Pictured: COVID-19 screeners at Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport on June 13, 2020. Beginning on August 11, non-residents will no longer be able to receive COVID-19 tests when they arrive in Alaska. They must instead test before traveling, according to a new state mandate. But most new cases in the state are residents, including Sitka’s newest patient (KCAW/McKinstry).

Sitka health officials announced a new COVID-19 case in Sitka on Monday (8-3-20).

The man is in his forties and was tested on July 30. At the time, he did not have symptoms. He is currently isolating, according to a city press release, and state health officials will notify and isolate people who may have been in contact with him “as appropriate.”

He is the twenty-fourth Sitka resident diagnosed with COVID-19 this year. Twelve non-residents have also tested positive. According to the city, only three local cases are currently active.

The state has seen new highs in the last week, hitting over 4,000 total cases today–3,341 residents and 723 non-residents. Most of those cases remain active. The uptick is leading a few communities to hunker down again, and the state to adopt more stringent health mandates.

At the city’s unified command meeting last week, City Administrator John Leach discussed Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s recent announcement that, beginning on August 11, all nonresidents coming to Alaska must arrive with proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. And he noted another change- non-residents will no longer be able to get tested at Alaska’s airports.

“I think that’s mainly to address, well one, the safety of the community, but also we had a lot of delays in receiving the test results and they were running out of supplies,” Leach said. “So now, being able to focus on the Alaska residents with the Alaska resources, that should help relieve that a little bit.”

As far as in-state cases, public health nurse Denise Ewing said the capacity for contact tracing in Alaska has improved, to a degree.

“The state of Alaska has on-boarded 57 surge contact tracers from the National Guard, UAA and school nurses. We have doubled our nursing tracing capacity from February. Still, the rise in cases exceeds our rise in workforce,” she said.

Administrator Leach said the city would receive 10,000 masks from the state, fewer than they had initially requested due to high demand from other cities in the state. Eight thousand of those masks are designated for the public, and 2,000 will go to the Sitka School District.