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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

March 19, 2020

Governor & Alaska public health officials give COVID-19 update; Confirmed cases in Alaska now total 12; Addresses Economic Crisis & Plans; Second confirmed case in Ketchikan; two new ones in Fairbanks; Still more tests to run in Alaska
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Ketchikan: Governor & Alaska public health officials give COVID-19 update; Confirmed cases in Alaska now total 12; Addresses Economic Crisis & Plans; Second confirmed case in Ketchikan; two new ones in Fairbanks; Still more tests to run in Alaska By MARY KAUFFMAN - During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy & public health officials announced the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska has increased to a total of 12 as of Thursday afternoon. New cases this week included cases from Fairbanks, Ketchikan, Anchorage and Seward.

During a press conference this afternoon, Governor Michael Dunleavy said as they predicted they knew, it's growing and as of today, Alaska has three news cases bringing the total number of confirmed cases up to 12 in Alaska.

The Governor said his administration will continue to adjust the protocols and will continue to do as needed. Nothing is off the table said Gov. Dunleavy.

There was contact today with the President of the United States, the Vice President, and others as well. Governor Dunleavy said there has been contact with other governors to understand what other governors are doing to address the coronavirus, and to learn more about what's happening in their states. States like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, State of Washington and California have many, many more cases that Alaska does. These states have more people that are being hospitalized, and of course some of these states have had deaths. Dunleavy said, "We're fortunate, to this day, we've had no deaths in the state of Alaska. And we're gonna do everything we can to minimize that from occurring for the people of Alaska."

The governor again said, not only do we have a health crisis but and ecomonic crisis. The economic crisis in Alaska, as in other states, is really not something that organically occurred, but it was a result of state action in the Alaska administration's effort to combat the virus.

Dunleavy said, "So when we asked bars, distilleries, movie theaters, restaurants, and more to stop having clients in locales and their establishments this of course causes an economic hardship on not just the business owner, but the employees.

He said his administration is taking this very seriously and as As a result, there's a couple the Governor will be coming out with more approaches to dealing with the economic crisis, possibly Friday.

Dunleavy said, "We have to stabilize our economy, we know that this is a government induced situation, because of the health issue. And we believe that the government needs to be involved in this particular case, because, again, this is not something that's occurred because it was a bad business deal or, or one sector was not doing well. This is widespread across all sectors and so we are going to do everything we can to stabilize the economy."

Today, the Governor said he sent a letter to the Small Business Administration Tuesday afternoon to get ahead of things. Dunleavy's team is in discussions with Small Business Administration. There have been discussions with President Trump and the Governor said the President's administration will do everything they can to get the resources needed in Alaska and across the nation to deal with the economic fallout that's occurring in other states as well.

This action will enable small businesses impacted by the coronavirus up to $2 million in economic injury disaster loan assistance.

Additionally, the Department of Commerce Community and Economic Development has several loan programs available to small businesses. These can provide working capital to those that need immediate assistance and Governor Dunleavy stated, "We're going to make sure that this happens ASAP."

The Governor said he has tasked Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, to ensure that Alaska's workers have everything they need to get through this time of difficulty. The governor said this is no fault of the working Alaskan, and he do everything his administration can to make sure that people are assisted as quickly as possible so that they can pay their bills, buy their groceries, take care of their medical bills, just as if they were working and employed.

In a news release, the Alaska Department of Labor encourages individuals whose hours of work have been impacted to file for UI benefits online at https://my.alaska.gov.  Instructions for filing benefits, the UI handbook, Frequently Asked Questions, and other resources can be located at: https://labor.alaska.gov/unemployment.

Quoting the Alaska DOL news release, due to anticipated increase in claims activity, the department asks that individuals first file a claim online and only call the UI Claim Centers if they have questions. Individuals calling the UI Claim Center may encounter long wait times and are encouraged to use the call back feature. They will be given an opportunity to select this option and receive a return call from UI staff versus waiting on hold for long periods.

During the press conference, Dunleavy said his administration has close coordination with the US Department of Labor, the Alaska delegation in DC., and working closely with the Alaska legislature and working to get red tape out of the way.

Gov. Dunleavy said, "And we need to move very quickly to help our state, our people in battling this health crisis, but as we mentioned the economic aspects as well. President Trump today signed House Resolution 6021, which benefits individuals who experienced barriers to employment due to the coronavirus, provides $500 million in emergency administrative grants to the states for unemployment insurance, provides $500 million to states that experienced at least 10% increases in unemployment and waives federal unemployment insurance requirements for work, search, and one weekwaiting period."

The governor said, "We also were able to talk directly with the President this morning, Alaska was, I asked the President to do everything you can to put a lot of this money that's coming out of Congress, and I have to thank Congress for working at an incredible rate of speed to put that money in more of a block grant approach to Alaska."


Dr. Anne Zink, Chief Medical Officer for the state of Alaska spoke during the press conference announcing three additional, new cases today - two from the Fairbanks area, and one from the Ketchikan area.

Dr. Zink said the details on their travel history is still unknown saying the two news cases from Fairbanks were people who had not traveled outside the United States in the last two weeks. "And so we're trying to establish if they were contacts to the other Fairbanks people or if these are new community cases."

To add the last update on their website, Dr. Zink said, "We had 513 tests that had been done, and that included the nine previous causes that were announced, these three additional ones will come out in the data tomorrow."

Zink said, "It's important to remember again that the test is a very important tool, it really helps a lot with containment. But if people are not symptomatic it's not nearly as useful. so it's not a good time to get the test. If you just traveled we want to watch for those symptoms."

She said, "Something that's just really hitting home, the more case investigation we do is that if you have mild symptoms if you're not feeling a little bit well, a little runny nose a little cough, even a low grade fever and you traveled up by the lower 48, or to another country you really need to stay home. And in general just if you're not feeling well, stay away from other people."

Dr. Zink said, "We're getting more and more data out about how long this virus lives on surfaces. Again afew months ago we didn't know this virus existed. We had initial estimates and information and that continues to change and updated. We try to bring you the latest and the most up to date information that we possibly can .If we had if we'd known about this virus for the last 30 years, we'd be able to have a lot more information for you but as soon as we get that information our goal is to share it with you so we can make the best decisions as individuals."

Thursday afternoon the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center learned from the Governor’s press conference there had been a second positive test result for COVID-19 in Ketchikan. This is the second positive test result for COVID-19 in Ketchikan. This second individual also had a history of travel to the lower 48. Upon experiencing symptoms of illness, the individual self-isolated and sought testing through a Ketchikan clinic. The individual is the spouse of the individual who had the first positive test result in Ketchikan. 

Ketchikan Public Health officials have made contact with this individual and will continue to monitor their condition to ensure continued self-isolation. Public Health officials will initiate a contact investigation and reach out to any person who may have come into contact with this individual. Public Health will notify and isolate additional persons as appropriate. 

The Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center wants to reassure the public that the EOC is working closely with Ketchikan Public Health to identify anyone who may be at risk for having contact with this individual. The Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center will keep the public informed of any information that is needed for community health and safety. 

Specifically, if you have traveled outside of Ketchikan, it is recommend that you self-isolate in your home for at least 14 days after your return. 

The Ketchikan airport terminal building and ferry have been thoroughly disinfected and daily cleaning continues to be a high priority. The Ketchikan airport gift shop, the snack bar, and the bar are closed until further notice. Alaska Airlines scheduled flights are still coming into Ketchikan as normal. - More...
Thursday PM - March 19, 2020


Ketchikan: AMHS Announces New Boarding Process to Avoid Disruptions in Service; Travelers to be observed for symptoms of COVID-19 before boarding - The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) announced this afternoon The AMHS is required to immediately report any illness of persons on board our vessels to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A new boarding process has been put in place to avoid disruptions to service or a situation involving passengers quarantined aboard ship.

Travelers will be observed by AMHS staff during the ticketing and boarding process. If a traveler exhibits symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or other flu-like illnesses, they will not be allowed to board and will receive a full refund. AMHS is allowing customers to cancel any existing reservations without fees or penalties from now through April 8, 2020.

The health and well-being of passengers and crew is a top priority for AMHS. Quoting a news release, in response to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the AMHS is following federal government guidance to clean and disinfect the AMHS ships and terminals. - More...
Thursday PM - March 19, 2020

Ketchikan: PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center addressing COVID-19 - To protect patients, caregivers, and their loved ones during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center announced they will restrict the number of people who enter the facility.

This is being accomplished several ways.

Effective Thursday, March 19, PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center will restrict all visitor access to the facility. Security personnel will be posted at the main entrances. Other entrances will be locked.

Individuals seeking emergency care for non-life-threatening conditions should use the Medical Center’s main entrance by the roundabout between 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. After hours, anyone seeking emergency care should use the Emergency/Ambulance entrance at Carlanna Lake Road. Security personnel will ask basic health screenings questions and check temperatures prior to entry.

Loved ones are encouraged to connect with hospitalized patients using smart phone applications, such as FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Skype, during this period of limited face-to-face support. Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis in conjunction with the patient’s care team.

PeaceHealth Medical Group is also limiting clinic access to patients with scheduled appointments and essential support person(s) only. All Individuals without appointments, experiencing fever or respiratory infection symptoms (e.g. cough), must call their healthcare provider’s office before arriving to arrange for an appropriate care setting.

PeaceHealth Ketchikan has also suspended all elective surgical procedures until further notice. - More...
Thursday PM - March 19, 2020

Salmon provide nutrients to Alaskan streambanks

Salmon provide nutrients to Alaskan streambanks
The Tuxekan soils are organic and metal-colloid rich Spodosols that have formed on alluvial terraces in the riparian zones of southeast Alaskan streams.
Photo By David D'Amore
For use with story only.


Alaska: Salmon provide nutrients to Alaskan streambanks - Adult Pacific salmon spend a great portion of their life in the ocean. But their life began along the banks of freshwater streams. Their life will end there, as well. These important steps in the lifecycle of salmon play a role in the health of streambank ecosystems.

David D'Amore and a team of scientists studied how different soils respond to the delivery of "salmon-derived nutrients." These nutrients come from adult salmon returning to their home streams, known as spawning. The study sites were forested ecosystems in Alaska's coastal temperate rainforest.

Aquatic and terrestrial scientists have studied salmon derived nutrients in these systems, but D'Amore set out to see if there was a difference in how these nutrients worked with varying soil types along the streambanks.

"The fate of salmon-derived nutrients will be influenced by the soil type in the riparian zone," says D'Amore. "These soils play an important role in the transfer of material and energy between terrestrial and aquatic environments. The nutrients provided by salmon can support microbial and plant growth. In turn, these organisms support the salmon and other animals that rely on food from the streambank ecosystems."

"Soils along the streams resulted from a series of alluvial deposits after the glaciers retreated," says D'Amore. "Two alluvial deposits were formed during the last ice age, resulting in two different soils. An older terrace formed Spodosols, rich in organic matter. They also have highly enriched organic-metal complexes. But there are also younger floodplain soils with little development. These two soil types offer a stark contrast in attributes such as acidity, cation exchange capacity, and organic matter - all which affect how well nutrients are absorbed and held in soil."

This difference in how the two soil types worked with salmon-derived nutrients added the novel twist for the research done by D'Amore's team.

Salmon begin life along the banks of streams that flow past the alluvial soils of the coastal rainforests. Once the salmon emerge from their egg nests, they are nurtured by the nutrients that support the food web in the stream. There, they are also protected by the woody debris of large conifers that fall into the stream. Once they are large enough to survive in the ocean, the salmon depart the freshwaters to spend 2-4 years in the nutrient-rich waters of the North Pacific. The adult salmon then return to their natal streams from the ocean to close the life cycle loop. - More...
Thursday PM - March 19, 2020



Analysis: New federal sick leave law – who's eligible, who's not and how many weeks do you get By ELIZABETH C. TIPPETT - On March 18, President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law.

The legislation is an emergency intervention to provide paid leave and other support to millions of workers sidelined by school closures, quarantines and caregiving.

An obvious question you’re probably wondering is, “How will it affect me?”

The bad news is that the law does not provide blanket coverage for all workers. Instead, it’s a confusing mess – legislative Swiss cheese, full of exceptions and gradations that affect whether you are covered, for how long and how much pay you can expect to receive.

I study employment law and have combed through the bill to make sense of it. The law also provides emergency funding for unemployment insurance and subsidizes some employer health care premiums, but my focus here is on the core elements pertaining to sick and family leave.

Here’s what I learned.

Small, medium or large

To figure out whether you are covered, the first thing you’ll need to answer is how many people work at your company.

If your employer has 500 or more workers, it is excluded from the new law. Instead, workers at those companies will need to rely on any remaining sick leave benefits available under company policy or state law.

Several states, including New York, California and Washington, are also considering emergency legislation tied to the coronavirus pandemic and may offer some relief for workers at these bigger companies. These workers can also make use of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides for unpaid leave if the employee or a family member falls seriously ill.

In addition, some large employers have made new accommodations for their workers. Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, for example, has extended its sick leave benefits for hourly workers. And coffee chain Starbucks expanded its existing sick leave policy to provide paid leave of up to 26 weeks if an employee contracts COVID-19 and is unable to return to work.

If your company employs fewer than 500 people, you should be covered by the new law. But there’s another exception: Businesses with fewer than 50 employees can make use of a hardship exemption if providing leave might put them out of business. - More...
Thursday PM - March 19, 2020



JOE GUZZARDI: BASEBALL SUSPENDED, FANS WON’T MISS LACKLUSTER GAME - I may be in the minority, but Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend the season until at least mid-May doesn’t bother me.

Long ago, as the game moved further away from the baseball I grew up with and loved, I became disenchanted with its direction. My list of gripes is long, but I’ll name just one of my dozens of complaints – the nonsensical homerun explosion. In 2019, batters hit a record 6,776 homers, 20 percent more than any season in baseball’s history. Boring!

When asked to identify baseball’s biggest problem, Pete Rose said that the proliferation of home runs tops his list. Rose said that in today’s game, every batter represents a home run threat. “You get tired of watching the highlights … every hit is a home run,” Rose said.

But for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, an owner-friendly lawyer and baseball’s chief bean counter, the more homers, the merrier. Manfred admitted that juiced baseballs, which he approved and that contribute to the tedious home run burst, should be examined and reconsidered. Time will tell if Manfred is serious about returning to the old ball, but his previous actions prove that Manfred is the traditional game’s avowed enemy.

Dinosaur fans should brace themselves for baseball to soon become more unrecognizable. Money-mad Manfred, not content with baseball’s status as a $10 billion industry, wants to expand from 30 to 32 franchises, and to open up the playoffs to more teams. Manfred is greedily eying $12 billion as his goal.

Expansion candidates include Montreal, where baseball previously failed; Austin, Texas, which would have baseball’s smallest television market; and Mexico City, where Manfred is willing to dismiss economic, political and security negatives to boost merchandise sales. Also under consideration are Orlando (even though baseball has flopped colossally in Miami and Tampa Bay) and Vancouver.

Wherever the expansion teams land, and Manfred’s growth plan is an inevitable reality, they’ll be noncompetitive. Remember the original New York Mets, the Houston Colt .45s and the Seattle Pilots, all doormats for established teams.- More...
Thursday PM - March 19, 2020

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Political Cartoon: Shopping chaos
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Ketchikan Borough Mayor's Message By Rodney Dial - As many of you know, yesterday a confirmed COVID-19 case was discovered in Ketchikan. As a result, several individuals who had contact with this individual, including myself, are now in a 14-day quarantine. Many more are choosing to self- isolate at home out of an abundance of caution.

As such, many people in our community will be in quarantine until early April. Based upon available information regarding this virus, it is very possible that others in our community had/have the virus before the confirmed case was known. We knew this was coming and there will be few, if any, locations in the world that will not be impacted before this is over. We are also likely to see additional cases in Ketchikan in the future.

Ketchikan citizens should take comfort in the following: - More...
Thursday PM - March 19, 2020

jpg Opinion

Through it all Alaskans prevail together By Governor Michael Dunleavy - As our nation and the world experiences the life-altering impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to take a moment to speak to you directly. If you’ve followed our many press conferences this week, you know that Alaska is rapidly preparing for an outbreak, and that an emergency was declared prior to our first confirmed case.

Now that the inevitable first case has occurred, our schools are safely closed, testing requirements have been liberalized, and steps have been taken to protect our seniors. Visitation has been suspended or limited at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, Alaska Military Youth Academy, Department of Corrections’ facilities, and the Alaska Pioneer Homes.

But ultimately, we know that this virus will spread. For America, experts believe the worst is yet to come. While we will undoubtedly slow the rate of infection with our diligent mitigation efforts, many Alaskans will be infected.

Most will recover, but others, despite our best preventive efforts, will suffer life-threatening complications. It’s vital to acknowledge that each of our decisions in the coming days and weeks will directly affect these numbers. Follow Dr. Zink’s guidelines, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and do not put vulnerable populations at risk. These small, albeit inconvenient changes, will save lives.

As I’ve said many times this week, it’s equally important that we do not live in fear of the virus. Our response should be steady and practical. I’m confident Alaskans will approach this challenge as we’ve always done – with determination, ingenuity, and compassion for our neighbors. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 17, 2020

jpg Opinion

Coronavirus Update By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Last week, Alaska had its first case of the Coronavirus: a cargo pilot traveling through Anchorage. With the amount of travel that Alaskans have done over the last month, it is likely that there are more untested and unverified cases already here.

There is certainly no need to panic, but let’s err on the side of caution. One thing you can do is stay informed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website updated multiple times per day. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has a webpage dedicated to the virus in Alaska that is updated daily.

You know the drill - wash your hands! If you are able, please stay home, especially if you are showing any symptoms. Do not unnecessarily overstock toiletries, and be willing to share or donate if you bought in bulk. Practicing ‘social distancing’ will slow down the spread of the virus, putting less immediate pressures on our health care system.

Our local government officials are doing great things to help contain the virus and protect the people. School Districts across the state have extended spring break an additional week until March 27th. The City and Borough of Wrangell closed the Nolan Center (including the Theater), the Public Library, and the Swimming Pool and Recreation Center for at least two weeks. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 17, 2020

jpg Opinion

The Healing Power of Soldier’s Heart By Major Andrew Greenstreet, Alaska State Troopers - When a toddler went missing one evening nearly 30 years ago, the Sitka Police Department was called to canvas the neighborhood with the family and volunteers. On scene, a police officer entered the family’s home to comb every closet, every corner; and, soon he found her. She’d walked across a Jacuzzi soft cover, fallen in, and drowned. 

An ambulance whisked the little girl away; but of course, it was too late. Then, abruptly, everyone left.

The 24-year-old officer found himself in his patrol car, alone with the horror he’d just experienced. He thought about his daughter asleep in her bed at home – she was the same age as the child in the Jacuzzi. Later that night, when his shift was over, he would go home and hug his daughter. Everything would be good then, right? In the meantime, his therapy would be finding a dark, winding road and spending 10 or 15 minutes driving, just driving, until he could put on a good face and go back to work.  - More...
Tuesday AM - March 17, 2020

jpg Opinion

Thank You By Michele Zerbetz Scott - On behalf of the Museum Advisory Board and the museum staff, thank you to the community of Ketchikan for your tremendous response to the exhibit, “Into the Wind”, at the opening reception March 6. Your enthusiasm for and recognition of the importance of aviation to our town is greatly appreciated.

Our thanks to the Kayhi Culinary class, led by Cameo McRoberts, who provided the delicious food. Their careful research helped us eat our way through the years of airplane food service. It was a delicious reminder of days gone by of feasting on shrimp salad and filet of beef.

Thank you to the museum staff who brought together this piece of our history and all the volunteers who contributed their expertise and valued historic items. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 17, 2020

jpg Opinion

The Hoarding Public By Donald Moskowitz - The coronavirus outbreak has panicked people into hoarding food, paper products and sanitizing compounds. Consumers across the country are conducting binge purchases of these products and most supermarkets are reporting bare shelves and difficulty in restocking these products. The binging activity is very un-American.

There is no need for people to be stocking up on food and other supplies that will last for a year or more. It is reported consumers are purchasing large quantities of toilet paper. Maybe they should be eating less so they can cut back on their defecation and use less toilet paper. 

My wife and I shopped twice last week and we went through the express line of 12 items or less both times, which is typical food shopping for us. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 17, 2020

jpg Opinion

Reform? Reshape? Really....? By Percy Frisby - In regard to the recent press conference with Governor Dunleavy and Commissioner of DOT John Mackinnon... - More...
Monday PM - March 09, 2020

jpg Opinion

The House Passes a Budget By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Earlier last week, the Alaska House of Representative passed the operating budget. It took the House 43 days of session to pass the budget, which is the fastest we have passed one since 1993. I am proud with how quickly, efficiently, and cooperatively we worked to get it done. - More...
Monday PM - March 09, 2020

jpg Opinion

Seniors Park Your Money Now By David G Hanger - Rick Santelli was his usual obnoxious self when on CNBC he suggested exposing everyone to the coronavirus, so that the effect on the markets and the economy would be short-lived; and he did in hindsight apologize for his bluntness; but the very clear point he has made is that the impact on the markets and on the economy is unpredictable and apparently long-lasting. The trend on the markets is down, and there is no identifiable bottom currently discernible. - More...
Monday PM - March 09, 2020

jpg Opinion

House Bill 62 By John Suter - The state should put in HB 62.  HB 62 is the bill that says when a person calls in another person to the authorities and says that person has guns and you think that person could be a danger to society, then the authorities come in and takes those guns away.  - More...
Monday PM - March 09, 2020

jpg Opinion

Reject recall, Keep Gov. Dunleavy By Cynthia Henry- We need your help. Alaska is facing an important political issue that could change the course of our great state. I have followed state and local government in Alaska for more than four decades and have never been more dismayed by the actions of some political activists who didn’t get their way. We need the help of good men and women. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 03, 2020

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Alaska Car Rental - Ketchikan, Alaska

Rainforest Ridge Condos For Sale - Ketchikan, Alaska - Call for details

Community Connections - Ketchikan, Alaska

Great Western Service - Residential Rentals - Ketchikan, Alaska

Southeast Water Services - Bulk Water Delivery - Ketchikan, Alaska

Madison Lumber & Hardware - Ketchikan, Alaska (TrueValue)

Otter Creek Partners, Registered Investment Advisor - Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan Humane Society

AAA Moving & Storage - Allied Alaska - Ketchikan, Alaska

The Local Paper - Ketchikan, Alaska The Local Paper - Ketchikan, Alaska The Home Office - The Local Paper; Ketchikan, Alaska

The Local Paper is
available online.
Click here for this week's printed edition (PDF)

KRBD - Ketchikan FM Community Radio for Southern Southeast Alaska

Shop Local & Advertise Local with SitNews - Ketchikan, Alaska

Wind & Water Dive Shop - Ketchikan, Alaska Wind & Water 2020 Spring Classes - Ketchikan, Alaska