Airport testing at Sitka airport to end

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - During a Sitka Unified Command meeting Wednesday, Sitka Incident Commander Craig Warren reported that Allen Marine, a contractor for the State of Alaska conducting airport testing, would no longer be testing at the airport as of January 31, as the State had opted to stop funding it.

    Warren stated there were no plans to pick up testing at the airport, but signs would be posted with information for the COVID-19 hotline phone number 907.966.8799 for SEARHC so that visitors and residents knew where to go to get tested.

    Meanwhile, Dr. Elliot Bruhl, Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Chief Medical Officer, reported continued work to create a safe environment for patients to be seen in the hospital and clinics. He said one of the biggest challenges was keeping clinics and activities staffed. SEARHC continued to provide PCR tests at the Mountain Side clinic which was open from Noon to 3:00 p.m. seven days a week.

    Sitka School District Superintendent Frank Hauser reported SSD was in the second semester of the school year. He stated nationally, there were over 7,000 pandemic related school disruptions the week of January 10, a record for the school year. He stated that school and activities were uninterrupted at SSD, and they were very proud of that. He said it was a result of a lot of hard work by staff to manage absences during the Omicron surge. He said that he had a plan in place for all staff with teaching credentials and himself to step in and cover classes if necessary.

    Hauser stated that, since the beginning of the school year, SSD had surgical masks available daily at all school doors and they now had N95 masks available. He felt masking kept downward pressure on the number of positive cases.

    Janelle Vanasse, Superintendent of Mt. Edgecumbe High School reported on the MEHS reenter campus plan and stated they had approximately 38 positive COVID-19 cases initially. She said those numbers had come down, that they had robust testing system, were testing frequently, and were isolating as SSD was that followed CDC guidance. She reported between one and four positive cases per day with no broad or uncontrolled spread. She noted the continued desire of students to be in person and doing activities. She stated they were trying to be keen to the mental and developmental needs of students.

    Due to the High Alert Level in Sitka, Sitka Unified Command recommends continued mitigation: face coverings were strongly encouraged for individuals regardless of vaccination status, maintaining physical distance of 6 feet along with following CDC guidelines CDC Guidelines.

    The Emergency Operations Center encourages residents to prepare for any local emergency by ensuring each family member has a 14- day emergency supply kit, including any necessary medications.

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