COVID-19 Tracker (Updated 3:30 PM 5-29-20)

Sitka

Southeast

Alaska Total

Confirmed Cases

2

57

430**

Fatalities

1*

10

Recovered

1

50

367

*The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported on March 24, 2020, that a Southeast Alaskan resident had died from COVID-19 after a prolonged stay in a healthcare facility in King County, Washington. The CDC is counting this as an Alaska fatality. 

**This total does not include non-resident cases. As of 5-28-20, there are 17 non-resident cases in the state.

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. To get one, email pio@cityofsitka.org, or call 747-1899. Masks have also begun showing up on store shelves in town.

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.

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 thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Please consult with your health care provider about additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.

Clean your hands often.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Take steps to protect others.

  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Wear a cloth face mask while in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19, even if you’re not sick. Guidelines and instructions for how to make and wear a homemade cloth mask are available on the CDC website. 
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. A complete disinfection guide is available on the CDC website.

Take care of yourself

It’s normal that people may feel anxious, sad or angry as a result of the news and events unfolding. Any disaster causes anxiety, but unlike many disasters, the evolving and long-term nature of this situation has the potential to put everyone under a great deal of stress for an extended period of time. Learn how to identify and cope with stress (LINK HERE) and read more about the emotional stakes around social distancing (LINK HERE.) Thanks to Sitka Counseling for the guidance!

Resources by and for disability communities

For folks with disabilities and chronic illnesses, there is a living document started by the University of Michigan Council for Disability Concerns to share online resources. The content is crowd-sourced, and continually vetted/updated/cleaned. Click here for more information.

Information on pets

While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, the CDC believes there’s no reason to think any animals, including pets in the US, might be a sources of infection. To date, CDC has not received reports of companion animals sick with the coronavirus, and there’s no evidence they will be able to spread it to humans in the future. For more information, check out this post on the Sitka Animal Hospital Facebook page.