COVID-19 Case Counts (Last update 11/23/20 at 4:07 PM)

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services issued guidance on Friday, May 15, to help residents reincorporate social activities with people other than members of our immediate households. In a nutshell: Keep it limited to a very few people, keep it outside, and keep up good hygiene and social-distancing practices.

Read the entire guidance from the Alaska DHSS.

On Tuesday, May 12, Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued Health Mandate 18, allowing travel to resume between communities on the state's road system -- including communities accessibly by the Marine Highway.

The mandate overrides local quarantines imposed by some Southeast communities (such as Angoon).

Beginning Friday, May 8, many businesses required to close by state health mandate may reopen -- with specific limits. See complete details about Phase 2 of the Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan. In brief, Phase 2 allows: 

  • 50% capacity for retail, restaurants, and other non-essential businesses outlined in Phase 1 (see Health Mandate 16 for the complete list). Walk-ins permitted.
  • 50% capacity, or up to 20 patrons, for personal care services. Reservations only.
  • 25% capacity for fitness centers. Walk-ins permitted.
  • 50% capacity for swimming pools. Walk-ins permitted.
  • 25% capacity for bars, libraries, and museums. Walk-ins permitted.
  • Social, religious, and other gatherings are limited to 50 persons, with universal face coverings suggested.

Of note: Social distancing and universal face coverings are required in many businesses identified in Phase 2, as a condition of reopening.

In Sitka the Assembly met in emergency session on April 23 and did not rescind the municipal "hunker down" ordinance (see below), so it remains in effect until May 12. The question of whether a municipal ordinance could supersede a state mandate in this circumstance remains unresolved.

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing. The SEARHC COVID Hotline is 907-966-8799 (8 A.M. - 5 P.M.). After hours, call the Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-613-0560.

As of Thursday, March 26, SEARHC will be updating screening criteria to include testing of all patients with a fever and cough, regardless of travel or exposure history. This reflects the realization that there is community-spread occurring in our state.

On Friday, April 3, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services issued Health Alert 10 advising Alaskans to wear face coverings in public places -- especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. This is not a mandate. Read the full text of Health Alert 10.

Following on the heels of advice issued by the state on April 3, the Sitka Unified Command on April 17, 2020, recommended that all Sitkans wear cloth face coverings in public settings. This is because 1) COVID-19 is transmitted in respiratory droplets, and 2) You may not know if you've got it (i.e. you can be "asymptomatic"). Cloth face coverings protect others from an infection that you may not know you have. Volunteers have been sewing masks in Sitka, at no cost. You can find them on Facebook at

You can view all State Health Mandates at the Office of the Governor.

The Sitka Sound Science Center, in conjunction with social scientists at the Rand Corporation, is surveying Southeast residents to learn where they obtain information about the coronavirus pandemic, and how they feel about the risks of the disease. It's completely anonymous. The data will be used, according to research coordinator Callie Simmons, "to design policies and support services for isolated rural communities in Southeast Alaska (and) to help minimize any impact of COVID-19 on our communities as well as their cultural knowledge and heritage." Take the survey here.

General Guidelines

Adapted from the CDC Website

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus is though to spread mainly from person to person.

Here’s what the CDC says about:

Using masks to slow the spread of COVID-19

Going Out

Domestic Travel

Staying safe at home