Sitka reported 46 new coronavirus cases in the last five days, according to data from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. 

The new cases were reported from Wednesday through Sunday (1-2-22). That means over the last week, 74 new coronavirus cases have been reported locally. It’s the highest number of cases Sitka has reported in one week since the first week of August. 

When the Sitka Unified Command met last week (12-29-21), Fire Chief Craig Warren said that two people were hospitalized with the coronavirus at Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center. He urged Sitkans to remain vigilant, even with early data showing that omicron symptoms may be less severe than those of previous variants. 

“It is most likely the omicron [variant] that everybody keeps hearing about. We do not have confirmation of that here in Sitka,” Warren said.

“It is quite a bit more transmissible than the previous versions of COVID-19,” Warren continued. “The good news, if there is a silver lining, is that people aren’t getting quite as sick. But I want to caution that, with the numbers going up, we could still see higher hospitalizations just because of the sheer number of patients.”

Public Health Nurse Denise Ewing said her department was still waiting on sequencing results to confirm whether the omicron variant is driving the newest surge of cases in Sitka. Ewing continued to push for vaccines, testing and masking. And since early studies show omicron is highly transmissible, Ewing said to wear an N95, KN95 or surgical mask instead of a cloth mask, if possible. 

“We can fight omicron,” Ewing said. “We have the tools to do it.” 

To date, Sitka has reported 1397 coronavirus cases (including residents and non-residents), 29 hospitalizations and six deaths, according to state data. While Sitka remains in high alert, the community’s mask mandate is in effect in most indoor spaces.