With only 4 cases in the last seven days, Sitka is now one of only two communities in Alaska to have dropped into “moderate” alert for COVID — the second-lowest alert tier under the color-coded system adopted statewide in September. The other community in the “moderate” level  is Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, in the Aleutian chain.

The rest of the state, with 583 new cases reported on Thursday, remains at “high.”

Sitka had been in “high” alert since late July. The alert level was reduced to “substantial” on November 8, and remained there for only four days until dropping to “moderate.” To remain at “moderate” Sitka must report four or fewer infections in seven days.

The moderate tier relaxes some — but not all — of the precautions of higher alert levels. Bars and restaurants can be open, with masking and social distancing encouraged; mask are recommended in public, and in mixed gatherings where six-feet of social distancing can’t be maintained; and fully-vaccinated groups gather with no limits, while mixed groups should remain limited, and maintain six feet of social distance.

According to the state health department dashboard, Sitka is also among the most-vaccinated communities, with 75-percent of residents — including residents age 5 and up — having been fully vaccinated.