EOC Apologizes to Local Bars; Community Risk Level Increased to High; 2nd Community Death; Free Drive-Up Testing
By MARY KAUFFMAN
February 05, 2021
In an apologetic press release issued Wednesday, the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center wrote that was it was not the intent of the EOC to draw negative attention to the five local bar establishments or to imply that they had done anything wrong. Quoting the news release, "The EOC is very aware of the hardships that these businesses have faced the past year, and we sincerely apologize for any perception that the EOC was calling out businesses in a negative light. In fact, the EOC is very pleased with the manner in which these establishments have worked with the EOC and Public Health, and have implemented employee testing protocols and mitigation plans for their businesses."
When a positive case of COVID-19 is identified, Public Health works with the positive individual to identify anyone with whom that person has been in close contact to instruct them to quarantine and seek testing. The goal is to identify close contacts within 48 hours of the positive test result. If the period of time spans longer than 48 hours, there is a greater risk that people carrying the virus can unknowingly spread it within the community. Therefore, every attempt is made by Public Health to notify close contacts within that 48 hour time-frame.
In many of the cases identified last week, unfortunately, the nature of the operation and the length of potential interaction in those local business locations led to the difficulty in the contact tracing. The close contacts could not be identified by Public Health through the normal investigation, and an announcement of the commonly attended local bar businesses became necessary. According to the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center, it was necessary to announce the risk to the public so that people could self-identify and proceed with quarantine and testing. Four of the five named businesses were contacted by Public Health prior to last week's announcement, and messages were left for the fifth business.
The positive case contacts associated with community spread were identified by the EOC last week at being at one or more of the following businesses on one or more days between January 20 through January 28:
Steven Kantor, president of Ketchikan Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant, & Retailers Association (CHARR), shared information regarding CHARR’s safe workplace practices with the Ketchikan Emergency Operation Center. According to an EOC news release, the standards are in line with the State of Alaska Reopening Plan and the Alaska CHARR guidelines. Those practices include:
In a prepared statement, Steven Kantor, President, Ketchikan CHARR wrote, “Ketchikan CHARR continues to urge our businesses to follow the hospitality guidelines for best safety practices. By staying vigilant and monitoring how we conduct business, we can move forward with serving the community and keeping our employees and customers safe. We extend a heartfelt gratitude to all of our patrons and citizens for helping to keep our workplace safe.”
Kantor is working with the Ketchikan businesses to promote employee testing and VIDEO-conscious mitigation efforts. Similarly, other business managers have informed the EOC of their employee testing, precautionary measures, and customer outreach. The EOC wrote in a news release they commend these businesses for their mindful implementation of safe practices and thanked them for their dedication to the community.
It will not come as news to social media subscribers, there are photos and video postings available on various social media platforms - such as FaceBook - that demonstrate that the safe practices as outline above by CHARR such as social distancing and the wearing of masks are not consistently in practice in various local bars.
Both the Ketchikan EOC and Ketchikan CHARR acknowledge that with better planning and communication, the events of last week could have been processed more effectively rather than the public release identifying bars of concern in the community spread. Quoting the EOC news release, the EOC and CHARR will continue to work together for improvements for the health and safety of our community.
Even with proper protocols in place, there is still a risk that COVID-19 can be contracted. The EOC and Ketchikan CHARR urge all businesses and citizens to continue to follow the guidance for COVID precautions. If everyone does their part to follow these safety measures, local businesses can remain open and the economy can continue to improve.
2nd Death In Ketchikan Attributed to COVID-19
On February 2nd, the Ketchikan EOC received official notification from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) the recent death of a Ketchikan resident to COVID-19. Sadly, this is the second death attributed to COVID-19 in Ketchikan.
This individual had been previously admitted in the Ketchikan COVID-19 unit at PeaceHealth Ketchikan. While announcements were made by other community sources regarding the passing of this individual, the EOC waited to announce the death until official notification was received by DHSS.
Members of the Ketchikan EOC extend their sincere condolences to the family and friends.
Ketchikan Borough Mayor Rodney Dial expressed his sympathy, "I was saddened to hear of the passing of another member of Ketchikan due to the pandemic. As a close community, I know we all share in the loss and will have the family in our thoughts. Please pray for the family for comfort and strength and protection for our island."
In a statement of condolence, City of Ketchikan Mayor Bob Sivertsen said, “My heart goes out to the family and friends of this individual as they grieve the passing of this loved one. This truly is a loss for our entire community.”
Free drive-up COVID-19 testing
Along with the announcement of the community spread, the EOC extended the days and hours of the free drive-up COVID-19 testing. Quoting a news release, the EOC is pleased to see that the community took advantage of the available testing the days following the announcement, and that people were self-identifying as having potentially been exposed and were self-quarantining.
Community Risk Level Increased to LEVEL 3 - HIGH
Yesterday, the Ketchikan Emergency Operation Center in response to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the past couple of weeks, and because of a concerning increase in community spread cases, the community risk level was increased to Level 3 - HIGH.
The following mitigation measures are STRONGLY recommended by the Ketchikan EOC during Risk Level 3 – High:
On January 20th, the community risk level was reduced to LOW and again increased to Level 2 - MODERATE on January 29th due to an increase in positive cases. From Feb. 1st-5th, there have been 24 new positive cases identified.
As of February 5th, Ketchikan's total cumulative Covid-19 case count, including travelers, is 337. The number of positive cases of individuals residing or staying in Ketchikan is 319. Of the 319 cases, there are 26 active, 2 deceased, and 291 recovered.
COVID-19 vaccine appointments
Public Health has requested assistance with getting the word out about available vaccine clinics for Alaskans age 65 and over next week.
NEW COVID-19 vaccine appointments are still available for next week for Alaskans age 65 and older or health care workers. Here’s how to schedule an appointment:
A list of local providers offering the COVID-19 vaccine is available at http://covidvax.alaska.gov
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