Travelers fill out forms before taking COVID-19 tests at the Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport. New guidelines require travelers from out of state to test 72 hours prior to travel or upon arrival. Sitka’s most recent coronavirus case was found as a result of the state’s travel testing requirements (Erin McKinstry, KCAW / June 2020)

Public health officials have released more information on Sitka’s newest coronavirus case, a Sitka resident who tested out of state before flying back to town last week. 

In an email to KCAW, public health nurse Denise Ewing said the man flew into the Rocky Gutierrez Airport on June 24. She did not specify if the man flew in on Alaska Airlines or Delta, and did not know how many hours he was in Sitka before he received his test results. She said the patient did follow state directives when he arrived to Sitka to self-isolate while he waited for results. 

As for notifying the other passengers on the flight, Ewing said that contact tracers will hand over flight information to the Alaska Section of Epidemiology. The US Centers for Disease Control will take point on contacting the passengers. Any passengers who are residents of Alaska will be called by the state Division of Public Health and told to quarantine. 

As of Monday (6-29-20), there have been 15 confirmed coronavirus cases in Sitka. So far, nine of those patients have recovered.

Q&A with Public Health Nurse Denise Ewing:  

Did the patient fly into the Rocky Gutierrez Airport or come in by private/small plane? Rocky Airport

Can you tell me if it was an Alaska Airlines or Delta flight? Sorry, do not have that information

What day did the patient fly into Sitka? June 23 would be 72 hours after getting tested (on June 20), is that the day he flew in? Flew in 6/24

How many hours/days was the patient in Sitka before his test results came back? Sorry, do not have that information

Did he follow state directives about staying isolated/at home until he received his test results? YES

As part of the contact tracing, will you notify passengers who sat next to him on the plane? Will you notify people who sat in front of him and behind him too? Or if everyone had on masks, do you need to notify passengers? Contact Tracing will provide the airplane/flight/passenger information received during tracing to the department of Epidemiology and CDC will take the flight passengers. If residents of state of Alaska then Public Health calls those people on the plane and notifies them and quarantines them.