 40 individuals that received vaccinations at the last two clinics. She said beginning in July there would be vaccine appointment scheduling available. Citizens may register for a vaccination clinic at Harry Race Pharmacy at Sitka Fire Hall.

Janelle Vanasse, Superintendent of Mt. Edgecumbe High School stated that they were working on COVID-19 mitigation for the fall. She relayed that they were encouraging families to be vaccinated prior to fall arrival, but that students could receive one on arrival. She noted that enrollment applications were up over 100 from the previous year.

Superintendent of the Sitka School District, John Holst noted this would be his last meeting and the new Superintendent would start July 1. He said that summer school began this week, three buildings were in use, and there would be an incoming kindergarten camp. He reflected on last school year noting that he was glad that children were able to attend school in person.

Thor Christianson, Logistics mentioned that although PPE was available, the costs for it had risen.

Unified Command recommends citizens enroll for a vaccination online with Harry Race Pharmacy at Harry Race Pharmacy at Sitka Fire Hall 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. 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 https://cityofsitka.org or https://covid19.searhc.org.

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