This sign is posted on the door of the Petersburg Post Office. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)

Oct. 29, 2020 KFSK’s Special Q and A COVID Call-in about recent cases

Participants Answering questions:

Petersburg Borough’s Emergency Operations Center—Karl Hagerman, EOC Incident Commander

Public Health Nursing—Public Health Nurse, Erin Michael

Petersburg School District—Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter, High/Middle Schools Principal, Rick Dormer, Elementary Principal, Heather Conn, Activities Director, Jaime Cabral

Petersburg Medical Center—Liz Bacom Infection Prevention Manager, CEO Phil Hofstetter

*Q: How is it going at the school district?

A: We are back in person minus some 5th graders and some other close contacts to the positive case.

Q: How is it going with contact tracing?

A: It has been a very busy week at Public Health. Every week is busy with calls around the state. This week has been particularly busy here in town. Reaching out to everyone with a positive case and then finding out who their close contacts are and then getting a hold of those people.

*Q: 5th graders are supposed to be quarantining? Parents are wondering how exactly that works? Aren’t parents and siblings close contacts of a 5th grader?

A: We don’t require those that are contact- of-a-contact to quarantine. So family members of 5th graders are not close contacts of a positive case, they are contacts-of-a contact. So, only the 5th grader needs to quarantine because they were in contact with the positive case for 15 minutes.

*Q: Why is the entire 5th grade supposed to quarantine? Why are they all close contacts?

A: If the whole entire 5th grade class was in contact with the positive case then it is required for them to quarantine. It’s not a bad idea to get the 5th graders tested but it’s not a requirement. If you have symptoms it’s very highly recommended that you get tested.

*Q: What is the recommendations for siblings of the 5th graders?

A: They are not considered a close contact. The siblings can continue their normal activity. If they can limit their contact with their 5th grade siblings then that would decrease their risk of being exposed.

*Q: How are parents supposed to keep their kids separate for the next two weeks?

A: Ideally, you want to have them sleeping in a separate bedrooms and using a separate bathrooms. If not then wipe down surfaces after use. It’s challenging for kids at times.

*Q: What was the timeline for reporting the case? Is it a possibility that this case was exposed here in Petersburg? Was it travel related to Juneau?

A: For any case, there is no definitive answer of how people are getting infected. There are so many factors whether or not someone catches COVID. We can’t positively say that they contracted it when they were traveling out of town.

*Q: What is the flow of information? When and how does Public Health, the hospital, the school, the patient get notified? How is HIPAA followed in that process?

A: From the EOC perspective, we receive information from both the medical center and the school. It’s basic information. If a parent wants to divulge their health information. It’s only the information for us to issue a press release for the betterment of public health. Because of HIPAA laws, the EOC is prevented from even asking for certain information. That is why the information is often general in nature. We are required to be pretty careful about the information we put out. From PMC, the lab gets the results first. It’s a “reportable” infection, which means that it is mandatory that the state is informed of the results. We notify the Public Health office here as well as the State Epidemiology office. HIPAA is need-to-know information so only physicians and medical providers are included. It’s a pretty small loop of people, it’s privileged information. If the school is involved, Public Health notifies the school and works with the schools on contact tracing. If a patient or parent wants to share that information that is their business. From the school perspective, Public Health notifies us about the case and we decide who needs to quarantine. The actual process for the interviews and that sort of thing are handled by the public health.

*Q: What does Public Health and Schools work together?

A: Public Health does rely on the schools. The schools can provide us with contact information about parents but it’s very general. We take the confidentiality very seriously with positive cases and their close contacts. It’s a need-to-know basis. This is not punitive, we’re just trying to keep the schools open. If you get a call, it’s really important that you answer the call.

*Q: Why is the school acting on information before the public health does contact tracing?

A: The initial action we made about the 5th grade, we started by looking at the one pod specifically, they would automatically be on a two week quarantine. Then we thought about any overlap with other pods. It was a pretty easy decision to make knowing that there was some overlap at recess. A lot of school districts do a temporary closure to give Public Health time to do contact tracing. Public Health is overwhelmed with cases all over the state

*Q: Close contact is a cumulative 15 minutes in a 24 hour period within 6 feet. How was it determined that all 5th graders be a close contact?

A: In the case of the schools, it can be a little more challenging. It’s harder with kids. Adults can tell us who they were around and for how long.  With the school setting you have a mixing of kids during recess when it’s hard to identify how long kids were in contact with each other. When they’re running around on the playground it’s challenging to distinguish that. For the ones sitting in a classroom near the positive case, they got a call for being a close contact. The other 5th graders should still quarantine for 14 days. They can COVID test but it’s not required. The important part of a 5th grade students is to watch for those symptoms. If they are exhibiting any symptoms, then they should call the hotline. The symptoms can be very, very mild so watch for subtle changes.

*Q: If there are three separate pods in the 5th grade, why is there overlap with all of the students?

A: At this point for this particular situation, we are acting in an overly cautious manner taking the whole group. We are learning our way through this as far as doing a two day closure and then a two week quarantine. There’s sort of that 30 minute overlap with recess when they’re running around with each other. We’ve allowed for some overlapping of the pods in the green status.

*Q: Have you seen any test results for other students who were on this out of town trip for a non-school activity?

A: We haven’t seen any positive results. We aren’t going to say who was tested because that is privileged information. We want to get all 5th graders tested right around day 5 to 7 because that’s when the virus could start showing up. There are a number of what-if scenarios as to how people test positive. There are likely a number of people walking around who are positive but they don’t have any symptoms and will never get tested.

*Q:  Is Halloween trick or treating still a go?

A: The EOC is still supporting the Halloween holiday. We are encouraging outdoor get-togethers as much as possible. Don’t have indoor gatherings. We are strongly encouraging that the kids go trick or treating with their family units and not mixing with other households. There is a larger concern with indoor, adult gatherings at this point. There are six active cases in Petersburg right now and we don’t want the situation to get worse. The cases do impact the schools, childcare, businesses, and the hospital.

*Q: How many cases does it take before EOC starts shutting things down?

A: If the positive cases are cooperating with contact tracing and quarantining and doing what they’re supposed to be doing then that affects EOC’s decision. If there are positive cases where people won’t quarantine and won’t mask then that’s when we would come out with advice to start closing things down. It’s just really important that people realize we’ve had a really good run in Petersburg of no cases but this might be the end of that. If we go about our business like nothing is going on it could get a lot worse.

*Q: Yesterday, the Governor reiterated that masking should be a local decision. Is there a masking mandate being considered?

A:  We are drafting a masking health alert strongly encouraging masking. It would strongly encourage Petersburg residents who are indoors with others outside of their households to wear face coverings. It’s not a mandate. We are hoping people will follow that recommendation. Hopefully we’ll see an increase in masking. If we start talking about a mandate then we start arguing. I don’t want to start the civil rights argument. It probably is time for local authorities to jump on the bandwagon.

*Q: I have not been contacted about testing my 5th grader. When and how should my 5th grader get tested?

A: We encourage 5th graders who haven’t been contacted to get tested by SEARHC on Saturday or Sunday to get tested there. That would put them in the right time frame for 5 to 7 days after contact with the positive case. There is no appointment needed. However, if the student has symptoms the parent should contact the PMC COVID hotline.

*Q: How is school going now at the grade school? A: Tuesday was very calm and collected and I feel like the students are doing well. During the two day closure, the classrooms for the 5th graders were deep cleaned and those rooms are still shut down because the chemicals are stronger than other cleaners used in other classrooms. The elementary school is working on some flyers for parents to know what to do if the school is shutdown. We were a few days late on getting it out before this last closure. But these fliers will tell parents what a children’s day will look like if they are in quarantine. Red Ribbon and Spirit Week is being postponed for the 5th graders.

*Q: What is the latest with high school activities?

A: We are canceling our high school volleyball trip to Craig this weekend and will re-evaluate it next week. We took two days off of all activities. A lot of changes like an up and down roller coaster.

*Q: What about the longer term outlook for activities for high schools?

A: Right now it looks like there is a tentative basketball start on January 4,2021. Our spring activities look like they will start March 22. There is a state board meeting on November 9th and the calendar will be modified then.

*Q: Will there be decisions on state championships later this year?

A: I think they’ll make their decisions on the dates and what the formats will look like. Some of them might be modified events, how many fans might be allowed, and which sites might be able to host such events.

*Q: How can parents quickly find out what’s the latest information from the schools?

A:  We are still testing out our One Call system. It sends mass emails, make phone calls, and send mass texts. The trick with the text in One Call is that it only allows for so many words so that’s something that we’re trying to think through. Let the schools know if you are not receiving the One Call messages. It’s really important in making immediate contact with families. We also use our bulletin list for each school, use social media, as well as the school district’s website.

*Q: Who is on the borough’s Incident Management Team and what are their qualifications?

A: As far as qualifications, we all kind of got thrown into this and it was a step up and help out situation for most of us. I (Karl) don’t have any medical background but I do have background in training for the incident command system and that’s what’s called for in a lot of this response. In the unified command structure which means that Karl Hagerman and PMC CEO Phil Hofstetter are both Unified Commanders. Phil runs things for the hospital and Karl runs things for the borough side. The Incident Commander is the top position. Under that position are the Public Information Officer, Tara Alcock who is also the Librarian, the Safety Officer, Ryan Welde who is also the Fire Marshall for the borough, the Health Officer who is Dr. Mark Tucillo, the Liaison Officer, Steve Giesbrecht who is also the Borough Manager. There is an operation section, a planning section, a logistics section and a finance section. There are also complimentary positions and branches under the hospital’s IC system. For the borough, the Operating Section Chief is Sandy Dixon who is also the borough’s Emergency Coordinator, the Planning Section Chief is Liz Cabrera who is also the Community Development Director, and Logistics Section Chief is Chris Cotta our Public Works Director, and the Finance Section Chief is Jody Tow who is the borough’s Finance Director. There are positions under each one of those sections chiefs which is quite a long list. We all went through the ICS training with FEMA and that pretty much puts us in a position to respond to this emergency and other emergencies in Petersburg.

*Q What HIPAA rights do under age students and parents have when submitting a COVID test? (HIPAA is a privacy law in place)

A: If a minor is doing a test if it is an infectious disease like COVID. It’s protected information and on a need-to-know basis. It is protected information. It’s a need to know basis. Because it is a “reportable” infection, COVID cases must be reported to the state. It is a mandatory report and it does not require a parent’s approval to report to the state. It’s under Alaska Statutes.

*Q: Hospital Incident Command?

A: There is a lot of good communication and cooperation between agencies. It helps to approach it from a community wellness perspective. Our goal in all of this is to keep the schools and businesses open. It’s not going to go away but we can do our best to keep things open. It’s not going to end when a vaccine comes out because people won’t be excited about getting the vaccine right away. We just need to get in a mindset of how can we move forward? Be kind, be positive but test negative.

*Q: Flu Shots?

A: Remind everyone to get a flu shot this fall. It reduces the incidents of other infections circulating in the community. Thanks to everyone to make sure we are not seeing a huge amount of cases. It takes the whole community to take measures for protecting our community. The school, hospital, and the incident command for all of their hard work. Everybody is doing a spectacular job.

*Q: Are you seeing any particular COVID symptoms manifesting here in Petersburg?

A: We are seeing more people across the state that have symptoms but nothing particular here in town. There is cough, fever, body aches, and other symptoms happening across the state.

*Q:  Anything else from the schools?

A: Recognizing that parents are being great about this, they are asking good questions and following rules. Remind everybody that we want to be compassionate to students and families. We should realize that it could happen to anybody. It’s hard to be the center of these things. There is no judgement. Please show compassion for students who have been a part of this and their families. It is our job to help support the mission of public health so that we can keep the schools open. Food Services are gathering information to get quarantine weekly food boxes for 5th graders who want it. Parents should call the office or email the school.

*Q:  High School and Middle School?

A: The high school students and middle school students did really well with the two-day closure. Check student school emails for future information. Proud of the kids and staff to be so calm and smooth.

*Q: Anything else Phil Hofstetter, CEO of PMC?

A: There are things that we are learning everyday about the virus but there are some consistencies: keeping our physical distance, wearing masks do help, and wearing them indoors are really important things. We have a razor thin staff at the hospital. COVID cases could take out a whole department or some of our front line staff and we want to make sure that we are able to stay open. We want to make sure we are able to see patients appropriately. The community can help make a strong effort on that. I’m not necessarily supporting a mandate but encourage the community to take those measures.

Oct. 23, 2020 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

Petersburg Borough’s Emergency Operations Center—Karl Hagerman, EOC Incident Commander

–One new positive case announced yesterday (Thursday night). The individual came in on the airline, tested upon arrival and got the positive results a few days later. The person has been following the state protocols for quarantining between arrival and the test results. They were not circulating in the community. The risk to the community is considered to be low.

–The previous three other cases in town (from a few weeks ago) are considered recovered by Public Health.

–We are encouraging intrastate travelers to test at the airport as well. That is allowed and we are encouraging people to do that.

–Things are moving pretty smoothly up at the airport.

–We are still susceptible for the virus to come into the community and being spread. It is still important to continue social distancing, masking, hygiene are all still very important.…trying to minimize contact with others as much as possible.

–The Oktoberfest Art Share is still going on tomorrow. Organizers did a great job putting a plan together, which was approved by EOC. There will be a smaller event than normal with fewer vendors, a few food vendors with items to go. There will also be some live entertainment outdoors. Social distancing is requested for that as well. The plan put together for this was really good and I hope that everyone respects the plan and follow all the protocols that organizers put in place.

–The community risk plan that the EOC is developing is coming along. PMC is helping to develop a dashboard that will be available on the website. It’s coming together mirroring Ketchikan’s program and dashboard. It’s been quite a bit of work because we’re trying to fit it in the middle of everything else that is going on. We are finalizing the parameters and thresholds for moving up and down for risk levels and where they should be when. The program will pass through the EOC team first for review and then for the assembly and public to review.

–The EOC team continues to meet every week.

–For Halloween, follow health normal COVID health protocols.

–One of the portable restrooms trailers ordered with Cares Act funding has arrived in town. The second one is on its way. The plan is to put them in a few different locations. One location is in the municipal building parking lot and another could be in a harbor area. They might not be put out until spring time because of the weather.

–The Parks and Rec Department is putting together the Halloween Hustle this week. Hopefully, that will be a nice event for the kids on Halloween. The Chamber of Commerce is organizing businesses for trick or treating downtown to help spread the event out.

Petersburg Medical Center—Emergency Preparedness Julie Walker, CEO Phil Hofstetter, Infection Prevention Manager Liz Bacom

–4,756 tests have been completed, 43 tests are pending, one active case, 18 recovered cases. 10.3 percent of the population has been tested in the 14 days. 43.9 percent of the population has been tested overall.

–A little bit of good news: PMC was able to receive some Alaska Community Foundation funds. We did not have to officially use the Cares Act funding from the borough. (Some $600,000 will go back to the borough)

–PMC just found out that DHHS reversed their decision for provider relief funds. PMC isn’t going to have to pay money back; we are able to allocate those funds to revenue lost to the pandemic. One of the reasons they were able to get the funding back was from support from the Alaska Delegation in addition to ASHNA, the Alaska State Hospital Nursing Home Association.

–We are maintaining a yellow status at PMC, which is the lowest level that will happen during the pandemic.

–I feel like we are still very fortunate here even though we had a small cluster recently. If you look to the north, which is more advanced in the winter months, you are seeing an incredible amount of COVID cases in some of the rural areas. There is also an uptick in COVID occupied ICU beds statewide. These are significant things to watch and monitor.

–The drive through flu shot clinic saw over 700 vaccines in about 400 cars. PMC partnered with the borough, Public Health, and the School District. We were overwhelmed with the turnout. It was more than we thought and there was some vehicle back up but it was really successful. The online registration was successful with about 500 people preregister for the event. There was also a mobile team going around vaccinating 80 people at the same time as the drive through clinic. The mobile team went up to the Mountain View Manor assisted living facility and to a few home bound individuals so that was a successful exercise. If people still want to get the flu shot, there will be another free drive through flu shot clinic on Saturday, Nov. 7. Starting at 9 a.m. at the screening tent near the hospital. Request reservations to be made. Ask people to wear a mask. They will be providing flu vaccines for people 6 months and up. If people just show up there will be a wait. They are giving people who pre-register the priority. Wear loose clothing so nurses can access arms for adults and legs for babies.

–There is a shortage of the high dose vaccine for people 65 and older. PMC has ordered for more but they are not sure how much they will get. People over 65 can also get the standard dose as well.

–PMC is trying to conserve their rapid test cartridges. The send-out COVID tests are not a problem, we can send those out as much as we need to. We are trying to keep a close tab on the rapid tests. We are asking the community to use the regular tests if they can. There is a lot of pressure to get rapid tests but they are not always necessary. We are expending more of those cartridges then we are able to get in.

–The CDC is coming out with new guidelines on what is considered to be a close contact. They are changing it to add up the time that you are in contact with someone. So, instead of 15 consecutive minutes it is 15 minutes total in a 24 hour period. The more information that they have is that the aerosol droplets can be suspended in the air. They are adding the time together to equal 15 minutes.

–Cases in the state are over 200 new cases daily for over a week. The Anchorage hospital is getting a lot of hospitalizations from the rural areas. The Anchorage hospitals are being impacted. That is one of the big reasons why we are pushing the flu shot.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter

–Ending the fourth week of in-person education, which we are very excited about and it is great for the students. There are some students remoting in but most of the students are in person.

–Interesting news for masking requirement for activities. For a short time, the state (ASAA) required masking during all vigorous inside activities. This morning they changed it again to go back to recommending masking when feasible. They pulled back some on that which will be good news for our volleyball players. Volleyball is the only sport going on right now.

–Tuesday night will be a work session for the school board to look at look at some logistics for the travel mandate. The board will also talk about the block schedule at the high school. A survey will be going out to students Monday morning about block schedules. The board will also look at what the response will look like if and when there is a positive COVID case in the schools. What will the response look like on a matrix? There is good feedback from other schools that have been through it and worked out some of the bugs. It doesn’t mean that the schools will be shutdown complete; there is a process for it.

–Department of Education responded to the Petersburg borough last week, which points out the hold harmless to school districts for the loss of funding for having less students enrolled. For us with the amount of students that we are down, we are down some but not as much as many other school districts. Our finances have been in order so that’s good for us. I think going into the legislative session there will be more discussion about what the next two to five years will look like.

–The pool closure has ended the high school swim season. They considered dry land training but they’re not going to do it because it’s hard to train for a swim meet out of water. The pool closure was a blow for the students. The team is grateful for the few regional meets they had. They are disappointed but…2020 just keeps dishing it out. Trying to come up with ideas for senior appreciation in mid-November for both swim and volleyball.

–Thinking about space and spacing in classrooms with the new CDC guidelines. Thinking forward about the holidays and Halloween. We are continuing to ask people to be careful as we head into the Halloween holiday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Everything that happens outside in the community affects the schools as well because we are in a small town. We are holding our breath and have our fingers crossed a little bit. We’d hate to have to reduce our in-person time and we are fearful of that as we head into the holiday season.

Oct. 16, 2020 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

Petersburg Borough’s Emergency Operations Center—Karl Hagerman, EOC Incident Commander

–This week has been pretty busy. The three positive test results that we announced the evening of Oct. 14th, have taken some time. Public Health launched into a contact tracing effort. In their efforts to trace where those people may have been, it was found that one of the household members had visited local bars. We felt it was very important to get the information out to people who may have been there and who they may have come in contact with. We took a page from Juneau’s book, we put out information out to anyone who visited any local bar on Oct. 9 or 10th to call the COVID hotline. I really want to encourage anyone who has visited a local bar on October 9th or 10th to call the COVID hotline to talk to a nurse to see if they need to be concerned and what they can do from that point forward.

–The three cases likely went to other places in town besides bars but the highest concern was the bars because of the amount of time that the one person spent there. We’re trying very hard not to prejudice any of the local establishments by naming the bars specifically. So, we’re asking everyone one who went to any bar to call the hotline. The hotline nurses know which bars are involved and can tell people right away if they should be concerned or not.

–The State has eased its travel Mandate 10. Many of the requirements are similar to what they were. They basically reissued the whole mandate but didn’t identify the details that changed. In a nutshell, they tried to lump resident and non-resident interstate travelers together. Anybody coming into the state must observe a five day social distancing period if they already have a negative test in hand. If they do not have a negative test upon arrival, any Alaska residents can test at the airport for free and non-residents can test for $250. You have to isolate until you get the test results. Just because you get that first negative, that doesn’t mean that you resume life as normal or that you can go into businesses. You have to be strict social distancing. You can move about outdoors if you have a face covering.

–Intrastate travel has the same rules as before however, people traveling between communities can be tested at airports if they wish. It is not required. There is language in the state mandate that does recommend that communities require testing of travelers within the state. A health alert would check that box and help protect Petersburg from anybody traveling in the state.

–EOC is recommending for the assembly NOT to end the local emergency declaration. I just don’t see the logic calling off any emergency declaration at this time. I know it’s been an issue that’s bound to come up since Petersburg has been doing so well. But it’s not the right time for what’s going on locally, in the state, and nationally.

–There are no changes to the EOC’s approach to the Octoberfest next week and Halloween. Octoberfest has a strict health mitigation plan in place approved by the EOC. The organizers put a lot of work into it. They will be enforcing the plan. I’m not too concerned about that unless the contact tracing for the latest case uncovers a lot more positive cases. At the present time, things are looking okay. Tentatively, these activities can move forward.

–Rumors of a false positive still circulating from the positive test result from two weeks ago. It was NOT a false positive. There was viral material in that test sample. There was enough virus in that sample to test positive. If a subsequent test happens and it is not positive, it is because the viral load has lessened or the test sensitivity has changed. The state’s lab (the first one) is more sensitive than local rapid tests (the second one).

Public Health Nursing—Public Health Nurse, Erin Michael

–Contact tracing continues in Petersburg from this week’s three positive cases. If you are getting a call and don’t recognize the number, please answer your phone. It could be Public Health. We just need to do a brief interview to find out if you were a close contact. You might not be. If you are, you would need to isolate.

–Because the positive case who was in a public place (a bar) it can be a larger community event with a larger contact tracing event. It can have a larger impact than a family that stays at home.

–It appears that people are experiencing “COVID fatigue”. People all over the country are not following the recommendations that have been in place since this started. It’s challenging. I feel that fatigue myself. We’re hearing about it all across the state. It’s definitely occurring. Even though it’s challenging, it is still important to stay six feet apart, wash your hands, wear a face covering, keeping your bubble small. If you are in a bubble with someone else who doesn’t keep a small bubble, then it’s almost like you aren’t keeping your bubble small either.

–It’s really, really important that people get their flu shot this year. It free and simple this year. Lots of flu cases is one less thing that providers have to worry about this season. For those that are 2 to 18 years of age, they will have a limited number of 50 nasal vaccines for those who are needle phobic and won’t get one otherwise.

–Be patient with us at the drive through because it is the first time that we are doing a drive through like this.

–If someone can’t make the drive through, contact the Joy Jansen Clinic at PMC to get one later.

–If you are told you are a contact, please stay home for 14 days after

Petersburg School District—Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter

–The latest is we have completed our third full week of all in-person education; our green schedule. We’re very excited to continue in that same vein. The three recent positive cases are reminders that the virus is here and it’s not gone. We encourage everyone in our community to continue to be careful because what they do affects us at the schools. COVID fatigue is real but continuing forward with the things we have in place make a difference. Dr. Zink continues to say this as well.

–Spread within schools is not really happening because there are mitigation measures in place in the schools and people are doing our best to follow them. Even though it’s tiresome, it’s working in the school. Dr. Zink says schools are not being shown to be places of spread in the state because of that.

–Talked with Dr. Zink about the state’s travel mandate change. We asked the question, why 7 days went down to 5 days for isolating after a first negative test for out of state travel? Dr. Zink said 7 days helps gather 70 to 80 percent of positive cases and at 5 days you might catch 50 percent of them. I’m not sure what that means for us moving forward around the holidays for our staff moving forward. We’ll have to think that through for travel policies for our own staff.

–Our kids are doing great. They’re happy to be here and we’re happy to have them. We want to remind everyone that whatever you do that out there helps us to stay going.

–Close contact in a school setting? Within six feet for 15 minutes or more. Or someone that got coughed or sneezed on by a positive case; someone who shared a glass with them even if it’s less than 15 minutes. Someone who lives with someone who tested positive or clearly if there was a student or staff member that tested positive, if there was someone who was around that person who was around them unmasked.

–If there is a positive case at the school, it doesn’t necessarily change the status at the school. It does NOT necessarily change the color status of the school. It depends on where the student was, what groups they came in contact with, and who they were in contact with. I talked with the Ketchikan School where there was a positive case among the students and they closed the high school for 24 hours so they can get information about the case, make contacts, and clean the school. It’s more of a pause. Particular teachers and students would be in isolation but the whole school would not shut down.

–Contact tracing is why those pods are so important. It’s become more focused on specific groups. They might end up with 60 or 70 people that may have to be quarantined for two weeks but it wouldn’t have to shut down the whole school. It’s possible that you can have a classroom or a group of students that might need to quarantine for two weeks but the school would not necessarily need to close down. It’s taking individual action with pods and groups instead.

–If someone in a pod is a positive case, other students in that pod might be considered a close contact or they might not. It depends if other students or teachers were in contact with the positive case within six feet for 15 minutes.

–Contact tracing really does reinforce why we are doing the mitigations, why we’re talking about six feet, why we’re talking about masking. It doesn’t matter until it matters and then when you are going through the contact tracing, every one of those actions and strategies becomes important.

–The contact tracing process is the same between schools. The schools would look to Public Health for contact tracing. There could be interactions outside of schools that might impact contact tracing as well. It’s really going to depend on the contacts of the student or staff in and out of school.

–We don’t want to underreact but we also don’t want to overreact. I appreciate the Public Health Nursing and PMC for their guidance and support in announcing the right information to the public. If there is not really a change in the school’s status, we would not necessarily make an announcement at the schools about a positive case in the community.

–At this point, the school district canceled the volleyball game this weekend against Klawock because of the active cases in town. Unfortunately, that won’t happen this weekend. They will have a blue and white scrimmage instead. Things in the community do have an impact on the schools.

–No new high school activities will be starting up after November 21st unless the state changes their recommendations. Our kids are craving activities and we want it for them. It’s important for their physical and mental health. We’ll keep talking about what we can do.

Petersburg Medical Center—Matt Pawuk, Julie Walker

— 4,608 tests have been completed, 144 tests are pending, none of the tests are more than three days old. Turn-around times remain around three days. There are three active cases. 10.7 percent of the population has been tested in the last two weeks.

–As for the rumor about the false positive from a few weeks ago, the State test was positive which is more sensitive than the local rapid test which was negative. For example, a comparison is that the State test looks at the sample two inches away and our local tests look at it two feet away.

–The flu shot drive through clinic is happening tomorrow 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. near the elementary school. People should pre-register at pmcak.org. Pedestrians should walk through the same route as the cars driving through the clinic. The people that are lining up for the clinic are asked to start up on the top of the hill by the Children’s Center at 5th and Excel Street. There will be people directing traffic. Cars go to the elementary school where health providers will check over people’s pre-registration forms. They want everyone to pre-register online at pmcak.org. If you don’t pre-register you will need to pull over and fill out a paper form.

–For people who are over 65, PMC does have the higher dose vaccines for the flu shot clinic. There is a certain amount that they have and will dispense them until they run out. If you pre-register at pmcak.org you have a better chance of getting the higher does vaccine. After they run out, the vaccines for 65 and older will be available at a later date at PMC’s clinic when they get more in stock.

–Everyone bring masks to the flu clinic. If you forget, we will have masks there. Please pre-register at pmcak.org, it will go a lot faster tomorrow.

KFSK’s COVID-19 Weekly Panel Update—Oct. 9, 2020

Petersburg Borough’s Emergency Operations Center—Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman

–Happy to report that there is still only one active case in Petersburg. The one case has not caused an outbreak.

–The EOC has addressed rumors that it was a false positive. That is NOT true. It’s almost impossible to have a false positive through the state’s lab.

–COVID cases in more highly populated areas of the state are rising rapidly. While we are doing very well in Petersburg it could change rapidly for us as it has in other communities. There is an outbreak of eight cases in two days in Ketchikan. EOC encourages the community to keep social distancing, face covering, and washing hands regularly.

–If you have any symptoms don’t write it off as a cold, call PMC’s hotline and get it checked out. Things could go sideways for Petersburg rapidly.

–The borough has a travel policy for its employees. The current version mirrors somewhat the State Mandate 10, which requires testing when you return to Petersburg.

–The State’s emergency health declaration could end in November. Nobody seems to know what will happen with that. It’s hard to fathom that the Governor and the Legislature would not extend the declaration. Petersburg also has its own local emergency declaration to work from as well.

–EOC has released recommendations for Halloween in Petersburg. It’s been a tough year, we want to support the holiday as long as Petersburg’s case count stays low. 6-8 p.m. Halloween night. We want people to consider the risk of lots of people mingling so we minimize the risks. Encouraging people to hold any activities outdoors if possible. Stay in your family group if you can. They encourage trick or treating but ask that trick-or-treaters wear masks and social distance from people that aren’t in their family bubble. Asking people to distribute treats separately, ideally not hand to hand. Treats could be in separate baggies on tables or spread out somehow. Do NOT use communal bowls that kids reach into. Some Chamber of Commerce businesses downtown plan to hand out treats throughout the day so it is more spread out.

–Strongly encourage travelers going in and out of Petersburg to visit the state’s travel portal and register for the mandatory process. It’s much easier and faster if people pre-register before going to the airport: www.alaska.covidsecureapp.com.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter

–Finishing up the second week of the in-person, green status school schedule. So far so good but we’re kind of holding our breath with cases happening in communities around us.

–Had a great time at regional cross country last weekend. We are gearing up this weekend for a small meet with Wrangell here for swimming on Saturday. Wrangell is also coming over for volleyball this weekend. They will not be staying the night, they’ll come over and leave on Saturday. The kids are really enjoying that.

–The school district follow the state’s Mandate 10 for out of state travel. For in state travel we don’t do anything differently except for wearing masks and other protocols. We don’t have a ton of travel going on with many people, which helps. We anticipate challenges coming up with Thanksgiving and Christmas with people coming into town and staff wanting to travel. We are trying to find out what the numbers are there. The next couple of months will be interesting.

–School board meets next Tuesday will look at how the schedules and guidelines are going at the schools. They might go over minor tweaks that administrators have dealt with. Continue to work with PMC and Public Health Nursing if there are any cases and if there are cases, whether they could be connected to the school. That’s why we continue having smaller groups in school. We are also encouraging people to limit the number of groups outside of school as well.

Petersburg Medical Center—CEO Phil Hofstetter, Infection Control Manager, Liz Bacom, Nurse Manager, Jennifer Bryner,

–1 active case in Petersburg, 4,374 total tests completed, 76 pending, almost all of them are less than three days. 41 percent of population has been tested overall and in the last 14 days it’s 10 percent of the population.

–The active case in Petersburg was NOT a false positive. It was an asymptomatic staff person at PMC and was identified through bi-weekly asymptomatic testing that PMC does.

–Looking to break down the testing tent at PMC before the cold weather sets in. Trying to put in a retrofit door at the respiratory clinic so that people can come there and be tested.

–PMC is currently in a yellow, moderate status, lowered from the red status when the active case was new. Contact tracing was completed.

–PMC has communicated with SEARHC about their new testing in Petersburg. We are working with them to include their numbers with the Borough’s. SEARHC’s tests are Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.—2 p.m. The tests are sent to Sitka. The results are usually back within four days.

–PMC and Public Health will be holding a free flu shot clinic next Saturday, Oct. 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s a State of Alaska Public Health Influenza P.O.D. (point of dispensing). It will be near the elementary schools. People can pre-register at pmcak.org and there is a map there of the drive through. There will also be forms at the drive through that people can fill out. Please wear short sleeves and babies wear pants that can be moved. PMC hopes to receive higher-dose vaccines for people 65 and older but they won’t know until a day or two before the Saturday event. Pre-register for the flu shot clinic on PMC’s website, pmcak.org. Wear short sleeved shirts. Babies in car seats should not be in the middle of the car and they should wear shorts of dresses to expose the leg. They are hoping the drive-through process will take just 10 minutes.

–Alaska has seen some cases of the flu already. It will be a challenge for health care providers because symptoms of the flu and COVID can be the same.

–For close to two weeks now, Alaska has had over 100 new cases every day. One of the biggest reasons we want to keep track of this is that it can be such a hard disease for the elderly. That doesn’t mean that young people won’t get sick too; they can.

–There are long-term consequences with COVID that we are not fully understanding yet. Some people have lingering symptoms for months. It’s not something to mess around with.

–PMC tries not to put staff under travel restrictions. They encourage safety and following the state’s mandates. For those traveling they recommend planning ahead and not using rapid tests because they have limited supplies.

Petersburg Economic Development Council—Director, Liz Cabrera

–There is a brand new grant program that PIA is offering, a $500 moorage cost subsidy open to all Alaska residents with a moorage agreement in the Petersburg Harbor for at least three months since March 15, 2020. The deadline to apply is November 15. Applications are at the Harbor Master’s office, PIA office, and on the borough’s website.

–The State of Alaska just released their draft spending plan for the Cares Act Fisheries Assistance Program. That is available to review on the ADFG website. That draft plan includes eligibility criteria for participants in seafood processing, commercial harvesting, sport charter, subsistence and aquaculture. That plan still needs to be approved by NOAA. We are probably a few weeks out from when people can start applying for that program.

–Yesterday was the deadline for the local economic support program for businesses in Petersburg. We received 54 applications. Hopefully folks will hear back from us sometime next week to continue with the process. Preliminary numbers show that there should be enough funds for the applications.

Petersburg COVID-19 panel highlights, Friday October 2, 2020:

Petersburg Emergency Operations Center— incident commander Karl Hagerman

–There was a positive case of COVID in Petersburg announced Thursday, October 1, ending the community’s one and a half month run of having no cases in town. The case was identified in a staff person at the Petersburg Medical Center through routine asymptomatic testing. PMC has raised their alert level to red status. The person is isolating and the process of contact tracing is happening and is ongoing.

— This person has not been traveling so they think it was community spread. They haven’t pinned down who the person got the virus from and they may never know. But that’s a determination made by state epidemiologists.

–There is a new tent in place at the airport for testing for the colder months. It’s working well so far.

–The borough assembly will consider allowing in-person participation at meetings. They think it could be possible to do that with using masks and with social distancing. The public could comment in-person one at a time. Meeting times might change to 3 p.m. to allow for more staff to help.

–The assembly is considering extending a few mandates, including one that requires larger passenger vessels to contact the EOC before they dock and offload in Petersburg. Another mandate would extend the Narrows Inn as an emergency quarantine location for people who do not have shelter.

–Many residents are interested in Halloween this year. The EOC has been discussing it and overall, the EOC feels like the holiday should occur but they will be releasing recommendations on how to do it safely. It is a major risk for spreading the virus without any precautions.

–In-person voting for the municipal election is Tuesday, October 6 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the community gym.

–It’s important to continue mitigation efforts of social distancing, wearing face coverings when you can’t stay six feet apart

Petersburg Medical Center—Liz Bacom, Infection Prevention Manager, CEO Phil Hofstetter, Nurse Manager Jennifer Bryner

–4,121 tests total, 79 tests pending, and one case is active. The turn-around times for tests are pretty consistent now at three days. 10.3 percent of the population tested in the last 14 days.

–PMC is at red status which means appointments are going to telehealth. Physicians are determining appointments. Other hospital employees who might have been in contact with the person would be quarantining for 14 days. Working with state epidemiologists, if all is good over the weekend, they will likely downgrade the category next week so they can see more patients.

–people who have appointments should give the clinic a call to reschedule the appointment or schedule a telephone or online visit.

–PMC does asymptomatic testing on staff every two weeks.

–Contact tracers with the state were on the phone trying to reach people within two hours of the case being identified. If you do get a call from the contact tracers, they will identify themselves as being with the State of Alaska. They will NOT ask for financial information. Please answer your phone. Their number might look like a strange cell phone number because some contact tracers are working from home. They will ask you details about where you have been in the last two weeks and who you’ve come in close contact with.

–PMC has the rapid tests but the state does not have any more rapid tests cartridges. PMC will probably be a little more restrictive on the rapid tests, reserving them for symptomatic testing.

–It’s very important to keep six feet of distance between people. If you don’t you could be a close contact to someone who ends up testing positive for COVID. Close contacts to someone who tests positive for COVID must quarantine for 14 days after their exposure. So, it’s better to not be one of those close contacts.

–PMC’s hotline is a great way to find out information about COVID during business hours. Call 772-5788. You can call that number to schedule a testing appointment. It should be scheduled 5-7 days in advance, so keep that in mind in getting a test lined up for travel.

Petersburg School District—superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter

–The first week of the school district’s “green status”, which is all in-person schooling. No big issues came up with scheduling.

–A few students are choosing to participate at school remotely still but most are coming to school in-person.

–The district is working with PMC about the COVID case that was identified in town. They don’t have any indication that the case is connected to the schools and that they would need to take drastic measures. At some point in the future there will be a COVID case connected to the school and they are preparing for that.

–Hosting the regional cross country meet Friday and Saturday at Greens Camp

–The outdoor covered area belongs to the school and outside groups need to work through the school district to use the space. They are happy to make the space available if schedules allow.

–In schools, maintaining smaller groups and pods makes a huge difference during contact tracing. They allow schools to stay open longer if there is a case. Schools don’t necessarily have to close down if students have been kept separate.

Liz Cabrera, Petersburg Economic Development Council and Petersburg borough

–Thursday, Oct. 8 at the close of business is the deadline for local businesses to apply for the local grant program

–Keeping a close eye on Congress to see if there is any other emergency relief funding approved that could be available for Alaskans.

–There has been an increase in attempted fraud over the phone. Be cautious of callers looking for any personal information and financial information.

Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Show—Sept. 25, 2020

Petersburg Borough’s Emergency Operations Center—Karl Hagerman, EOC Commander

–Slowly making progress on creating the community plan. PMC is working with Ketchikan EOC to model templates since Petersburg modeled their plan after Ketchikan’s. Developing a local dashboard and will make sure it’s working the way they want it to before going public with it.

–Case count in Petersburg remains low and because of that, the EOC and PMC have had time to focus on a community plan.

–Hoping to move a new airport tent into place today, one with heavier material and more robust structure for the colder months. It’s a single structure instead of using three separate tents. It will be the same foot print, so it’s not bigger, but it will be more usable space. The new tent was bought from Alaska Tent and Tarp in Fairbanks. After COVID, the tent can be used at the borough landfill for the Sanitation Department because they need extra storage space.

–The EOC has a lot of free masks. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has sent the community many masks. Any residents or businesses who need masks can get them. There are masks located in most borough offices, like inside the door at the municipal building downtown, at the harbor office, parks and rec, the library, and inside several local businesses including First Bank, Kito’s Kave, Lee’s Clothing, Viking Travel, and Rexall Drugstore. They all have free masks for people in the community.

–Petersburg is in a really good position right now and it would be great if it continues into the winter. Please get your flu shot.

–Please be kind to your neighbors and do everything you can to mitigate the virus. We hope to be Covid free for next spring and summer but it will depend on people’s actions now and getting a vaccine.

Petersburg School District—Erica Kludt-Painter

–Finishing up the fourth week of school. Excited to move to a green, low-risk status level next week. Starting on Monday, the 28th, schedules will change. At the elementary school in-person will be 8 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. For the middle and high school, the schedule will stay the same time-wise but students will be on campus every day instead of an alternating schedule. At the middle school there will still be in pods with their teachers the whole day.

–The school district is testing out a notification system called “One Call”. It sends texts to parents and guardians. If you haven’t received a message, contact the school and make sure they have your current contact information. If the schools have to go back to the mid-risk level or yellow level, parents will be notified through the One Call messages.

–The district has been learning new information from the state and other school districts about what to do and not do if cases crop up. Some of the guidance has changed since the beginning of school. Now, if there were a single COVID case, the schools might shut down for 24 to 48 hours for contact tracing. It’s less about the extra cleaning being done and more about contact tracing. It will depend more on if there is a spread in the school. Single cases don’t necessarily trigger that kind of response. If there is a case in the elementary school, there might be recommendations for the middle and high school but it will depend on the connections with siblings. So, closures might impact other buildings or they might not.

–Swim time trial for swim today.

–Middle School has a cross country virtual meet this Saturday against other teams from Southeast.

–Symptom free protocol might make this the healthiest year because people are following healthy protocols.

–Parents who have questions should email teachers, administrators, or the school district office.

Petersburg Medical Center—Phil Hofstetter, CEO, Liz Bacom, Infection Control Manager

–3,934 tests have been completed, 57 pending tests and none of them are more than three days old. There are no active cases.

–PMC is staying at the yellow level. That’s the lowest level that PMC will be until the pandemic is over.

–PMC will be taking down the drive through tent for the winter and they will be using indoor space for testing in the respiratory clinic.

–Some visiting providers are still coming in but not eye doctors because they aren’t affiliated with PMC clinics. The visiting physicians’ clinic is closed because it is being used for the respiratory clinic. So, that space is not available for visiting optometrists as it has been in the past.

–Drive through flu shot clinic will be held on a Saturday in October but they don’t know which weekend yet. It’s important that people get their flu shot this clinic because it will help providers focus on Covid. The flu can mimic Covid.

–Petersburg resident, Dave Berg, called in and asked about faster testing capabilities. He said that United Airlines is going to be offering Covid test for passengers on their way to Hawaii. The test results are going to be available in about 15 minutes. Liz Bacom responded saying that PMC doesn’t have anything like that but she’s watching all tests as they come out. She says that those tests might be antigen tests, which might not be as accurate as other tests.

Petersburg Economic Development Council —Liz Cabrera

–The assembly did approve $500,000 for an economic support program for local Petersburg businesses. The deadline to apply is October 8th. You can get an application on line on the borough’s website. You can get paper applications at the borough finance office and at the public library. You can also get applications emailed grants@petersburgak.gov. Even new businesses can apply if they can’t show losses for last year. The borough will contact those businesses to get other information. This is not first come, first served program. They will be trying to spread the funds out to all applicants. They will not be distributing funds until after the application period closes.

–Borough assembly approved $65,000 for childcare assistance for families. Applications are available from childcare providers. Applications are turned in to Petersburg Mental Health Services but you can drop them off at the childcare providers as well. The deadline for October assistance is October 1st. The program will last until the end of the year because the state and federal governments are requiring it to be spent by the end of the year. The funds have strict timelines to follow.

–The third and final round for Coronavirus non-profit relief fund is open and the deadline for non-profits to apply is October 14th. It’s operated through the Alaska Community Foundation and they have an online application process, which can be found on their website.

Petersburg Indian Association PIA

–PIA has a rent and mortgage relief program set up for eligible tribal households. You can get more information about it by calling 772-3636 or stop by their offices.

Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Show—Sept. 18, 2020

Petersburg Borough’s Emergency Operations Center—Karl Hagerman, EOC Commander

–The assembly will be voting on making a permanent emergency ordinance Monday evening. There is a public hearing also. The public can comment to the assembly by email or they can call into the meeting and make comment. If the assembly doesn’t pass the emergency ordinance, the EOC can still operate under Alaska State Statutes although it makes it more difficult than having something local ordinance that dictates what can and can’t be done. The borough’s attorney feels that even without a temporary or permanent ordinance the borough could still take action to protect residents in light of the pandemic.

–EOC has received a lot of masks from the State of Alaska and businesses can get them from the EOC. Next week, they plan to have distribution points where the public can pick them up too.

–EOC plans to improve the tents at airport screening with more weather resistance tents for the winter.

–Community protective plan is still in the works. It’s based after the community plan that Ketchikan developed. It’s pretty much written and it’s getting ready to be rolled out for the public review and assembly review. Collaborating with the Petersburg Medical Center on the plan.

–Our numbers are very low right now, and people should be proud of what a good job they are doing with social distancing precautions, hygiene and masking. Juneau has an outbreak happening and there are cases in other Southeast communities.

Petersburg Medical Center—Jennifer Bryner, Nurse Manager; Liz Bacom, Infection Control Manager

–3,714 tests have been completed, 29 pending tests, no active cases, turn-around times are about three or four days.

–The rate of testing for asymptomatic people has remained pretty steady. They are often groups of workers in town that do regular asymptomatic testing like the hospital or travelers coming into town.

–The COVID hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If it is a non-emergency, people should call the hotline (772-5788) between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Non-emergencies would include people developing symptoms or people who need to schedule testing.

–People traveling on the ferry to Bellingham need a rapid test. Those travelers need to plan a few days ahead of that. People need to give PMC 3-4 days of notice to get the rapid tests back in time. Nobody should count on rapid tests coming back the same day.

–The saliva testing is not really a good solution in Petersburg because it doesn’t work for influenza. The state lab and the local lab are not able to use saliva for flu testing, there would have to be two specimens taken, and it might slow things down.

–We likely won’t see a lot of flu if people continue to distance from each other and practice mitigation steps like hand washing and hygiene. People getting flu shots will also help. PMC is working with the Public Health Nursing to coordinate a flu shot clinic. Symptoms of the flu mimics COVID and we don’t want to have a lot of flu circulating. Please plan to get a flu shot this year. You can’t get the flu from the flu shot but sometimes there can be mild symptoms from a person’s immune system reacting to the vaccine but it is temporary.

Petersburg School District—Erica Kludt-Painter

–There is a lot more hand washing and kids are being great about protocols. In the district, people are trying to handle it through encouragement to students. Keeping a positive message.

–The kids are happy to be at school and staff is happy to be there too.

–Moving forward to go to a green level towards the end of September. They are reevaluating that and making plans for that. Looking at spacing in the classrooms, working with the bus schedules. Working on after school activities for kids to keep them outside.

–Things are looking good, as long as people stay vigilant, the school schedule should open up on Monday, September 28. Parents should look for information through emails and texts about the details. At this point, the district has decided to go to a green zone on the 28th unless something changes. With zero cases, it allows us to keep going forward.

–Parents might be getting “One Call” text messages next week. They may look like strange phone numbers. The district will be testing this system out next week to get information to parents. They should be short messages. If you never get these text messages next week, please call the school and let them know.

–I am hearing at statewide meetings that there is a concern for the Southeast region because there are COVID cases in other Southeast communities. Be aware of our surrounding communities and how quickly we could be impacted. Super appreciative of everybody’s work here and are hopeful moving forward.

Petersburg Economic Development Council —Liz Cabrera

–The assembly did approve an economic support program for local Petersburg businesses. The deadline to apply is October 8th. You can get an application on line on the borough’s website. You can get paper applications at the borough finance office and at the public library. You can also get applications emailed grants@petersburgak.gov. Even new businesses can apply if they can’t show losses for last year. The borough will contact those businesses to get other information.

–USDA seafood trade relief program is onging. The USDA is holding a webinar on Sept. 22 at 11 a.m. AK time on how to apply and more information on the program. You can register at this website: farmers.gov/seafood.

–The unemployment numbers for Petersburg is lower now than it was at this time last year. It’s down to 5.3 percent. The State’s rate is 6.4 and the Southeast region is 6.5 percent. Petersburg is lower than the region and the state for unemployment.

–The Alaska Cares Program did stop accepting application. If they happened to have leftover funds, they will open it back up and let the public know.

–There is a FAQ on the borough’s website and they are trying to update that regularly.

Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Show—Sept. 11, 2020

Petersburg Borough’s Emergency Operations Center—Karl Hagerman, EOC Commander

–State travel mandate hasn’t changed but the state’s travel portal is pretty easy to use. It’s best if you set up a profile on the portal first before traveling. You can get a travel declaration form through that profile. After you return from out of state there is a difference between being in quarantine and isolating. You need to quarantine until the first negative test results. Quarantine means staying in your home and not leave for anything except for a medical emergency. After the first negative test, you need to strictly social distance until you receive your second negative test. You can leave your residence but you should not go into any public buildings where there are other people. Stay away from others and wear a mask. That’s not the same thing as quarantine.

–Hagerman just got back from traveling for three weeks out of state. He went to Washington, Montana, and Michigan and they all have statewide masking mandates. There was a high prevalence of face coverings. Masking is just a part of normal, everyday life there. If people were outdoors it wasn’t required but it was required indoors.

–EOC has sturdier tents to use at the airport for the colder weather that is coming.

–The EOC is preparing to come out with a community plan working with the Petersburg Medical Center. A draft plan has been sent to Dr. Zink at state for her review and advice. The borough will continue to develop that plan hoping to release it soon. The idea behind the plan is to give information to the community about best practices and voluntary restrictions.

–Thankfully, the Covid virus has been well under control but entering the flu and cold season, that could change. The State of Alaska is showing that most resident cases are related to community spread and not travel. So people should stay vigilant.

Public Health Nursing—Erin Michael

–Petersburg’s office is continuing to contact trace for the state, interviewing people all over the state. Erin Michael has two other nurses helping her with that in the office.

–In the process of prepping for a drive-through flu clinic in partnership with the Petersburg Medical Center and the Emergency Operations Center. In the past they have been in the gym but to help prevent the spread of infection, a drive through would be safer. And this drive- through clinic could be a practice run for when a Covid vaccine would become available.

–People should take personal responsibility, washing their hands, staying home if they’re sick, wearing masks when you’re around non-family members, and take the travel mandates seriously. Call PMC’s hotline if you’re having symptoms.

Petersburg Medical Center—Jennifer Bryner, Nurse Manager; CEO Phil Hofstetter

–3,537 tests completed, 75 tests are pending and only two of them are over a seven day wait.

–We are fortunate that we have a pretty low caseload, there are zero currently active, and hopefully we’ll keep it that way

–The hotline is still being staffed. If you are not in an emergency please call the hotline during business hours between 8 a.m.—8 p.m. The hotline is helping people arrange testing for Covid as giving guidance on what to do with other symptoms.

–PMC is working with the public health nurse to get a plan for a drive-through clinic for any future vaccine.

Petersburg School District—Activities Director, Jaime Cabral

–Mitigation plans keep evolving from the state level. Travel mitigation plan worked well for the high school cross country last weekend going to Prince of Wales Island.

–This weekend is a virtual meet for high school cross country with eight teams participating across Southeast. It will be the biggest virtual meet so far.

–Petersburg is scheduled to host the regional cross country meet however it may not happen. It’s supposed to be October 3rd however, several schools will likely not be able to attend. Several cross country teams have canceled their seasons this year.

–The state cross country meet will be very limited, with possibly just 30 runners total at the meet, with staggered starts. No team championships at the state meet this year. The top 14 runners from all of Southeast in all divisions (Division 1 will have the top six qualifiers, Division 2 will have their top four qualifiers and Division 3 will have their top four qualifiers.)

–ASAA hands out protocols to schools, which is considered the bare minimum. Southeast districts have their own mitigation plan to make sure that those rules are the same in every community. Each district can go even stricter, individually, if needed.

–The swim team will hold virtual meets only. The sport is pretty easy to run that way with everyone’s pool being identical.

–Volleyball competition is completely up in the air.

–Completing week two with modified version of school, students and teachers have been doing amazing. Middle and High School will be receiving cloth Viking masks next week.

Petersburg Economic Development Council —Liz Cabrera

–The Alaska Cares program (Alaska’s business grant program) is over-subscribed but they are still accepting applications. If you still need to apply do it as soon as possible. Do not wait another day.

–The assembly did approve $500,000 for an economic support program through local businesses. Getting the borough’s attorney to look at it and it should be up and running sometime next week. It is not first come first served, there will be an application process and there will be future announcements about it once it is up and running.

–The IRS is again encouraging people who have not received their economic impact payment to contact them. If you don’t usually file a tax return and have not received the payment, you can fill out a “non-filer” application on irs.gov. If you can’t use that non-filer tool, call 1-800-919-9835. It’s a customer service line so there might be a wait time.

–The USDA is making $530 million to commercial fishermen who were impacted by a retaliatory tariffs. It is limited to certain species, which include most commercial species in Southeast. There is an application period, which opens on Monday. Go to Farmers.gov/seafood. Or contact Liz Cabrera for a link to that website.

Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Show—Sept. 4, 2020

Petersburg School District—Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter

–The first week of school went well, kids were really excited to be back, it’s probably the happiest I’ve ever seen the kids coming back to school.

–There were minor technology glitches at the middle and high school that were worked through this week.

–The school district has just been approved to provide free breakfasts and lunches to all children through December. The foods services staff is adapting to the continuing changes.

–The alternating schedules is working well, the maintenance and custodial crew has been working extra hard, the school bus drivers have been great with shuffling schedules as well.

–Cross country is going in the high school and middle school cross country has just started. The high school cross country team is traveling to their first meet this weekend– down to Prince of Wales Island for a one-day trip. High School volleyball will start soon with certain protocols with limited athletes practicing together at a time.

–There are a lot of new teachers and staff this year and they are doing great.

–The school district will be looking at readjusting school schedules on September 25.

–Moved some calendar days around that the school board will be looking at.

–Please continue to practice COVID recommendations so that the community stays healthy and students can keep coming to school in-person.  

Petersburg Borough’s Emergency Operations Center—Sandy Dixon

–No active cases in Petersburg.

–There are 1,000 free cloth masks from the EOC for the community. They are being distributed through the library; there are also free masks for businesses. 1,000 cloth masks have also been donated to the schools. Masks can be requested by emailing eoc@petersburgak.gov.

–The borough is considering what to do with the last of the COVID CARES Act funding. Some ideas being considered are utility subsidies, moorage subsidies and rental assistance.

–A public forum will be held next Thursday at 4 p.m. about a proposed update to the borough’s emergency ordinance. The EOC and the borough support the updated version. People are still encouraged to submit questions for the forum. The deadline for posting the questions on the borough’s website has passed but the questions could still get addressed at the meeting.

–Gym and pool have expanded their hours. The sauna is open by reservation only.

Petersburg Medical Center—Liz Bacom, Manager for Infection Control, Liz Bacom; CEO Phil Hofstetter

–3,305 tests, 75 pending, and of the pending tests16 from the state lab are 7-10 days old and the rest are three days or fewer. The state lab has a back log.

–The hospital is requesting CARES ACT funding from the borough. PMC is also working with the borough to obtain grant funding. PMC’s request is a sort of place holder because they are still hopeful that they can receive other grants.

–PMC is working closely with the schools as they are reopening

–Airport testing continues

–Statewide, outbreaks are happening in the homeless community in Anchorage, which can spread into the general population.

–Petersburg residents should keep social bubbles small and be responsible when considering what you do. When you share families, you share their behaviors. 10 people or less in your contact bubble is considered “small”.

Petersburg Economic Development—Liz Cabrera

–The Borough Assembly will be considering spending $500,000 for an economic support grant for local businesses. Businesses could apply even if they’ve received funding from other sources. The businesses would have to demonstrate that they have had significant losses in gross sales between 2019 and 2020 and they would be prioritized. The assembly is also considering giving $65,000 in grant money to support families with childcare assistance. There is an application process for families through the borough.

–Alaska Cares Grant program has been over prescribed so they have received more grants than they have funding for. However, people should still apply because they might not fund all of the applications fully so people should apply as soon as possible.

Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Show—Aug. 28, 2020

Petersburg School District—Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter

–School starts Monday, Aug. 31, for Petersburg students

–A lot of preparation happening this week: virtual meetings, older students picking up technology, teachers and staff getting their rooms ready with desks separated for required social distancing, some Plexiglass installed at the front desks but still trying to keep it welcoming

–Technology for Middle and High School students should be pretty seamless because they’ve used laptops in past years

–Parents should pay attention to emails because there is new information constantly being shared; check the schools’ websites, and PowerSchool.

–Bussing: There will be multiple trips happening to keep numbers low on the bus and to accommodate different schedules like the AM/PM schedules. They are trying to work with families to figure out schedules.

–Looking forward to having nice, small student groups with the teachers the first few weeks of school, they hope to kind of back-fill what some things that may have been lost in the spring

–Schools will have provide masks for students if they need them but they want students to bring in their own if they can. Free reusable masks can be picked up at the Public Health Nursing office or by emailing the Emergency Operations Center eoc@petersburgak.gov.

–The school district is asking parents of younger kids to do a health screening at home before school. The elementary will follow up with temperature checks at school but parents know their children better than anyone.

–Students who have symptoms from an illness that they know is unrelated to COVID can come to school as they would in a normal year.

–Enrollment for the district is down about 35 students this year. Some are students who have moved away and some are students who are homeschooling this year.

Petersburg Borough’s Emergency Operations Center—Sandy Dixon

–1,000 masks are available through the EOC, people can email the EOC (eoc@petersburgak.gov) to get some. Business and organizations are encouraged to make masks available to their customers.

–The local health mandate for commercial crew ships and tour boats is up for renewal in a special meeting of the borough assembly Monday. The mandate is for ships that have more than 25 passengers who plan to overnight. The mandate requires approval from the EOC before docking in Petersburg. The EOC and the health officer, Dr. Mark Tuccillo, recommends that the assembly approve the extension of the health mandate.

–Encourage everyone to look at the school plans and follow the school plans, that’s how we are going to keep the schools open.

–EOC has extended the airport contract with the state for testing to October 31.

–EOC is going to extend the asymptomatic testing for resident seafood workers until October 31

–Mountain View Manor is allowing visitors on a limited basis. All families have been notified. There is a limit of four people per apartment and only three apartments can have visitors at a time. The visits need to be scheduled. Screenings and temperature checks are required at the Manor prior to the visit.

–The number of out of state visitors coming to Petersburg has dropped and the number of non-residents who are testing at the Petersburg airport has dropped. Most out of state visitors are getting tested before they travel into town.

–Anyone traveling out of state, go to the State’s Alaska Travel Portal at: https://www.alaska.covidsecureapp.com/ to register and fill out the travel information, which will make the screening process at the airport much smoother.

Petersburg Medical Center—Liz Bacom, Manager for Infection Control, Liz Bacom; Jennifer Bryner, Nurse Manager

–no active cases in Petersburg, 96 tests pending, 3,127 tests so far. The number of pending cases goes up and down because sometimes PMC tests groups of people for asymptomatic testing.

–The positivity rate is low and the turn-around times are good. The turn-around time is 2.5–3 days.

–A second test is required for residents and non-residents travelers from out of state 7 to 14 days after the first test is performed. Some people are following those rules and others aren’t. Between the first and second test people are supposed to be on strict isolation, not going into public buildings or being around non-household members.

–This is a time to stay home if you’re sick. If you’re child has symptoms please keep them home from school. If children have symptoms parents should call the PMC hotline during office hours. Children can be tested for other things besides COVID at the “Covid Tent” like strep throat and the flu.

–There is an uptick of strep throat going around. People are starting to open up their social bubbles and they are getting strep throat. It’s important to keep social bubbles really small. Following health recommendations for COVID (hand washing, physical distancing, and masking) will also help prevent other illnesses like colds, flus, and strep throat.

–Treat your masks carefully, wash your hands before and after handling them, don’t share them, they should fit securely but not too tight, they should be washed every day.

–PMC is keeping their eyes on other parts of the state, which have seen outbreaks, like at shelters and congregate housing units in Anchorage. The virus quickly spreads.

Petersburg Economic Development—Liz Cabrera

–The State of Alaska expanded the eligibility for Alaska Cares Program to businesses that already received PPP or idle funding and businesses that are a secondary source of income. The effective date for the changes is Monday, Aug. 31. All applications for people who are in that category will be processed. People can apply until November 15 or whenever funds run out.

–Loan forgiveness guidance has changed from the Small Business Administration for owner-employee compensation, rental related costs, if you rent a portion to your office to someone else, and also home business costs. The easiest way to find it is Google PPP loan forgiveness guidance and look for the “new guidance”.

–FEMA approved the State of Alaska’s grant request to boost unemployment payments by $300 per week. The program will be implemented in about six weeks and it will be retroactive to July 25 when those $600 additional payments ended.

Notes from KFSK’s COVID-19 panel discussion on Friday, August 21, 2020

Sandy Dixson – EOC Acting Incident Commander

  • Current active case correct? Yes, today will hopefully be their last day but they need to be cleared by PMC. (A clarification from Erin Michael) When someone is positive, to be cleared, need to have no symptoms, fever free for 24 hours, sometimes we can’t get ahold of them on the phone so can take a bit longer
  • Active case is a visitor, non-resident, correct? Yes
  • Let’s review travel requirements, it seems like there’s a loophole with allowing people to arrive with pending test results? (Sandy) Yes, latest travel mandate says any non resident traveling into the state is required to present a negative test result from the last 72 hours, or show they took a test that is pending, or take a test at the airport for $250, or quarantine for 14 days
  • Are travelers required to quarantine while waiting for test results? Yes, they are required to quarantine until they have results. After, they must follow a strict social distancing requirement until they receive a second test, within 7-14 days. After that, they’re free to go about their business. 

Public Health Nurse Erin Michael 

  • How is contact tracing going? Every day is unique, I’m learning a lot about Alaska. Myself and two other PSG nurses doing contact tracing for people across the state. Trying to figure out what resources are available for them in their communities can be challenging. Then reach out to their contacts to hopefully slow down COVID.
  • You’re reaching out to close contacts? I’m doing index tracing with people who have tested positive to gauge everyone who they may have been in contact with.  
  • What’re some of the questions you’re asking of those who are indentified as close contacts…we’ve heard there are scams going on, to get medical or financial info…what are you asking? We never ask for credit card information or money, that’s a scam. We ask where they live, phone number, who you live with/household members, what’s your job, signs or symptoms (we have a long list of symptoms), pre-existing medical conditions that may put person in higher risk, for positive cases – we ask who you have been around since symptoms started or since you got a positive test, what are their phone numbers.

Erica Kludt-Painter, Petersburg Schools Superintendent 

  • School is starting, teachers are back? Yes, teachers back since Tuesday for onsite trainings and some virtual professional development. Halls are buzzing, people happy to be back, lots of masks, following protocols, good energy.
  • Schools are symptom-free zones, if students have symptoms, will they be required to be tested? Or do parents have to get them tested? Yes, we have a symptom free policy, as recommended by the State. Working through details on screening. Younger kids, asking parents to help with that. Doing temperature checks at school. Staff will submit their own screening, similar to PMC staff. We may ask older kids to do something similar, working it out. From there, obvious symptoms, ask parents to pick up kids and then go through the process: call the hotline, get tested if needed, stay home, follow protocols, try to protect people’s confidentiality too. We’ll work with the medical center, they can’t share direct personal information with us due to HIPAA. PMC can weight in
  • To clarify, the school will encourage parents to call the hotline if kids get sick? Yes, and also know that kids have other conditions like allergies, so we hope parents and staff will let administration know about that going on. Bringing a lot of people together, so let administration and teachers know about existing conditions. 

Petersburg Medical Center with Liz Bacom and Phil Hofstetter 

  • With 450 students and about 80 staff, it’s the first time such a large group is coming together, people trying their best, but can PMC advise on protocols for families and staff?  We want a call for every unusual symptom. For typical things like allergies, that’s okay, but let us know if anything is abnormal. Always worthwhile to call the hotline and go through those symptoms with the nurse and see if a test is needed
  • Preparing for this, is PMC planning to have supplies? Yes, we’re always making sure we have enough supplies, and tests will be sent out instead of doing it in house if needed. We’ll have to see day by day and week by week where we’re all.
  • New test coming on the market, testing through saliva? Yes, new test that sounds inexpensive and fairly reliable. We want to be cautious about all testing we use, make sure it’s reliable but the saliva test would be good, especially for school
  • Anything else? We’re getting ready for flu season. We encourage everyone to get the flu shot. If we can prevent the flu, it’ll help the healthcare burden. Flu shot will hopefully be available by mid October
  • Erin, anything to add about flu vaccines? I know they’ve arrived in Juneau, I heard they’re going to be lifting restrictions so that nurses can provide flu shots to all residents. As soon as we receive the stock, we’ll let everyone know. Usually by October. 
  • Easier to access? Yes, they’re working on all barriers and ordering extra so anyone who wants the shot can get it
  • Phil, you spoke before the Borough this week, it sounded like PMC is taking a financial impact, making less revenue? Yes, working with Borough, businesses, schools, canneries, and airport, putting workforce toward testing services, and the downside to that is it takes away from medical services and access to care. We’re also seeing long term care is down, statewide as well. On the positive side, seeing our department of home health growing. Our revenue is down by a third. We’re trying to apply for grants, just found out that, regarding a big grant application we had with the Alaska Community Foundation, hospitals won’t be eligible for those funds. We may have to put in some CARES act funds requests in to the borough at the next Assembly meeting. 

Liz Cabrera, Petersburg Economic Development

  • Big news on the economic support front: major change in Alaska CARES program, for businesses, nonprofits – Governor asked to expand eligibility. So that businesses that have received PPP or SPA idle funds, can apply for Alaska CARES. Or for businesses that are secondary income sources. Change is going before the Legislature to be approved, 7-45 days for decision. People should apply now. There is some strategy behind waiting, business should do some forecasting, longer you wait the more expenses you can include on the timeline. More information on the Borough website. Could be a gamechanger for a lot of businesses in town
  • Another point:  IRS economic impact payments – some populations do need to provide information to the IRS, like if you receive Social Security or have children, must register children. Deadline is Sep 30th. Tool on IRS register to do that. Child payments are $500 per child. Info is also on website
  • New unemployment data for July 2020  – Petersburg unemployment rate dropped to 9.3% / State 10.8%  / Regional 11.3%. 177 jobs added in the community, 137 unemployed in the community; usually, around 100 unemployed this time of year
  • Some employment opportunities are posted on the borough website https://www.ci.petersburg.ak.us/?SEC=E9D4F968-9398-46DD-923D-A11FBADEE39F

Parting thoughts from 

Erica Kludt-Painter

  • Anything to add that parents should be thinking about? Putting together plans for families, registered and devices to students. If you haven’t received something, it’s coming
  • Seniors and Juniors come to school Monday and Tuesday to register
  • Virtual orientations for high schoolers, middle schoolers, 
  • Wednesday – 7th and 8th graders register, orientation that evening
  • Thursday – 6th graders register, meet teachers, orientation that evening
  • Friday – elementary students
  • Lots of information coming this next few weeks. Looking forward to having kids back

Liz Bacom

  • I went to OBI this morning, they’re doing swabs every other week. It’s a smooth operation, and they’ve done a great job. A lot of hard work

Phil Hofstetter

  • It’s important to review what’s happening in other parts of the state, we’re seeing clusters. Right now, we don’t have cases, but things change every day. That’s been true from day one with the virus.
  • How many pending tests? As of today 2883 performed
  • 98 pending
  • 97 less than 3 days, 1 in 4-6 days – turnaround time much better

Sandy Dixson

  • Encourages everyone to go to the State of Alaska Travel Portal. https://www.alaska.covidsecureapp.com/  Everyone can register in the portal ahead of time when planning any travel out of the state. Then coming back into the state will be a very smooth process.

Erin Michael

  • We received masks, if people need them, we’re giving out 1,000 of them. They are reusable. If people can’t get a mask on their own, stop by the public health center M-F 8-4:30pm 
  • Seeing people not keeping their bubbles small, or not social distancing, but those protocols are how we protect ourselves

Liz Cabrera 

  • To local businesses, take a look at the Alaska CARES requirements, new eligibility could include you. 

Highlights from KFSK’s COVID-19 panel discussion on Friday, August 14, 2020

Sandy Dixson – Acting Incident Commander 

  • Sandy is filling in for Karl for the next few weeks.
  • Regarding the most recent case, an individual who arrived on July 20th tested at airport and had an initial negative test result. A follow up test resulted in a positive result on August 12.  At the time of the positive result, the individual had already left town. The person was not symptomatic and contact tracing has been underway. Petersburg initially classified them as a non-resident because they own a home down south where they traveled from, but because they have a local address and phone number the state determined them to be a resident of Petersburg. 
  • State has shifted to a different screening/testing system this week. The electronic portion of the new screening system is a learning process; the state is working out the portal’s bugs. In the past travelers could submit a paper form; this new system requires registration and creating a profile in the Alaska Travel Portal. Then, a person can fill out the online travel declaration form for each time they travel. It can potentially save time, as your profile remains available, rather than doing the whole paperwork process for each instance of travel. At the moment, though, the airport screening is taking a little while longer than before; most of that time is just getting folks registered into the portal.  
  • All non-resident out of state travelers must present a negative test result from within 72 hours before entering the state. If arriving without that test result, they must take a test at the airport at a cost of $250 dollars and quarantine until getting a result back.
  • Any resident of Alaska can opt to get that test prior to traveling back to Alaska, but if they don’t, the test at the airport will be provided to residents for free, or they can choose to quarantine in lieu of testing. But quarantine instead of testing is not an option for non-residents. 
  • The EOC is still working on a community mitigation plan. It will have a three-level color-alert level system coordinated with the medical center and the schools. When the plan is completed (in a few weeks) it will be presented to the Assembly. 
  • The emergency ordinance is still a hot topic. The Borough will have a professionally moderated community meeting about the ordinance on September 10th.
  • And, as always, we’d like to thank the community for continuing to do what we have been doing. We’re encouraging people to wear masks and keep distance, but above all be kind to your neighbors. Even if we disagree, everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Thank you, everyone, for doing your part.

Petersburg Medical Center – Phil Hofstetter and Liz Bacom

  • Numbers as of this morning: 2668 tests completed, 0 active cases, 12 recovered, 69 pending tests, and all the pending tests are from within the last three days. Turnaround times are improving for tests.  Overall, the state and the commercial labs have been building up their capacity.
  • PMC’s request for CARES Act funding from the Borough is being pushed to September. We just need to make sure that we don’t have overlapping grant fund requests. PMC has a state grant request and a FEMA funds request in progress. Our biggest concern, regarding the Borough, is that we need to have some funds set aside, in case we don’t get the support from those alternative funding sources. The Borough is the last resort and we don’t want to be a barrier to others needing Borough CARES funding.
  • Flu shot info from Liz Bacom: Flu shots aren’t available yet. Flu vaccine providers are running into some competition for vials with the COVID vaccine developers. We don’t yet know if there will be much of a hold-up, but currently the flu vaccine is expected around the middle of September. We will let everyone know when it is available. The discussion hasn’t happened yet about how the flu shots will be made available, there’s a possibility of a drive through flu shot clinic.
  • Liz’s response to a question about recent media attention to a Duke University study that described ineffectiveness of fleece buffs to protect against particle transmission:  Keeping distance is the best preventative measure that people can take. Stay more than 6 feet away from each other. If you can’t, then some kind of a barrier that prevents droplets from going into the air is better than nothing. A nice tight woven mask that is comfortable to wear provides some good protection.   
  • Fisheries and seasonal travel will be winding down, but indoor activities, like the schools, are ramping up. We just want to stress to parents to monitor yourselves and your families for any sign of infection. The hallmarks of COVID are fever, cough, and shortness of breath, but other symptoms that should not be ignored are sore throat and congestion, eye pain, loss of taste or smell, rash, aches. We want to screen people for those things as much as we can. The number one thing is, if you identify a symptom in yourself or your child, please stay home and notify your employer and the school that you aren’t able to attend, and after 8 o’clock in the morning call the COVID Hotline, where if need be you can be referred to a physician and testing. Please call the Hotline if you have concerns about symptoms: 772-5788.

Erica Kludt-Painter with the Petersburg School District

  • We’ve been getting lots of feedback from parents and people in the community. We know that the conversations are difficult and there is lots of frustration from everyone, but we value people reaching out and sharing their concerns.
  • We’re continuing to move forward with protocols and thinking through what it might look like when kids come through the door on August 31st
  • Planning to do a slow start, half the kids coming in at a time, and then reevaluating that a few weeks into the school year. If all continues to be going well and we can stay in the Green zone, we are looking forward to returning to a full attendance model.
  • Those first few weeks will give us a chance to work through the procedures and protocols and get everyone used to being back in the building again. There will be some anxiety for parents and kids, but there’s lots of excitement, too. 
  • We’re moving forward with getting registration paperwork out to people, and virtual orientations, and laptop schedules and device handouts.
  • What happens when a kid presents or reports symptoms while at school? We have some procedures for that and some nurse office areas in all three buildings. There are challenges and differences in working with a six year old versus a 16 year old. What we’ve been doing this summer with summer school, mostly with the younger kids, is ask parents to do the symptoms screening for their kids at home, signing off using a screening tool. We need to follow a symptom-free protocol for all students and all staff. That’s worked out well. Though we know it is hard and will cause some disruption. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to be pretty strict this year. If you have a fever or symptoms, for example enough to take an Advil or Tylenol, you need to stay home, and that goes for adults too. The healthier our kids are, the healthier our teachers are, the longer we can continue to be onsite. We’d communicate with the family about a student’s symptoms, and they’d go through the process of contacting the COVID hotline to follow up with symptoms. We are looking forward to partnering with the medical center, potentially providing some nursing support. We may be able to have someone come up from the hospital and provide some of this further screening.
  • Teachers are coming on Tuesday. We’re looking forward to in-service and training, and then looking forward to seeing our kids onsite in a couple of weeks.

Liz Cabrera of the PEDC

  • No deal out of Congress for stimulus package. Sounds like the prevailing view is that nothing will be happening out of Congress until at least September. 
  • Governor Dunleavy did authorize the State Dept. of Labor to begin the FEMA application and to utilize State Unemployment Insurance funds to increase state unemployment benefits by around $300. So hopefully that will be forthcoming.  
  • Last week’s online workshop on how to apply for AK CARES for businesses affected by COVID was recorded and is available for viewing from the Southeast Conference or the Borough’s website. 
  • If you are in the recently expanded categories of businesses that are now eligible for those funds, and you had applied prior to August sixth for AK CARES funds, you might get automatically denied, so you will need to go back in and apply again.   
  • Also, please note, these online applications can’t be saved as you go. So be ready to make it all the way through the online application process. Have all your documentation available in front of you, scanned, or ready to scan while you are doing this application. It can take a little while and you don’t want it to time out and force you to start all over again.
  • There’s a checklist of all the documentation you will need. Look that over and have the documents ready when you start your AK CARES application process. 
  • The Borough and PEDC is looking into how Borough CARES funds could be put toward local businesses that need support, developing guidelines, etc. 

Highlights of the COVID-19 show for Friday, August 7, 2020:

Karl Hagerman, Petersburg Borough Incident Commander

  • What’s the latest? We are in the midst of getting up to speed on the changes on the state’s new travel mandate. Takes effect this Tuesday, August 11. First, they’re moving away from paper forms, so all information will be uploaded through the State of Alaska portal, through an app that’s not rolled out yet. Will share the website and app when it’s live. They’re working to make it happen before Tuesday. Biggest change is for non-resident travelers: must have proof of negative test 72 hours prior to arrival. Need to upload proof of test and results to portal. When they arrive, screeners will check test, if positive, then they need to quarantine for 14 days.
  • Can people get on the plane, without a test? Yes. Alaska Airlines is providing information, but they’re not screening. 
  • If non-residents arrive in Alaska without getting tested, you’ll be required to take a test at the airport, and pay for cost – $250 to state through the portal – no money collected in Petersburg
  • Have to quarantine while waiting for results for any test, prior to flying or on arrival. Turnaround time is not great, so people may be waiting for results on arrival and have to quarantine. The state is emphasizing, for out of state arrivals, until you get a second negative test you must practice strict social distancing.  
  • Alaskans returning to the state? For residents, can test 72 hours prior to arrival, or take a free test upon arrival. Or can choose a 14-day quarantine. Even if you are a resident, you must quarantine ‘til you have first result, and second result, must practice strict social distancing. Will have to verify residency – ID, drivers license, tribal ID, or health worker moving to Alaska, need letter from employer to get a free test
  • 2 cases that left the area have recovered? Yes they are. On the state data hub? No, haven’t seen it. I think the contact tracers are swamped, and it’s confusing. We know that it was low risk, so at least we have that.
  • Post office protocols? Yes, happy to hear that lines are outside. Anything we can do to help social distance, to reduce risk is good. Some people were recommending borough send employees to help direct people, and that’s not possible in a federal facility. 
  • Anything else? There will be a community meeting on the permanent emergency ordinance, it will be a good discussion, and hopefully can clarify need and purpose. September 10 at 4pm.
  • Community covid plan update? In development, coming up with metrics to trigger movement between risk levels, a lot of work, coming together. Will be shared for public comment. Hopefully useful to use and guide us, business wise and agency wise to control any increase in cases.

Petersburg Medical Center: Matt Pawuk, Phil Hofstetter and Liz Bacom

  • Overall 2,485 tests conducted total – includes all repeat tests, non-residents
  • 965 tests conducted on residents, for entire pandemic
  • 1,429 total individuals tested (residents and non-residents)
  • In last 30 days, 17% of population tested (residents only)
  • In last 2 weeks, 11% of our population tested (residents only)
  • The most important statistic is the number of positives
  • 0.49% positive rate for the entire pandemic
  • What’s the significance of the data on percentage of population tested? 
  • Liz Bacom: It’s about the percent positive – if it is greater than 5% of total – likely not testing enough people, there are probably more cases out there. Percent tested does not provide information about risk in the population
  • State hub has been updated, there’s great data there by region, community, etc. shows tests in last 7 or 14 days. 
  • 291 tests pending 
  • Turnaround time is getting better. We’re doing quite a bit of testing each week. Looking at volume of tests each day, fisheries tests coming back pretty quickly. Should see better turnaround time
  • Is PMC doing anything to beef up supplies for testing with school opening? (Liz): We are doing well with supplies for symptomatic testing. Asymptomatic testing, can’t bring that in-house, those would have to be sent out
  • Ketchikan has ordered a high volume rapid testing machine, could that help here? I think its great, but don’t have the volume that we need. If they can only do 300 a day, it’s an overreach to help us. We’re on the list for future conversations, but for now we’re going to keep going with the state and labs use now
  • PMC requesting CARES Act funding? PMC CEO Phil Hofstetter – Yes, we’ve also applied for grants. If we received those grants, we won’t need those borough funds
  • We’ve requested $1,004,638.50 from the borough, for: payroll, staffing for COVID hotline, a fifth physician, we’ve hired 2 healthcare providers, supplies, telehealth carts to increase access, exercise equipment for long term care staff, home monitoring units, contract with airport testing
  • fifth physician hired, is that a first for PMC? Yes, it hasn’t happened at least in recent memory. Temporary or permanent? Right now it’s permanent. The pandemic is not going away anytime soon, so we have a year contract and will reassess after that.
  • Access to care is down, it takes a lot longer to schedule patients, carve time, make sure waiting room is empty, cover respiratory unit (testing site) in parking lot
  • Can you fill all the jobs you need? We’re fortunate. We just hired a lab manager, we’re increasing the home health department, we’re fortunate to have these opportunities available for Petersburg
  • Anything else? Looking at this pandemic in the long term. We’ve been working on getting up to surge capacity and testing, and now looking at long term healthcare
  • What color status are we in? Yellow status, because increase in cases in the state 

Erica Kludt-Painter, Superintendent

  • Long, important meeting last night – big takeaways? Good participation from parents and community members, good questions and feedback. Always appreciated. Good conversation with the board, wrapping our minds around scheduling, impacts on student, staff and families – discussion on community overall. We realize school plays a huge role in families’ lives. It’s a challenging time. We appreciate the borough granting the CARES Act funding for the school this week, supplies, equipment, technology, to move through this time. Hopefully on-site learning, and prepare for what could happen, so could be remote
  • Board final vote on Tuesday night? Yes. Questions on the high school schedule, so we’ll continue discussing it on Tuesday. I don’t see the guidelines changing too much from now to then. We’re starting in the yellow zone, even though we are in a green zone, we’re approaching with caution, work “through the bugs” and take time with kids. A lot of points made on stress, anxiety, mental health, concerns about isolation, so we’re going to engage deliberately with students. It’s been a long 6-7 months, so starting slowly, start with smaller groups. It’s hard
  • Joe – It’s a community issue, employers have to consider as well. Symptom free campus means kids sent home, parents have to plan for that. (Erica)Yes, we’re not a hospital, kids come to school with sniffles all the time, six year olds answering about symptoms, we have a plan but realize it will be different in reality. We’re talking about the logistics, and I’m sad about that. We’re not spending as much time on instruction and learning. Symptom free guidance will be challenging, that’s another reason for starting slow.
  • Return to school August 31st for students
  • Hiring nurses or medical staff to help? Positions posted now: custodians, paraprofessionals, 3 teacher jobs posted. We’ve been talking with PMC to access nursing services, for symptoms or take questions. We don’t want to overreact or underreact (with symptoms). 

Liz Cabrera – Petersburg Economic Development Council

  • Update? The State has expanded eligibility for Alaska Cares – google AK Cares. If a business has received $5k or less of PPP, can apply. If you received more, and want to return some, to reach $5k, you can. Nonprofits are eligible too. Also limited entry permit holders, 2019 and 2020. Application period is open – akcaresonline.gov. Links are on the Borough website
  • Workshop on how to apply will be on the website as well
  • PPP deadline to apply is Aug 8, so today is the deadline through your bank
  • Still waiting on Congress to decide on PPP program – no deal reached yet
  • Alaska Coronavirus Relief Fund – apps due Aug 26
  • Locally, people in need of rent or food assistance, contact the Salvation Army. Contact will be on Borough website. Info on KFSK website too
  • Note PIA has utility subsidy program too
  • For those receiving Alaska rental housing assistance programs – they’re offering rent relief. Link to be posted on website. 

Anything else?

  • Karl: Petersburg is doing great, keeping case numbers low. Be vigilant, social distance, mask, wash hands. It’s paying off. Open doesn’t mean over
  • Erica: People wonder why we can’t open up, it’s important we continue to have low cases, keep going, appreciate everyone’s work and patience. 

Highlights on the COVID-19 show for Friday, July 31:

Karl Hagerman, Petersburg Borough incident commander

  • Changes for travel mandate for visitors to Alaska and impact for Petersburg? We know what the Governor announced, but have little information on what that means for small communities and for Petersburg. HHS is supposed to issue guidelines next week. We know: starting Aug 11, non-resident travelers must have a negative test. No option to quarantine. Which limits options. Must prove negative, before getting on the plane. A lot of questions on enforcement, who is checking tests, a lot of questions and not a lot of answers
  • For Alaska residents, there will be testing available. We don’t know what that looks like for Petersburg, could look the same, or change to testing at the Medical Center. Will keep people updated
  • Clarify: no longer an option to do a two-week quarantine, without test? No, they must present a negative test, before arriving in the state
  • Present negative test before flying or present on arrival? We don’t know, but we assume they can’t get on the plane without negative results
  • No new positive cases recently, correct? Yes, but testing is lagging, state labs are backlogged. State dashboard is lagging – last 2 cases of travelers who came through Petersburg and left, have not yet been posted on the state dashboard – so note, they will be posted soon. But not new cases, none since then. 
  • Any update on the Borough Assembly meeting Monday re emergency ordinance? Assembly will look at proposals for the format and date for a community forum on that. 
  • Many people are still writing in with comments on the emergency ordinance, including a mask mandate – is the Assembly considering it? No, not on the agenda at this time. I’ve seen those letters too, we’ll see if Assembly-members want to take that up. I’m still working on an emergency plan. Slow process, taking time to land on best approach
  • Aquatic Center has re-opened, any other facilities to be re-opened? Highlight is the aquatic center, Parks and Rec staff are working on a plan to open the gym as well. Working with the school on that plan, to have the best approach for both entities to operate. Coming soon. 

Erica Kludt-Painter, Superintendent

  • Tonight the School Board will have a work session on State guidelines? Yes, Board meeting next week to take action on plans and guidelines. It’s a challenging process to work with Dept of Education, HHS guidelines, work out guidelines, it’s been a roller coaster process this summer. Tuesday we got another update on guidance, after submitted proposal to Borough on re-opening plan with funding request. However, new guidance requires looking again at the plan. Low numbers in community is great, but a lot of red tape coming at us. So it will be a slower start than hoped. Logistics within guidelines is challenging, especially having a strict, symptom free protocol for everybody. To try to prevent any symptoms, testing, entire class having to quarantine. Challenging to coordinate small class sizes, staff, who’s in the building. It’s organizing the biggest social gathering since March. 
  • We do think we’ll have a reasonable schedule to start. But if our numbers stay low, we can open quicker
  • When’s the first day of school? To be decided next week. Likely end of August. Teachers come back Aug 18, need them to get familiar with the protocols, and teaching under these guidelines, platforms and distance delivery. High school is easier, K-5 is more challenging to teach online. So teachers will have professional development and training, including on technology, happening first, then school will start.
  • Importance of CARES funding from the Borough? Very important. We have to prepare for everything. If we were just remote, more of a tech need. But we’re preparing for both – in-person and remote learning – so teachers and kids will be in and out of school, so we have to have a good system in place from Day 1. So families and kids know what’s going on, so shifting to home to quarantine is planned for and people know what to expect. Having both in-person and remote systems in place is more expensive, plus we need more people. So we have a lot of dreams and goals, it’s a shifting landscape.
  • Work session tonight will be recorded and posted later. KFSK will cover too. 
  • For parents with kids returning to Alaska, need negative test results before coming back to school? Yes, teachers and students all will be under the same protocols. Must have a negative test within 72 hrs of arriving, or quarantine for 14 days. 
  • Symptoms heading into flu season – what if a student gets some kind of symptom, what happens? It’s challenging. The list of symptoms for covid can be commonly found, so yes if kids have symptoms they have to stay home. It will be challenging for younger kids, have to support each other, with parents having to work too. Larger community conversation, with employers too. We want as much time in school, but logistically challenging

Liz Bacom

  • 2123 tests – 29% of population
  • 2 active cases – those were visitors, not residents, already left town and already announced by borough
  • 259 tests pending 
  • Working on turnaround time 
  • New state testing requirements? Improve testing wait times? I don’t know, because we have a national increase in cases nationwide and in state, so the backlog is not just from asymptomatic testing
  • Numbers pointing to age group 20-35 – contributing to local transmission
  • Testing of local residents at seafood processing plants? Going well, using a different lab for them, trying to test all symptomatic tests in our lab, can do that. 15 or so cases a day, hoping it wont go up
  • Anything else? Stay home if you’re not feeling well. Call the hotline. Even mild symptoms, get tested just in case. Testing is easy, painless, you swab yourself. We want to keep it out of our town, so testing is how we do it

Karl Hagerman additionally:

  • Post office understaffing situation, concern with wait times and backlog: EOC will be coming out with suggestions and recommendations for everybody
  • First suggestion: the post office is open 24/7 – go collect mail regularly, so boxes are clear for staff 
  • Suggestion on the long line with limited hours: stake line outside, so people are not inside, higher COVID risk. 
  • Please wear face coverings, social distance as best as possible. Very important as Alaska case count spikes
  • More we do now, with no cases, the better we’ll do, with the behaviors we know and practice
  • Very impressed with PO staff’s work, must be patient and kind during this time

Highlights on the COVID-19 show for Friday, July 24:

Karl Hagerman, Petersburg Borough Emergency Operations Center Incident Commander

  • 2 latest cases, already long gone. They arrived on Jul 20, and got on a boat and left town, and contact tracing is ongoing
  • Those test results came back in 3 days. Medical Center has been working on turnaround times a lot.
  • Who is the charter company that transported them? We heard about the sport lodge and seafood company when they had guests/workers test positive, why not this charter company? I’m not willing to share that information. We had good communication with Lodge and Seafood companies, and they gave permission. We have not been able to have contact with this charter boat, and so have not got permission (to identify them)
  • Charter boat from outside of town? Yes. 
  • Coming back? Don’t know their itinerary
  • Comment on increasing case numbers across the state? Quite concerning. Our case count is low, thankfully it’s a good place to be. Alaska is not faring well. A lot of talk of asymptomatic cases. As those cases rise, it increases the possibility that vulnerable persons catch it. We don’t know everything about the virus. The more cases, the higher risk of severe impact, deaths. 
  • Hospitalizations go up, death occurs. We’re seeing that in other states and countries. Need to reverse this trend
  • Listener question: With numbers rising, more local jurisdictions and businesses putting masking requirements in place – is there going to be a mandate? Seems like the prudent thing to do, so businesses don’t have to close. 
  • Answer: It is a valid medical answer to mitigating the spread and is an easy way that businesses stay open, and we’re all protected. However, the answer is not easy. The political nature of masks has become a larger issue than the medical part. If we were proceeding on a medical basis all along, masking would have been put in place long ago. But we live in a democracy, and we’re hearing loud voices that don’t see the need, don’t want to do it. I’m in favor of a face covering, but the ultimate decision is by the Assembly. And I don’t believe there’s will on that level.”
  • Face covering alert across Alaska – recommended right now, plus social distancing. 
  • Working on an overall community protective plan, with recommendations for mitigation. We’re doing well now, but as we saw in Seward this week, it can turn on a dime. 96 people in a seafood processing plant are infected, in a short amount of time. That could happen here.
  • Update on emergency ordinance? What’s your authority to respond to an emergency? Yes, we have a special Assembly meeting today at 4pm to discuss a temporary emergency ordinance. Borough has been operating on same terms since March, now being scrutinized. Renewed on May 18, expired July 17, so temporary ordinance would be 60 days. The permanent ordinance postponed on Monday night would be codified, but only used in event of an emergency declaration. Pandemic is ongoing, this will continue. Assembly discussed whether to keep temporary ordinance, attorney recommends temporary ordinance passed. Old city ordinance does allow the borough manager to operate, tied to an old emergency plan, which is out of date. Needs to be updated.
  • Attorney focused on any violations of old city code is a misdemeanor, have to prosecute in court, which hasn’t been successful. We’re not set up for it. New ordinance, violation and a fine, easier to enforce. 
  • Most controversial issues: orders imposed by authorities during emergency. I was hoping some of those measures would be amended, to appease public concern. Added language from Assembly might help quite a bit
  • Emergency ordinance is important part of the code, can amend to be less contentious.
  • Authority over businesses, community gatherings? Community plan would address that, no plan to enact mandate without approval of Assembly. State mandates closed businesses, schools, restricted travel, Borough had to enforce them. Those didn’t originate here; they came from the Governor’s office. We don’t know what will be needed, but the community plan will provide some guidance. Not mandates that cause trouble (to businesses).
  • With small adjustments like masks and social distancing, we can keep businesses open, live through this. 
  • If people follow health guidelines, hopefully live through this

Liz Bacom with the Petersburg Medical Center

  • 1817 tests – 26% of population
  • 2 active, but not in town
  • 286 pending 
  • Getting better, still high number pending – from Airport, from cannery workers, asymptomatic testing 
  • Added another lab, so hopefully improvement in turnaround time 
  • Long lines at Post Office with shortened hours, any recommendations? Get your mail at any time. Use app called Inform, to see when your package is there
  • Masking helps businesses by keeping shoppers safe.
  • If you are contacted by a State contact tracer that you may have been exposed (Note: due to HIPAA restrictions they will not say who), call the COVID hotline, to get information and get tested if needed.

Erica Kludt-Painter Superintendent of Petersburg School District

  • Met with medical staff and continuing to work on protocols, guidance, make it all work.  
  • We’re on the right track: new guidelines for screening
  • New survey out – open and asking for responses
  • Going through responses, majority wants to support as much in-person school as possible
  • Everything the community does to keep risk low, school can have more flexibility and options for in-person school
  • Working through schedules, with lower numbers of students together, low risk – fewer students or more staff and more space – looking at both options. For example, alternative days for classes, 
  • Putting in a request to Assembly for CARES Act money 
  • More people are needed to teach smaller groups, also online. We have the technology infrastructure to have families/students learn remotely.
  • We want as much in-person instruction as possible, but things could change (i.e. outbreak like Seward) and we have to be prepared to switch to remote learning. 
  • Hoping to get some possible schedules out in the next week, have a Board meeting next week for feedback, so people can make some choices, get things staffed, move forward

Liz Cabrera – Petersburg Economic Development Council

  • Alaska CARES Program – Small business grants program meeting on Aug. 7 at 12 noon – Zoom meeting – to address questions and support for applying for funds  – posted on the Borough website
  • Alaska Bar Association – Launched a free hotline for legal issues – Mon, Wed, Friday – 6-8pm non-criminal, legal questions  – 844 263-2849 (on Borough website)
  • Federal Compensation of $600 is expiring this week, July 25
  • Mortgage relief and protection: various programs to assist, on resource page
  • Congress is working on the next coronavirus relief bill – still negotiating, a lot of issues around unemployment payments, PPP loans, testing, funding for schools and childcare. Appears a reduction of payroll tax will not be part of it
  • Expect to see something in writing next week from Senate Republicans, quite contentious, so will take awhile
  • Aug 8 deadline for processing PPP loans, unless Congress acts
  • There was that change for commercial fishing to include payroll in loan amount
  • Alaska CARES program runs til November, still has quite a bit of funding

Highlights on the COVID-19 show for Friday, July 17:

From the borough’s incident commander Karl Hagerman:

There are no active cases in the community! – a milestone. The cases previously announced for this community those are recovered.

The state has a lag time for announcing cases, a day or so behind Petersburg’s announcement. But the state does link to Petersburg’s announcement, helping identify it as the same case.

The borough is discussing next steps, looking at new documents submitted by Petersburg Medical Center on additional protective measures in community and a plan for increasing recommended measures if cases increase. They’re discussing options around a mandate vs guidelines – leaning toward recommendations for masks, limited number of people at gatherings, etc. Hagerman says he knows people are tired of mandates, aware of pushback in the community. One note, the green, yellow, orange and red system in place at the medical center is only for the medical center but the borough may look into a similar system for the community as a whole.

Petersburg Medical Center’s director of nursing Jennifer Bryner:

The medical center has 1619 tests completed, that’s 25.1% of the population tested. There are 0 active cases and 310 tests pending.

Turnaround time can really vary, from a day or two up to 2 weeks. She says there’s no rhyme or reason to that, the tests are being sent to the same lab and sometimes coming back quicker than others. They are looking at alternative labs and other options to improve turnaround time. It’s a nationwide issue, huge backlog

The medical center can only do two rapid tests at a time. It takes an hour to run and they don’t have staff don’t have staff to do more than 16 tests per day. So can’t do everyone as a rapid test. They are prioritizing those for people who are symptomatic, in an emergency or hospitalized.

The continue to look for testing supplies, analyzing inventory, doing well right now but its a balance to have supplies in the long run.

The medical center is currently in yellow status for its color system. It was red over the Fourth of July weekend with an increase in cases locally and many tests pending. They added a fourth color orange to their system and were at that level until last Wednesday. It will take a downtown in cases elsewhere in Alaska to get the medical center back to green light status.

School superintendent Erica Kludt Painter:

The school survey continues and she appreciates people participating. The district had another meeting of the stakeholder group last night – parents and community members are giving feedback and questions on school reopening.

Kludt-Painter says they are coming up with contingency plans and realize what looks good on paper may not play out in real life.  She asks families to hang in and her goal is consistency. It’s easier to loosen plans, than start up school and have to switch to distance only like the spring. The next round of guidelines should be published in a week or so and distributed to families for feedback

The Petersburg Economic Development Council’s Liz Cabrera:

The Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster grant and loan program – all emergency cash has been distributed, but people can still apply for the loan program.

The Alaska CARES program – businesses can apply who have not received CARES funding from other sources. They are waiting for new guidelines.

Businesses looking for short term cash – payroll taxes can be deferred until 2021. Business should document all costs, expenses, staffing, etc to apply for new programs coming online. The latest unemployment numbers from the Alaska Department of Labor show 13.4% unemployment in Petersburg in June. That’s down from 15.4% in June although that drop is skewed by an increase in overall workforce numbers.  The region has 13.1% and Alaska 12.3% unemployment for June.

Highlights from the 50th COVID-19 show on KFSK, Friday, July 10, 2020:

The borough’s incident commander Karl Hagerman wanted to clarify some confusion on the number of positive cases for Petersburg. The latest is a Petersburg resident in Washington state. That person is not in Petersburg but is counted for this community and will not return here until recovered.

In total there are 6 resident cases and three non-resident cases. Of that there are two active resident cases and two non-resident active cases.

The borough assembly will meet Wednesday, July 15 at noon for its first regular meeting of the month. To comment call in during the meeting at 800-954-0633 or email assembly@petersburgak.gov That meeting will include the second reading and public hearing for a permanent ordinance on the borough’s emergency powers and responsibilities. There’s also a vote on CARES Act funding for asymptomatic testing for the resident workforce in seafood processing. There should also be a discussion on a plan for responding to a future outbreak.

  • Have they started asymptomatic testing yet? Yes, they have – first round of testing has happened, but they need assembly approval to continue the testing program
  • Is other CARES Act funding that the borough has received going toward local businesses – are other companies eligible or interested? Like paying for masks in local businesses? Yes, we’re looking at a program to provide PPE masks and gloves to businesses. Supply chains are tough (limited). They are looking into a program to do that, help local businesses and working to get masks from federal government, but don’t know when that will be.
  • Other opportunities? Liz Cabrera can talk about assistance programs, like the childcare program rolled out funded by the CARES Act. Even though Petersburg’s CARES money is large – $3.9 million – but not unlimited, so considering many projects to make that money go the furthest. Want to be strategic. Plan is not flushed out yet.
  • Some committee or EOC making that decision? EOC command team looking at the allocation of that $3.9 million.
  • Is the borough’s non-congregate sheltering program being used? No, no first responders or healthcare workers using that program. Some homeless people in April, none recently. Likely because of the quick test turnaround we were seeing. The program is still in place, if needed.
  • Is it an option for worker or business patron use that program? Like sport fishing lodge guest? No, because this program is funded by FEMA. Visitors are not eligible, they have to quarantine at their own expense. People should think about that before visiting Alaska
  • As for the cruise ship season, American Cruise Lines announced it would not be sailing in Alaska this summer, are any cruise ships stopping? One remaining company – Lindblad wants to stop in Petersburg in late August, with possibly nine port calls. That could change. They might cancel. Their plan was to stop only for supplies, fuel and water, not planning to disembark passengers

Public Health Nurse Erin Michael:

  • A question from a listener, hearing from Dr. Anne Zink that Alaska contact tracers are overwhelmed, is that affecting Southeast Alaska cases? Are local cases able to be traced as thoroughly as before? Can the Medical Center take over that tracing? Yes, uptick is affecting everyone. But the state is moving toward a centralized model and bringing new contract tracers onboard all the time. But they have had to adjust how often they’re reaching out to people – people in quarantine without symptoms are not called again.
  • Is the state doing contact tracing for all Alaska residents and Alaskans outside of the state, in Washington state for instance? – Yes, that interview will still happen. If you’re out of state, your contacts are out of state, then those state contract tracers will take over
  • With the number of cases going up across the US, it is so important to remember to take measures to protect yourself and others – social distancing, wear a mask, stay home when sick. They are seeing more people who are asymptomatic spreading the virus. Just assume you’re infectious, take precautions.

Petersburg Medical Center

  • Matt Pawuk reports total testing numbers: 1,399 total completed, 342 outstanding, 23.7% of local population tested 
  • 758 locals tested
  • 243 non-locals 
  • 280 individuals have been tested multiple times
  • Is there a big increase in people seeking tests? Yes because asymptomatic testing has increased
  • There is an increase in turnaround time – labs are struggling to keep up with volume 
  • Hows the screening at the airport going? Going well. Generally people happy we’re there, learn about the process. Non-invasive, straight forward process
  • For Petersburg Medical Center CEO Phil Hofstetter: would you like to see an outbreak plan? Yes, we’ve talked about this a few months ago, and the idea was to have a plan of flexibility. If things are trending down, less restrictions. If there’s an uptick, then act accordingly. A plan allows us to have built in flexibility. The uptick in cases right now, is concerning. 
  • Pending tests, visitors, new positive cases – all concerning
  • Are testing turnaround times improving? Yes, it’s a challenge. Increased volumes has bogged down commercial labs, state labs, contact tracing also is more complicated.There are a lot of factors. We’re monitoring it closely
  • Would the PMC to do contact tracing? No, they’re leaving it to the state. Need training, prefer state do it

Petersburg School District superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter:

  • What’s the update on reopening? There’s lots of planning going on, looking at options and possibilities and requirements. They are at the mercy of levels of cases in the community. 470 students, families and homes is challenging. Sending out a second survey to families today, and meeting with the medical center to talk through protocols, navigate health information. Guidance from CDC, Health and Social Services, American Pediatrics, need to determine how to approach all age groups. Request patience, and it’s not a political conversation for the school district. Will not engage in a political discussion on these topics, they are focused on delivering education. Have to protect adults too, protect workforce to have school
  • New information on the virus being airborne and importance of ventilation? Yes, we’re so fortunate. We went through the process last fall with a brand new filter system, now implementing those upgrades. Our systems are in great shape. Water fountains in place too. Learning about dividers, making it practical for students and school setting.
  • The school board may schedule a work session for late July once plans for reopening classroms are clearer
  • Question: If we’re testing cannery workers, can we expand that to people (workers) at restaurants and liquor stores or people in contact with tourists? Karl Hagerman responds, yes, the program to test seafood processors was designed as its an economic driver of the town, higher risk setting. It would be worth looking into that idea for workers in other businesses. 

Petersburg Economic Development Council’s Liz Cabrera:

  • President Trump signed an extension of the Payroll Protection Program – The Small Business Administation is now accepting new applications through Aug 20 (new, who haven’t applied yet)
  • The Alaska CARES program is for businesses and organizations who have not received other federal support. They’re waiting to see if eligibility changes. She encourages people to look it up, might have more flexibility
  • The housing relief program through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation received 8000 applications and closed last week. Some residents are near the top of the list. They will be contacted by the Salvation Army for more information. AHFC expects to disperse funds in late July or early August.
  • The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority launched a new loan program – work through local bank and extend peoples credit to address working capital needs. There’s a link on Borough website
  • IRS impact payments – letters going out to people who’ve received debit cards, who have not activated it. If lost, they can replace it. The borough website has a link to photo of letter, to watch out for.
  • State of Alaska: new information for business – “COVID Conscious” for employers on how they’re keeping their employees safe. There’s a link on the borough’s website.
  • The borough also has a survey for people past due on utility bills and would like to know need, to provide support
  • The state of Alaska and the Alaska Community Foundation: New non-profit relief fund for non-profits that provide essential services. Info coming on the borough’s website 

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Thursday, July 2, 2020:

Petersburg Borough Emergency Operations Center:

*The EOC was alerted to a guest at Rocky Point Resort who entered the community on the 29th of June and received a positive COVID-19 test result yesterday.  Contact tracing is underway. It sounds like the party was mostly self-guided and relatively isolated. The risk from this particular positive case is fairly low. The individual is currently in quarantine and will remain in isolation until they test negative.  They are extending their stay to accommodate the need to recover and test negative. This situation shows the screening system is working and is in place for a reason. The potential spread around the community could have been much worse. We commend Rocky Point Resort for submitting their plan to the state and following that plan.

* The season’s first ferry arrives very soon.  The ferry system requires a travel declaration form in Bellingham. Passengers will have to pre-test and have proof of their negative result with them before they get on the boat. This renders moot the need for a COVID-19 testing station at the Ferry Terminal in Petersburg.  Arriving ferry travelers will be able to get their second test at the airport.

*For Monday’s Borough Assembly meeting there will be consideration of another memorandum of agreement to use CARES funds in support an asymptomatic testing program for the fish processor workforce who live in town year-round.  The transient workforce is well-tested, but the borough wants to provide some financial support for a testing program of the resident workforce (around 120 persons).   The resident workforce is moving around the community so there is a risk of picking up the virus in the community and bringing it into the plant. The EOC is looking to help support the industry through a testing program of this kind.

Petersburg Medical Center:

*Alert level status at the medical center is holding at Yellow.  

*Who is able to get a rapid test? Airport related travel tests are pretty much all going to be sent to a reference lab where turnaround times have gone up dramatically (testing times have increased across the country as labs are having a hard time keeping up with the surge of tests and positive cases). For other testing, like when a person has symptoms, they go through the medical center COVID hotline, and a physician makes the determination of what test needs to be done. Those with symptoms who are tested are able to have their tests pushed ahead in the queue as the need for those results is more urgent.  If people are ill they should call the hotline, 772-5788, and be evaluated.

*A caller on the last show at concerns about blood oxygen levels and breathing CO2…are masks safe?  Medical staff have been wearing masks all day every day for months. It is not a proven fact that masks drop your oxygen levels. For the majority of people who can do normal activity. Masking is very safe. With the caveat that some people should not mask, including those with a condition that creates difficulty breathing, and people who have cognitive delays like advanced dementia. If you can’t or don’t want to wear a mask, then keep your social distance.  

*Also, you really want to keep your social bubble small and manageable. It hits a community hard when a positive case exposes large groups of people. Social bubbles have evaporated for many folks, and it is a dangerous situation for communities when contact tracers have to try to quarantine 40 people or so.   That is something to keep in mind going into this weekend.

Petersburg School District:

*The school district has received quite a few follow-up calls and questions following the first stakeholders meeting. A second survey for families is being prepared.

*Some information came out recently from the American academy of pediatrics. How to apply those recommendations while following the health care guidance from the state and feds is a difficult question.

*Risk to staff is a consideration. The district has staff who fall into high-risk categories, and we don’t have a very large sub pool.  

Petersburg Economic Development Council:

*Congress has moved to extend the application deadline for the PPP loan program to August 8th. The president still has to sign that, but that should add a few weeks of opportunity to apply for that program.   

*For their economic impact payment, some folks will be receiving a prepaid debit card rather than a paper check. A concern is that this card somewhat resembles a credit card offer junk mail item.   If you accidently threw it away, if it was lost or destroyed, there is a way to reapply. Details are available on the IRS website. If you are expecting a check, keep a close eye on your mail.

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Friday, June 26, 2020:

Petersburg Borough Emergency Operations Center:

*This week there are some new resources available from the state: a toolkit for businesses with signs and materials to inform customers and help with social distancing practices in the businesses.

*The EOC sent out a big info packet and letter to local lodges, bed and breakfast, charters, hotels, all the businesses in contact with out-of-state visitors to Petersburg, to try and provide these visitors with the info they need, especially with regard to interstate travel Mandate #10.  

*There is one active case of COVID-19 in Petersburg at the moment. That one case is still isolated and quarantined, not yet considered recovered.  So far, no other positive test results have been produced through the local fish processor workplace testing programs.

*The interstate testing of asymptomatic travelers arriving at the airport is also available for those arriving by sea. Those travelers can receive that Mandate #10 COVID-19 test at the airport (with the cost covered by the State) and can also claim their State voucher for a second test.  That second test is also available for interstate travelers arriving by Ferry.

*All ferry travelers riding from, or to, Bellingham are currently required, before boarding the ferry, to present a negative test result from within three days prior before boarding.  

*Dave Berg called with more info about testing on ferries. Folks coming from Anchorage area, crossing the Gulf of Alaska, also need to get pre-boarding testing too. A list of testing locations for ferry travelers in Skagit Country, Bellingham, Whittier, and Anchorage area is available on the website Alaskaferry.com

*A caller notified the panel that today Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz issued an emergency order requiring people in the city of Anchorage to wear masks in public indoor spaces. The Borough experienced tremendous pushback to the first local mask mandate. The community has become increasingly intolerant of restrictions. Therefore unless there was prolonged community transmission in Petersburg, it would probably be hard to get a local masking mandate reestablished in Petersburg. Local comments about a masking mandate are welcomed by the Assembly ahead of their next scheduled meeting at noon on Monday, July 6th where they  will also be considering the second reading and public hearing regarding the Emergency Ordinance.

Petersburg Public Health Nursing:

*Alaska’s COVID-19 numbers continue to rise and are not likely to drop soon, because people are fatigued with the measures needed to contain the spread of COVID19. When community transmission is happening, and travelers are coming in and out, and the public is not practicing the basic mitigation behaviors ( including increased hand washing, social distancing, limiting close contacts, and facial coverings) you will see an increase of cases. That is what we are now seeing, across Alaska and across the country.

*Worth mentioning that the CDC did officially increase their listing of signs and symptoms of COVID19 to include runny nose, nausea, and diarrhea.

*If you are sick please, please do not go out in the community.

Petersburg Public Health Nursing:

*Local PMC testing numbers are 804 tests performed, 699 negative, 3 recovered, and 102 pending, those higher pending numbers are related to the increased number of asymptomatic testing. These numbers don’t include testing done outside of PMC, such as the on-site testing done by fish processors.

*Turnaround time for tests have increased lately. PMC is fortunate to send tests out to a commercial lab for test results, which had been turning around in 2-3 days. Now, those times are going up somewhat, but they’re still substantially faster than the currently backed-up state lab.

*Testing has been scaling up. PMC has received more Cepheid cartridges from the state. Medical center employees are now being tested on a regular schedule. PMC testing is ramping up for local seafood processors. And airport testing is happening, which is all putting a lot pressure on the PMC staff.

*Local asymptomatic testing is available through the COVID Hotline. Though testing is not currently available on a drive-up, on-demand basis. As testing resources are substantially being pointed at high risk populations including assisted living, first responders, and other local agencies.

*PMC wants to emphasize that, while using facial coverings to protect yourself and your community, do not forget about social distancing. Cloth facial coverings help reduce droplet transmission of the virus, but they are not perfect. Social distancing remains an essential prevention practice.

Petersburg School District:

*The school district held its first virtual stakeholder meeting last night with a large, diverse group of community members. It was a discussion of results and trends that were revealed from the data in the most recent survey put forth by the schools. The conversations were great. Good questions good comments. It was helpful for everyone to see the complexity that the schools face.  We’re trying to assess how much risk people are willing to accept as the school district tries to figure out how to get our programs running, working out schedules and mitigation plans, with the goal being as much face-to-face instruction that the schools can safely provide.

Petersburg Economic Development Council:

*The Department of Treasuring and SBA announced yesterday that they will allow fishing businesses to account for crewmember payroll when applying for PPP loans. Initially each crew member had to apply separately as a 1099 worker. Now a whole crew can be counted in one loan, but, there is only 4 days left in the program. That raises the question of if that change can be applied retroactively. That would depend on whether the applicant’s lender has already filed reimbursement paperwork with the Federal government, if so, the loan can’t be modified. But if that paperwork hasn’t been filed there is an opportunity to modify those applications, that’s how it stands as of today.

*Treasury has issued a deadline of October 15th for non-filers who still need to identify themselves to the IRS in order to receive that economic impact payment. The non-filer tool is available online at the IRS website. Also worth noting that the IRS is sending some of those payments out as pre-paid debit cards(which can be mistaken for junk mail), so please check your mail carefully if you are still expecting that payment.

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Friday, June 19, 2020

From the Borough’s Emergency Operations Center:

*Regarding the positive case identified yesterday by Trident’s workplace testing, the person and their roommate in are both isolated and monitoring for at least another 14 days and both must test negative for COVID19 before they can start work. As part of Trident’s plan, their whole workforce is sequestered from the community throughout the summer, so even when this individual is recovered they won’t be circulating in public.

*The U-turn on the North end of Main Street deserves some comment. It’s a necessary temporary change related to the outdoor screening stations for workers at the processing plant. This necessary screening backs up the flow of pedestrians at that location. In town folks are very used to using that u-turn, so this is a minor inconvenience to all, but disallowing the u-turn is necessary to keep that large workforce safe.  The u-turn will be re-allowed after the processing season is complete.  There is also an additional crosswalk partway up PFI hill. The plant is helping keep the community safe through their rigorous mitigation effort. This is a small necessary change is a thing we can all do to help keep them safe, too.

*Multiple callers expressed concerns about sport fishing lodges and charter businesses not upholding the standards for screening/testing/and quarantine for their customers traveling to town.  The EOC acknowledge receiving many questions about the lodges. To clarify, anybody coming from out-of-state into Petersburg must go through the screening process which includes the travel declaration, and testing requirements, or the quarantine. Everyone must turn in that form to the screeners at the airport. The EOC and Medical Center is reaching out to lodges and charters to make sure that everyone understands the mandates certainly do apply to them, too.   

*At the airport there are signs directing people to a greeter working to sort out who is traveling from out-of-state and needs to be directed to the tent. That’s where three more screeners are ready to review travel declaration forms, which every passenger must have, as well as reviewing proof of negative testing result. Then, those needing to receive a test are directed to the next tent over where medical center staff are set up to receive a consent form from the passenger to submit to the test, and then the sample is given to the medical center for testing or shipping. The contract with the state to provide that service was formally approved today at a special meeting.

*A caller asked if people arriving from in-state locations who have outbreak concerns can go through airport screening and have those costs covered by the state. Currently, no, the State is not paying for intra-state travel testing at the airport.  The medical center added, however, that anyone who has been travelling and is concerned about having been exposed to COVID19  can call the PMC 24-hour COVID Hotline (907) 772-5788 and arrange asymptomatic testing that way.

*A caller asked about lodges dropping of new arrivals at stores for supplies. There is a possibility that those arrivals have shown that they are recently tested with a negative result in hand. In which case, they would be clear by the current state mandate to circulate in the community.  If arrivals don’t have that recent negative test result, they need to get a test and quarantine until those results confirm they are negative. EOC would prefer that the lodge owners make arrangements for the local workers to do the shopping for supplies in advance and have the visitors get the fishing license ahead of time online, and so on, to help address that exposure concern from the community.

*A caller asked about the possibility of testing wastewater for COVID19. Reportedly there was a three week lag time for results when this was attempted in Ketchikan, which prevents that from being particular effective option at the moment.  There is a pilot program in development at the State of Alaska. Petersburg is on the list of communities interested in being involved, so it could become available for testing Petersburg wastewater in the relatively near future.

From the Petersburg Medical Center

*Latest testing numbers from the PMC lab include 597 tests administered, 37 tests pending, and three recovered. There is one active positive case in the community, but it is worth noting that tests administered by fish processing employers are not included in the PMC lab’s testing numbers.

*Testing for out of state arrivals at the airport is set up.  A reminder for those who get tested: quarantine is required until negative results are available. 

*There is no cost to passengers for the swab or lab work. That mandatory test’s cost is covered by the State, and that goes for the voucher-provided second test, too.

*A caller wanted to share their travel experience. They arrived yesterday from a stay in Washington, and they saw good enforcement of masking on board the aircraft. The plane was a bit crowded but people were distancing as much as able. Then coming through the airport, turning in the travel forms was pretty smooth.  She had hoped to get a test in Seattle, but was unable to make the arrangements without having a relationship with a health care provider there. Overall her experience travelling into Petersburg was good, and she wanted to complement the whole Petersburg EOC response to the pandemic.  

* Masking is for protecting the people around you, especially considering asymptomatic spread potential. Handwashing and not touching your face is still essential.  Time and distance is the most effective possible prevention behavior.  6 to 10 feet outside without a mask is recommended, but, indoors, when more people are concentrated in uncirculated air risk goes up fast.  Cleaning high touch surfaces is important

*Current hospital alert status color is Yellow, primarily because of local nonresident case and increasing numbers in the state and around us in Southeast.

*PMC is increasing staff testing, which is important since they spend a lot of time with the most vulnerable populations. 

* As we know more about the virus, we learn how much we don’t know. Things may change. We have to evolve with it and must stay kind to each other no matter how strong opinions might be.   

The Petersburg School District: 

*The survey that went out and has had a really good return rate. We appreciate the feedback and comments. We are moving forward with the conversation and planning for a stakeholder group, including a cross-section of community members, to review those survey results and hear concerns from the community regarding what the fall will look like at the school.   

*With strong opinions on all sides about what the schools should do, it makes it pretty challenging. As always we ask for patience while we work through it, trying to do our very best to provide a quality academic programs for Petersburg’s children, with your support and feedback, within the context of the guidance of the medical authorities.

Petersburg Economic Development Council

*AK Cares Grant program is in the progress of adjusting the program’s eligibility. They had initially indicated no business who had received any CARES Act funds would be eligible to apply, but they are going to change that and open eligibility for businesses who have received less than a total of $5,000 from PPP or EIDL money.  And if they received other CARES act funds such as unemployment funds from municipalities, they could still have eligibility. That’s a positive change for some businesses in town, who will now be eligible. PEDC will get that info out about the new application to use as soon as it’s available.  

*More good news, the SBA had stopped accepting applications for their Economic Injury Disaster Loan; they are now opened back up to applications from all different types of businesses again.

*And the PPP has a new, easier loan forgiveness application, with links available for that on the borough website: https://www.ci.petersburg.ak.us/index.asp?SEC=2A5866A9-DA2B-4459-8410-D2F8F7449C89&Type=B_LIST

*State unemployment numbers came out today.  Petersburg’s rate was 15.6% for April and 15.2% for May.  That is a little higher than the statewide rate of 12.6% statewide and the regional average of 13%. We are hoping to see a marked reduction in those rates for June. This winter unemployment numbers were around 9%, which was on the higher end for Petersburg. For May in 2019 unemployment was at 8.1% in Petersburg.

*Upcoming deadlines for applications: Housing assistance program deadline is coming soon: next Friday, June 26. There is still funding in the PPP program; the application window is open until June 30th. And the borough nonprofit stabilization program is open for applications until June 26.

* These programs are changing, expanding and contracting rapidly. The Borough website is the most effective way to stay as current as possible about these changes to programs for businesses.

 *A caller added more information for nonprofits in Petersburg.  If your organization is volunteer led, meaning no staff, and you meet the other AK Cares parameters, you DO quality to apply for AK Cares grant funds now. This is a change, so nonprofits are urged to look at AK Cares and make sure you understand what is available there.

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Friday, June 12, 2020:

Petersburg Borough Emergency Operations Center:

*The EOC was able to meet the plane last Saturday and successfully provide for the interstate greeting/screening procedure to meet the demands of the State’s interstate travel mandate #10. The initial process was set up on very short notice, and, since then, the pool of employees offering those screenings to incoming passengers has filled out more. There is someone greeting arriving passengers as they come through the terminal’s outdoor gate. Those traveling within the state can bypass the screening tent.

*There is not yet testing available at the airport. Arrivals from out of state or out of country fill out their travel declaration form, and present a negative test from within three days of boarding their flight, then receive a voucher for a second test to be taken within 7 to 14 days of arriving. Those who have arrived with test results are urged to minimize interaction in the community until their second test produces Negative results. Those who don’t have a test on hand are required to quarantine until their local negative results come back. If they can’t do a test locally, arrivals must quarantine for 14 days. Those who are arriving as part of a critical infrastructure workforce plan already filed with the state are simply required to follow the approved protective plan their companies have already laid out.

* So far the interactions have been good. The vast majority of people understand what the mandate says and what it means. At least at the airport they are following through with the screening questions and the travel declarations. We won’t know if travelers are abiding by the required quarantine. The governor is placing a lot of faith in Alaskans and our visitors to go by the honor system, and we will just find out how that works over time.

*Regarding the borough opening up more locally and closures related to possible COVID-19 exposures. We’ve developed a policy that says if we have a concern about a potential infection or exposure we will briefly close down. We are working with the medical center to develop policies which can confidently protect the safety of employees and the public while continuing to provide services without interruptions.  

*The EOC is hoping to purchase two mobile restroom trailers to improve handwashing and sanitation availability in town. Those trailers would likely be stationed in the municipal parking lot and at the crane dock parking lot. The trailers would remain useful for Petersburg long after COVID19. EOC is seeking approval from the Assembly for the purchase of those trailers. Nancy Berg called in to suggest that searching auctions for a pre-owned restroom trailer could save some expense. Though it is understood that just about every municipality is currently trying to get ahold of trailers such as these, so options are limited and they’re may be a wait.

*The emergency ordinance which established the EOC is set to expire at the end of next month. The Assembly will consider adopting the ordinance as permanent, which would mean that during a locally declared emergency, such as large scale natural disaster, there would be a structure in place to respond quickly in an organized fashion. Any emergency powers granted by the ordinance would only be in effect during a specifically declared local emergency.

*A caller asked when the community pool will reopen. There is an anticipated reopen date of August 15th. Staffing for Parks and Rec, specifically including lifeguards for the pool, is one of the current roadblocks to opening Parks and Rec facilities.     

Petersburg Economic Development Council:

* There’s a new state program out, Alaska Housing Relief through the AHFC, which provides up to $1,200 in rent or mortgage relief for Alaskans financially impacted by COVID-19. Applications are being accepted from June 15 through 26th. Rather than simply first come, first served, there will selection by lottery from the applications, followed by a review to confirm qualification. To find out more go to https://www.alaskahousingrelief.org/ or call 833-440-0420

*Application window closes on June 26th for Petersburg’s support program for nonprofits and childcare providers. This page contains more info for that program: https://www.ci.petersburg.ak.us/index.asp?SEC=E9DE86B9-9157-4F1E-9E27-12757B656891&Type=B_BASIC

*There are some changes to the PPP intended to increase flexibility; that is per recent action by the US Congress and the President. Businesses should look into those changes and check with their lenders.

*State of Alaska CARES funding is accepting applications currently, for those who have not received other CARES Act funding. Those applications are open (first come first served) until the funds are used up.

*Next week the state is releasing unemployment figures for May.

Petersburg Public Health Nurse:

* Contact tracing is going on across the state and that is keeping local Public Health quite busy.

*Everyone is urged to not get complacent. Please take the recommendations, even if not mandatory, wear facial covering, wash hands frequently, and keep your bubble small. You don’t want to quarantine for 14 days if you don’t have to.

*Regarding when there is a positive case identified on a flight: state epidemiology determines on a case-by-case basis through contact tracing who needs to be tested and quarantined, based on physical distance on the plane and other contact with an individual who later tests positive. It’s case by case.

*When a business is in contact with a positive case or suspected COVID exposure, there is recommended CDC and state epidemiology guidance about cleaning and closing following exposure, but mitigation substantially comes down to the business’ discretion.   

Petersburg Medical Center:

* Current testing numbers: 435 tests conducted locally, 421 negative results, 3 recovered cases, and 11 results outstanding.

*PMC is trying to adapt as changes come. Every time there is a new system to try and work on there is a difficult trickle-down effect on PMC staff. As asymptomatic testing ramps up in the facility, the goal is to put processes in place in a sustainable way.

*There are a lot of logistics, especially to ensure that procedures which satisfy state mandates are accurate and dependable. It is important that local physicians are involved in the process, as opposed to just putting Dr. Anne Zink’s name on a collected sample and sending it off to the state, as some municipalities are forced to do to comply with mandates.  

*It is important to use our limited testing supplies and staffing resources to test the right folks. Compared to many places though, PMC’s supplies for testing are good and are getting better. We are receiving more cartridges and the medical center is looking to scale up testing ability soon by adding a 4-bay Cepheid testing unit to the local lab.

Petersburg School District:

*School meals are happening and summer school plans are coming together pretty well.

*The regions schools are talking regularly about figuring out activities and plans for the fall. The admin team is meeting twice a week with the state.

*A local survey went out today. The district wants to hear from families about their needs and concerns and what they think will work best for the fall while meeting the guidelines from the state. The surveys aren’t very long and everyone is encouraged to participate. That feedback from families is important. As more information becomes available from the state there are likely to be a few more surveys during the summer.  Collaborating and involvement is invited and necessary to figure out what will work best.  Here is a link to the survey: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1UAHd1WX1qLwQMJ_tw6fkMdEm3-kNwiOtxCE5FUBjH2o/viewform?ts=5ed31781&edit_requested=true

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Panel Show on Friday, June 5, 2020:

From the Borough’s Emergency Operations Center:

*Regarding the newly issued provisions of the State’s Mandate #10 – testing in place of quarantine for travelers:  We were operating under the assumption that the state had a masterplan plan in place to contract with companies to come into communities and provide greeting/screening/testing services to meet the new mandate for testing of incoming travelers. It turns out the State’s plan was to contract with Petersburg, and with every other community, to make that testing happen.  We received that information three days before the system was supposed to be in place at the airport.  So, we are working hard on it, trying to figure out what we can pull together on extremely short notice.

*Testing for arriving travelers will not be in place tomorrow or this weekend.  The goal is to have testing available at the airport in the near future.  That is expected to be ready approximately by late next week, at earliest.   

*Anybody coming into Petersburg from out-of-state or out-of-country, who doesn’t have a negative test result in hand upon arrival, or isn’t included in part of an essential workforce plan already in place with the state, will need to quarantine, just as they have prior to this latest change in the State’s mandate.

*To reemphasize, the change in quarantine requirements from the State does not apply to workers traveling as part of critical infrastructure workforce, including seafood processers. Those employees are still required to follow their company’s reviewed community protective plan on file with the State.  

*The State’s updated plan includes vouchers for the second test required to avoid quarantine. But those vouchers are something to be provided by the State, and Petersburg’s EOC has yet to receive further information about vouchers for a traveler’s second test.

*The mandate also extends to incoming passengers on the ferry system, as well as any other form of transportation, private planes or yachts, etc.  Right now, the airport is the more urgent focus of rolling out this testing plan.

*EOC has been receiving many calls from people wondering if tests are going to be available when they get here, because asymptomatic testing has not expanded very much in the lower 48. The best we can say at the moment is that a person coming to Petersburg will need to plan on quarantine if they are not able to arrive with their negative test result.

*There is language in the revised mandate pertaining to Alaska residents who are traveling out of state for less than five days. They are not required to present the proof of testing, but, if they don’t, they must quarantine for 14 days.

*Regarding enforcement and oversight:  The same penalties from the prior mandate are in place. If someone violates the mandated provisions they are still potentially subject to a $25,000 fine. Though there is not a lot of active enforcement going on across the state, as the State has opted to emphasize education over enforcement.  Penalties will come into play if there is an outbreak and through contact tracing it is determined that another person’s sickness or death is created by someone’s actions or inactions.

*The EOC continues to recommend practicing social distancing and face coverings.

From the Petersburg Medical Center and Public Health:

*Current testing numbers in Petersburg: 348 tests conducted, 325 negative, 20 currently pending, 3 recovered.

*If a person wants a validation on paper of their own test results they can request on from the PMC Lab, and PMC is working on a developing a good way for people who need those lab results emailed to them. 

*As local testing ability increases, asymptomatic testing can ramp up, focusing on high risk populations first. Symptomatic testing is the priority right now.

*PMC is operating a very efficient facility with tight margins. Every new demand is difficult to meet.  There is a lot of tension, but we’re all trying to do the right thing and react in the right time frame.

*Going forward we know that asymptomatic testing is ramping up.  It’s important that we do this the right way. And it’s important to remember that a test is just a snapshot in time.  

*The data shows COVID has a much higher death rate than influenza. It is important that people not discount it. Predictive models are constantly changing based on testing availability and results, which vary dramatically by area. Across the United States, approximately half of the counties, mostly in rural areas, do not have testing available at all. The Alaska Department of Health has reliable information about testing, and in Petersburg we have good testing capability.   

*The Medical Center strongly urges people to get the flu shot this year. We don’t need people presenting with Flu and Influenza.   

* We want to articulate that we don’t have all the answers. This is a situation that is evolving and it is important for us to be transparent about working to keep up with rapid fire changes … Folks need to be flexible in their mindsets and remain kind … We’re doing the best we can to provide the best information available as it comes forward.  

From the Petersburg School District:

*School is out. Teachers are nearly done, and the rest of the district staff are working with guidelines from the State and are working to figure out what the plan for the fall will look like.

*Guidelines for the fall are coming together, related to low-medium-and high risk levels, with parameters designed to be responsive to conditions in each community.  That publication is out and available for people to read.  

*Most of the guidance does recommend keeping social distance space and continuing masking.

* The district is planning to send a series of surveys out to collect feedback from parents across the community about challenges and barriers folks are facing, especially if we are on some kind of hybrid schedule. We’re trying to figure out what we can all do together to support our families and our kids while we work to abide by the guidelines we are given. More about these guidelines will be discussed at the schoolboard meeting coming up this Tuesday. 

*Summer meals are continuing. We received some good news on that as well. We’ve qualified for USDA support to be able to provide meals to all of our kids in the district free of charge. We are excited about that.

*Summer school is happening now in partnership with the library’s program, there is a small number of kids meeting with some aides on site, working on reading.  There are more sessions in the works for students with more intensives needs. So far, so good, in developing those protocols.

*Hope everyone gets out and enjoys the good weather this weekend.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Wednesday, June 3, 2020:

From the Petersburg Borough:

* The existing State Mandate #10 [quarantine for interstate travel to Alaska] is extended through midnight Friday.  At which time it is replaced by a new mandate from the state requiring a negative COVID test result from within 3 days of boarding the plane to Alaska or at the airport upon arrival. If no test is available for incoming passengers, the 14-day quarantine is required.

*Unfortunately there still isn’t a whole lot of guidance out yet from the state regarding those changes and how the plans are meant to be implemented in for Petersburg. The EOC has a phone call with the state scheduled for this afternoon, to hopefully get us up to speed about what they are planning.

*These changes from the state do not appear to affect the workforce protection plans and the protocols that have established for workers who have come into the state.

* To quote Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, “Open never meant over.” 

*The most important thing we can all do is be kind and respectful to one another, so that we can all get through this the best we can.

*The Petersburg Public Library is opening next week, and the Harbor restrooms have opened. EOC is also looking at trying to add more portable restrooms and handwashing stations at different locations.  We’re hoping that opening the harbor restrooms will be a good thing for everyone down on the water.

*Also, if anyone is looking for work, as a vital part of reopening, the Borough is hiring custodial positions for cleaning at public facilities, with a starting wage over $17. Interested parties should contact Borough HR.

From the Petersburg Economic Development Council

* The state business support grant program called AK Cares just came online a few days ago and they are currently accepting applications. Folks are urged to look carefully at those applications; for example, businesses that have secured funding from the SBA’s PPP, EIDL, or other federal funding programs under the CARES Act are not eligible to apply. But businesses are urged to review the eligibility requirements and, if qualified, apply ASAP. These assistance grants are first come, first served.  

*Also important to note, the application for forgiveness of the PPP loans has been released.

*Senator Murkowski has announced that she will attempt to add some additional funds for fisheries businesses that weren’t able to access PPP funding.

*Regarding the direct payments from the IRS, if you haven’t filed a tax return in the last two years and aren’t receiving certain benefits such as Social Security or certain Veterans benefits, then the IRS doesn’t have the necessary information to deliver your Economic Impact Payment. The IRS website is where you can provide the details necessary to receive that payment.   

From the Petersburg Medical Center

*Current testing numbers: 320 tests conducted, 296 negatives, 3 recovered, and 21 tests pending results. PMC has been increasing asymptomatic testing in order to work out some of the processes to meet the needs of the community.

* PMC currently has a Cepheid quick turnaround testing machine, with a certain amount of cartridges, around 250, specifically allocated for fisheries workers, and another 600 or so from the state for asymptomatic testing. We are hoping for more cartridges and are working to reduce turnaround times and provide for adequate staffing for that work.

*The alert status is at Yellow currently. That is due to the sharp uptick in cases across Alaska this week. The numbers statewide have almost doubled from last week.  The status means some limitations are in place related to certain appointments, such as prevention appointments that may need to be rescheduled or provided via telehealth.

*Red status would be triggered by an outbreak of 2 or more cases in Petersburg or if a staff member of the medical center tested positive. The determination of statuses has some flexibility, with consideration given to levels of cases in areas surrounding Petersburg as well as the rate and nature of hotline calls.

* Everyone is urged to keep an eye on your symptoms. Don’t ignore your body. The hotline is there for you to call and talk to health care staff to get advice and find out if testing is necessary: 772-5788.

*Stay active and healthy while maintaining social distance. Get outside and log your miles to participate in the Petersburg Goes the Distance challenge. More info at www.pmcak.org

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Friday, May 29, 2020:

American Cruise Lines-CEO Charles Robertson (Wants ships to visit Petersburg this summer):

*We’ve been working with a number of states around the country. We’re working with each town and tour provider. We’re working with each port to tailor our visits to the community’s needs. We are voluntarily reducing the capacity of our ships by 25 percent. That means we can spread passengers more in the dining room and conduct smaller group tours.

*The 14-day quarantine is set to expire next week, June 2. Our operating plan is contingent on the state’s quarantining rule being lifted for our passengers.

*We plan to test passengers and staff before they get on board. Passengers will submit a test result before they travel. The State of Alaska has talked about testing once passengers get in Juneau, which we would support also.

*There will be regularly medical screenings on board, which will include temperature tests and check of symptoms. If they have either they will be tested, either through tests we will be carrying with us or they test onshore somewhere.

*Passengers do plan to get off the ships. It is an important part of the economic impact to the communities. We are working closely with the communities for that to be done safely.

*Canada’s extension of its cruise ship ban doesn’t affect our American flag ships that don’t go to other countries.

*If someone has a positive test on board, if they don’t need hospitalization we would isolate them onboard. If they do need more medical care we would airlift them to either Juneau or Seattle. We would work on contact tracing with people they have been in contact with on board. Passengers who have not been in contact with the person would be allowed to continue on their cruise unless it was medically necessary to quarantine everyone.

*We are seeing a lot of demand for Alaska and we have more demand since the larger cruise ships have canceled. Our numbers have remained strong.

*It’s not a demand to meet the first deadline. We’re okay to extend the first cruise dates if needed. We’re hoping to work with Alaska and its communities and as we get closer to the dates, change them if needed.

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has collected 274 samples for COVID-19 in Petersburg. The results are:  267 negative, 3 recovered, and 4 tests pending.  (7.3 percent of the community has been tested at least one time)

*Two of the state’s new cases are in Juneau and they are currently under investigation.

*Biggest focus is on our asymptomatic testing and our supplies so that we can do that. We are hoping for 600 testing cartridges to arrive.

*We are still at a 25 percent of our volumes but we are seeing outpatient numbers go up. We are down on our ER and inpatient capacity, which is expected.

*We implemented our red, yellow, green protocols internally so we can have actions in place.

*We would love to be able to help with testing cruise ship passengers if we had the supplies to do it.

Petersburg Public Health Nursing:

*Once you have the virus it’s not going to get worse by rebreathing the air in your own mask. If you have the virus rebreathing the air in a mask won’t make the person sicker.

*You want to make sure you’re using a proper mask that is made of breathable material. There is little risk of hypoxia, which is not getting enough oxygen, only if you didn’t have a breathable material. If you aren’t sure if it’s medically safe for you to wear a mask, you can check with your provider.

*Keep your bubble small in terms of the people that you are in contact with.

Petersburg Borough:

*American Cruise Lines have a very comprehensive plan; it’s obvious that they are taking this very seriously. They are very serious about operating safely and that the communities, passengers, and crew are all safe. One thing to remember is that plans are great but the follow through is what is important.

*It’s really anybody’s guess as to whether or not the state will extend its requirement for a 14-day quarantine for travelers coming from out of state. It’s scheduled to expire Tuesday, June 2. We’ve heard rumors that the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement will expire and we’ve heard rumors that it will be extended.

*If the quarantine requirement does expire, we don’t know what it will mean for people who are currently under quarantine. Hopefully, the state would address those details.

*CARES Act funding for the borough will be limited to Covid related things. The borough is trying to identify what that could be. One thing that it could be, which is a fairly large number for us appears that funding for any public safety could be used. That would free up other general funds at the borough level.

*The Parks and Rec Department is planning to phase in its reopening. The tentative schedule includes: June 15 all parks, shelters and playgrounds will be open. August 1st will be a partial opening of the pool and gym. August 31 will be a full opening of the pool and gym.

*Continue good behaviors that we’ve all been practicing.

Petersburg School District:

*I know there is a lot of anxiety in terms of what it looks like in the fall. I know everybody wants the answers now. The benefit to waiting a bit is we’ll learn more about the virus and how it works. There could be more protocols in place that could help make school easier. Remember, no one wants school to look “normal” more than we do.

*We are working with our local preschools and providers, starting up conversations with them now so we can provide support to families.

*Meal service this summer is continuing but delivery details are different than during school.

*Summer school will start up next week at the library. We might dip our toes into some small groups with students to see how it goes; testing the water there and then making decisions for next year.

Other Helpful Information:

*Anybody can get tested who has ANY of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, a decreased appetite, diminished sense of taste or smell, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, rash, rigors, a runny nose, a sore throat, sputum production. Anyone with any symptoms is encouraged to call PMC’s 24-hour COVID-19 hotline (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls.

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office is short-staffed and has reduced counter hours M-F, 1-5:00 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Wednesday, May 27, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has collected 269 samples for COVID-19 in Petersburg. The results are:  261 negative, 3 recovered, and 5 tests pending. 

*There is a lot of ramping up around the state of asymptomatic testing and we are talking about how we can do it here. As areas are increasing their asymptomatic testing, they are identifying new people that have the virus. We are trying to retain more testing supplies here.

*Our medical staff has created a red light, yellow light, and green light policy. For example, if there are no cases in the town, we are at a green status and will allow some people who are working off site to come in and provide some out-patient services. We would still be keeping social distance.

*How to open safely takes not only the people working at the building but also the people who come and go from the facility. High touch areas need regular cleaning, more than once a day. Bathrooms need to be cleaned more regularly. Social distancing at six feet is important and facial coverings are also still recommended. There can be droplets that land on surfaces and masks can prevent that from happening.

*Symptoms can be very, very mild. Sometimes people have no fever and sometimes they have just a headache that they don’t think much about. Sometimes you can tie symptoms to something specific, like seasonal allergies. If you have any question about symptoms, people should call PMC’s 24-hour hotline: 772-5788.

Petersburg Public Health Nursing:

*There has been an increase in the number of people feeling suicidal in the state. Quarantining can be stressful and social isolation can impact people. Also, the news about the virus is tough to hear. It is normal to feel down at this time.

*If someone is feeling suicidal they can call these 24-hour help hotlines:

1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE)

1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)

There are also local therapists in town to talk to as well and they are confidential. True North Counseling at (907) 650-7292- and Petersburg Mental Health Services (907) 772-3332.

Petersburg Borough:

*The school district did an outstanding job with the graduation parade and ceremony Tuesday night. It was a combination in-person and virtual celebration. In light of the tough go that the seniors have had this year, it was really nice to see the number of people in the community who came out to participate. The volunteer fire fighters led the parade and had some fireworks at the end.

*We are continuing to absorb what the reopening in the community is looking like. A big part of the governor’s plan is the personal responsibility of individuals. There is a large expectation by the state for everyone to continue washing hands, staying 6 feet apart from others, wearing a facial covering if you can’t stay apart, and cleaning surfaces regularly.

*Borough Assembly will be discussing the harbor mandate, specifically regarding cruise ships. There are cruise ships wanting to visit in June and the borough should make sure that they are going to follow local and state mandates. Our goal is to protect our local population. We should take steps to ensure that people who get off the boats are healthy.

*Some borough lobbies are opening in the community. The lobby of the police department is opening. Public Works will open its lobby soon. The library will probably be open in a few weeks.

*Public meetings will likely be a combination of in-person and virtual meetings. It’s hard to get a large crowd in the assembly chambers while also following social distancing. We’re not sure exactly what it will look like. Planning and Zoning Commission will likely continue to meet over Zoom.

*There is a lot of focus on the State for incoming fish processing workers. The Borough’s EOC (Emergency Operations Center) is continuing to work with local processors and they are really trying hard to keep their workforce healthy.

*PMC’s red, yellow, green status could be tied into the borough’s plan with some type of pre-determined action; the assembly could pre-approve action for the borough according to what status the community is in at the time.

Petersburg School District:

*Graduation went well and we are very appreciative of the community for participating. It was a nice way to close out their time here as students.

*Wrapping up the school year; students are checking supplies back in to the schools this week.

*We have very little idea of what the fall will look like so we are watching the CDC and what the State is doing.

Other Helpful Information:

*Anybody can get tested who has ANY of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, a decreased appetite, diminished sense of taste or smell, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, rash, rigors, a runny nose, a sore throat, sputum production. Anyone with any symptoms is encouraged to call PMC’s 24-hour COVID-19 hotline (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls.

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office is short-staffed and has reduced counter hours M-F, 1-5:00 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Friday, May 22, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*Everyone in Long Term Care was tested for COVID-19 this week: 11 residents and 45 staff. No one had symptoms. All but one test was negative and one is still pending.  We would like to expand that kind of testing to more groups like first responders and seafood workers. But we just don’t have the supplies for a higher level of testing for asymptomatic people. We are looking at the highest risk people and that is Long Term Care.

*The main message from the State during the work session on Wednesday was about planning. Internally at the hospital we are looking at a color status—red, yellow, green—depending on what’s happening. The community can use that kind of alert as well and detail what each level means for the general public.

*There is strong evidence for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission. Asymptomatic is people who will never get symptoms and will never get sick but they can pass the virus along to others. Pre-symptomatic is people who will get sick and but don’t have symptoms yet. So, the purpose of the masking is not to take away people’s civil rights but it’s to protect the vulnerable people in the community.

*The State said the peak of coronavirus in Alaska was in mid-March.

Petersburg Public Health Nursing:

*Erin Michael is available to help businesses figure out how to work with the public safely.  

*Rachel Kandoll is part of a small group of nurses that the State has hired to make calls to people who are involved with testing. She will call people who either has the virus or was in contact with someone who had the virus.

*Wash your hands, increase your social bubble carefully, keep it small.

Petersburg Borough:

*Looking at the details of the State’s Phase 3 and 4. Some state mandates are now advisories and not mandates. All mandates were not removed. The State is strongly encouraging people to continue with the behaviors that people have been doing the last few months. Social distancing at 6 feet, if you can’t, wear a facial covering, wash your hands.

*The threat is still there so individuals need to be responsible.

*Businesses are responsible for making an effort to protect their employees and patrons that come through the door. There are details online about what businesses should be doing for phase 3 and 4.

*The State is saying that local communities need to come up with their own plans if there was an outbreak to occur and work with the state on that.

*State Mandate 17 for fishing vessels is still in place.

*State Mandate 10 for out of state travelers and seafood processors is still in place. It requires out of state travelers coming in to Alaska to quarantine for 14 days is still in place until June 2nd at least. That includes fishermen coming in for sports fishing and charters.

*Employees of businesses are advised to wear masks but it’s not required. The State has put it on the businesses to make the final decisions.

*The borough’s department heads are coming up with reopening plans. Not every department will be reopening at the same time. We are moving in that direction. Hopefully, some of the facilities will be open by mid-June.

*There are discussions about a 4th of July event. It probably won’t be like normal years.

Petersburg School District:

*The reopening of businesses in the state doesn’t affect the school now. The graduation ceremony on Tuesday will be the same. The guidance from the State for schools and daycares has not changed.

*Please participate in the vehicle parade from along-side the road and in your yards. A map of the parade route is online on the school’s website. During the parade, KFSK will be airing a playlist of music chosen by some of the seniors.

*The video will be watched by the seniors and their families at the ballfield after the vehicle parade. It is closed off to others. Everyone else can watch it online.

*Preparing for the fall is challenging. There are a lot of rules and regulations to work with and we will be working on that over the summer.

Other Helpful Information:

*Anybody can get tested who has ANY of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, a decreased appetite, diminished sense of taste or smell, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, rash, rigors, a runny nose, a sore throat, sputum production. Anyone with any symptoms is encouraged to call PMC’s 24-hour COVID-19 hotline (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls.

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office is short-staffed and has reduced counter hours M-F, 1-5:00 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Wednesday, May 20, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has collected 251 samples for COVID-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 244 negative, 3 recovered, and 4 test pending. 

Updates on testing capabilities:

–If you want a test you should still call the COVID hotline 772-5788 or the clinic. The state has said they would like PMC to increase its testing capacity. We are developing an asymptomatic testing but are not ready to roll it out yet. We are limited by the testing supplies that are provided.

–There should be no charge to the patient. They will bill insurance but if it doesn’t cover it there will be no cost to the patient.

–Test results are coming back now in about three days.

*On May 18, some federal guidance came out to the state on how to open up long term care facilities. There is a lot of planning to do before we open up fully. We have been advocating to open up and have some sort of visitations but it won’t be this Friday. Long Term Care will likely be opening up much later than general public places. Visiting might look a little different. It will likely require distancing and facial coverings.

*State plans to reopen this Friday morning but it is challenging as to whether PMC supports it. Health care tends to be conservative in our approach but the economy is important too.

*There is federal guidance through the program Play Every Day on how to safely expand your social circle.

Petersburg Borough:

*Meeting with state health officials in a work session about what’s happening with COVID-19 now. The state will do a short presentation. We should hear about the state’s approach on testing and what the future of that will be. They should be able to field questions today from the borough and the hospital. It’s set up as a ZOOM meeting and the public can listen. If people want to participate they can register through the borough’s website and submit questions. It’s part of the UAF ECHO program.

*State plans to fully reopen Alaska businesses and public facilities this Friday at 8 a.m. for places like gyms and libraries. Details for the reopening on Friday should be coming out Thursday however it is unclear if local municipalities can have different plans. It looks like the state is still expecting social distancing in public. We don’t know all the details of how the Governor envisions this to happen. We don’t know if all communities can reopen in a different or slower way. We aren’t sure if the Governor is expecting every community to follow this. There is a fair amount of guidance that we need from the state so the borough can offer that information up to local businesses.

*The borough is working on plans to reopen facilities. There was a tentative date for June 15 but there are no definite dates yet. All borough department heads are looking at what reopening will mean. We need to be careful when we open up to protect our employees. Just like all the businesses have to have a plan for social distancing, those state guidelines apply to the borough offices as well.

*Regarding sports, the ball fields are a Parks and Recreation facility. It’s hard to say how the Little League season will proceed. Until Parks and Rec has a good plan to open their facilities, it will stay closed.  

*Local mandates like the small cruise ship one in Petersburg can still be exercised. That mandate runs through June and requires cruise ships to get permission to dock in the local harbors in advance.

Petersburg Economic Development Council:

*SBA released the PPP loan forgiveness application. The link is on the borough website.

*State as part of its CARES funding is rolling out a grant program for businesses and 501C3 organizations that didn’t receive PPP loans or SBA injury loans. It will be on a first come first serve basis. The applications come online Thursday and they will start the accepting applications on May 26. The grant amounts are between $5,000-$100,000 based on eligible expenses.

*Still accepting applications for the PEDC aide programs. May 22 is the deadline for the sales tax rebate program and the PPP incentive grant program.

Petersburg School District:

*Academics time will be finished this Friday for the school district.

*Students will meet Tuesday to return their school supplies. The school district’s website has all of that information for each class.

*The vehicle parade is coming up next Tuesday, May 26, and the parade route is on the website. Now, it’s starting at 7:30 p.m.

*Scholarship presentations will be online this Thursday at 7 p.m. There is a link on the school district website.

*Don’t yet know what the start of school will look like. Everything is still on the table. There are a lot of ideas.

*Planning for activities and sports to be normal in the fall.

Other Helpful Information:

*Anybody can get tested who has ANY of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, a decreased appetite, diminished sense of taste or smell, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, rash, rigors, a runny nose, a sore throat, sputum production. Anyone with any symptoms is encouraged to call PMC’s 24-hour COVID-19 hotline (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls.

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office is short-staffed and has reduced counter hours M-F, 1-5:00 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Friday, May 15, 2020:

Icicle Seafoods (Julianne Curry)

*Icicle has formed a company task force aimed at internal and external COVID prevention and education efforts and is following all mandates.

*Icicle’s turned in a plan to operate to the state, which has been approved. The plan includes (but isn’t limited to):

–operating as a closed campus. Employees that live on the property have to remain on the property at all times except for designated that are conducting critical business off site.

–All employees are subject to daily temperature tests.

— Quarantine plan for all incoming employees. Seasonal employees through Seattle are only allowed to travel once they receive negative results

–Visitors are only business critical and complete necessary paperwork.

–Cookhouse operations have been modified and employees have been taught to social distance

–Employees will be quarantining in Petersburg after arrival, primarily at the bunk houses and different living facilities on the property.

*Having weekly calls with local public health officials and borough officials.

*We have similar plans as other processors in the state. We will use the local healthcare system. We are partners with our local medical providers and we want to work hand in hand with them. We have plans in place if a worker becomes sick.

*Worked hard to educate employees on company protocol on COVID practices. Our employees are taking this very seriously.

*We will be adhering to state mandate 17 and making sure that commercial fishermen have a signed form before any offload from them.

*Bringing in about the same number of employees as we usually do. They will be in batches so we can better keep them contained in the quarantine process. Including local people, there will be about 380 people at Petersburg Fisheries.

*Considering allowing limited trips to local stores in small groups when other residents aren’t around. We’re not anticipating a huge decline in local spending.

*It’s critical that we continue to operate so our employees are highly educated, they understand our protocols and their responsibilities.

*We would love to have additional local support this summer if anyone wants to apply for a job get a hold of the local office.

Trident Seafoods (Shannon Carol)

*The health and safety of our community, workers, and fishermen is our priority.

*Trident has had their operation plan approved by the State. It’s a living document and it is subject to change as we adapt to changing best practices and on the ground health conditions and testing technology and availability. We welcome community feedback on the plan. Plant Manager, Dave Ohmer can be reached at (907) 518-0313.

Trident’s workforce protection plan includes (but isn’t limited to):

-14-day monitored quarantine in Petersburg at a local hotel and local testing before workers go to work.

–Daily health and temperature screenings

–closed campus for all non-resident employees. All of the employees will either be staying on the property or walking to or from the housing or the cookhouse.

–Resident employees can live at home but still abiding by state and local mandates

–All protocols will be strictly enforced by condition of employment. Violators will be transported out of the community.

–fishermen will stay on their vessels during off loads

*Trident has been processing fish in Alaska since January. We feel pretty confident in our protocols, which are rigorous.

*The bulk of the Trident employees will be coming in on May 19th and then again on June 4th.

*We plan to fully adhere to state health mandate 17 for commercial fishermen and processors, Mandate 17. It’s certainly a requirement and we will be adhering to it. I think they did a really good job and included industry feedback in creating it. It’s a critical component of keeping everyone safe.

*We have a lot of work to do as we head into the salmon season but we are committed.

*We have isolation protocols in place if an employee became ill.

*We would like to hire local and encourage any resident to apply at Trident.

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has collected 186 samples for COVID-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 182 negative, 3 recovered, and 1 test pending. 

*Dr. Tuccillo is volunteering with the Borough’s Emergency Operations Center giving input on community responses to COVID. Dr. Tuccillo has been evaluating the plans that the local seafood processors have in place for this summer’s seasonal workforce. They look really good. The seafood processors have tried to help get testing supplies to town.

*Trying to ramp up asymptomatic testing. Internally, we are increasing availability for non-urgent appointments.

*We are looking at it like a green, yellow, red status and how we will be treating patients given the COVID situation in the community. If there are active cases in town, then we would What are those thresholds? What is the criteria? How can we safely pull back on some of these things that are opening up if needed? It’s kind of like watching the weather when you’re out on a boat and knowing when you’re going back in to port.

*The state and borough work session is still scheduled for next Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. Part of the conversation will be how businesses can reopen safely.

*Encourage people to call the COVID hotline (907) 772-5788 for any symptoms. Even mild ones should be considered.

*We’re finding that maybe there are cases where there are more than 14 days recovery. They call it a cryptic transmission or silent transmission when an asymptomatic person passes it along to another asymptomatic person.

Petersburg Borough:

*Watching state mandates for changes in requiring 14-day quarantines for out of state travelers. It’s either going to be extended or changed next Tuesday. We hope it continues because that is one of the best provisions in the state to prevent the spread.

*Encourage travelers coming into town can get local COVID information online at Petersburg’s COVID-19 information hub at psgcovidinfo.net.

*The seafood processors Icicle and Trident have very good plans in place and are committed to maintaining health in Petersburg. We need that to happen for Petersburg to have a successful summer.

*There are a few ordinances before Petersburg Assembly Monday night. One is for an extension of the emergency ordinance for COVID. Another is an extension for mandate 5 for cruise ship harbor access.

*Borough has received interest from a small cruise company to see if they could do a couple of sailings in June. Right now, they would be required to quarantine for 14-days when arriving in Alaska but that could change.

*Passengers on ferries coming in from out of state will need to quarantine if the state mandate 10 is still in place. But that could change.

*The work session with the State health officials is still scheduled for next Wednesday, May 20 at 1:30 p.m.

Petersburg School District:

*The parade route will be announced next week for the May 26 graduation ceremony. It will be 7 p.m. a little later than we first planned.

*Our book mobiles are done as of today.

*Will be offering summer meals throughout the summer. It will be pared down from what it’s been this spring but more than what we’ve done in past summers.

*Schools in the state are also using a green, yellow, red kind of status system like the hospitals. Education practices will depend on what the status of COVID is in the community.

Other Helpful Information:

*The State has relaxed requirements for who can be tested. Anybody can get tested that has ANY of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, a decreased appetite, diminished sense of taste or smell, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, rash, rigors, a runny nose, a sore throat, sputum production. Anyone with any symptoms is encouraged to call PMC’s 24-hour COVID-19 hotline (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls.

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office is short-staffed and has reduced counter hours M-F, 1-5:00 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Wednesday, May 13, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has collected 186 samples for COVID-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 175 negative, 3 recovered, and 8 test pending. 

*The work session scheduled for next Wednesday, May 20 at 1:30 p.m. is an opportunity for the community and assembly to hear from the State on the latest information on the coronavirus. The meeting will be open to the public online. It will provide information to plan for the future. What are the presentation styles of this virus? For businesses, what are the risks factors for opening?

*Considering how to safely see patients for routine visits and non-urgent treatments.  

*Increasing the Telehealth opportunities. It doesn’t replace in person appointments but it’s a way to provide access to providers locally and out of town.

Alaska Public Health Nursing:

*Encourage everybody to wear masks. You could potentially save a life if you have the virus and just don’t know it. It’s a simple measure that can help others.

*Continue social distancing. It’s tempting to go out the road or go camping with others but it’s still important to keep six feet of distance with others not in your household.

Petersburg Borough:

*The State released a new travel mandate on Monday, Mandate 18. It supercedes Mandate 12, which was the former mandate about travel in Alaska. Essentially, the state is allowing all purposes of travel between communities on the road system or the marine highway system. All purposes for travel are okay. All forms of transportation are okay to use whether it’s plane, boat, or vehicle. Travel for other communities off the road or ferry systems are still restricted to critical personal needs or for essential business. This mandate only concerns travel within the state. Out of state travel still requires a 14-day quarantine upon coming to Alaska.

*Quarantine means hunkering down and only leaving the quarantine site for medical reasons. Quarantine areas are usually homes, hotels, or boats. However, the state law does allow for critical infrastructure and essential workers to leave the quarantine site to perform work essential to their business. Beyond that specific work, people are supposed to remain in their quarantine site.

*Travel declaration forms are still supposed to be filled out by people traveling to Alaska and turned into the state online through the state’s website. If someone was found not to have filled out a travel form, penalties could be enforced later on if anything were to happen like an outbreak of the virus.

*Alaska Airlines is announcing that travel forms need to be filled out.

*The state’s mandate 17 is for commercial fishing captains, tenders, and processors. Captains of commercial fishing vessels are supposed to sign a form stating that they will follow state and local mandates. There isn’t a plan to actively enforce it. However, if there was an outbreak and someone wasn’t following the mandate they could be fined.

*Everybody needs to decide for themselves on masking. The Emergency Operations Center is still strongly recommending people wear facial coverings when social distancing can’t be met because it is a practice that will keep us all healthier. If you cannot meet social distance by six feet or greater you should wear a mask. It is a sign of respect to others. It would be a real shame to see our numbers escalate if we relax too soon.

*The work session with the State health officials is still scheduled for next Wednesday, May 20 at 1:30 p.m.

Petersburg School District:

*No finals week for the high school. The end date for high school students is May 22; using the last days for students to turn in school equipment.

*Next Tuesday, May 19, is the baccalaureate online.

*Next Thursday, May 21, is the local scholarship announcements online. It’s usually during the graduation ceremony.

*Tuesday, May 26, is graduation. That night there will be a parade. Still working on the virtual graduation ceremony

*Senior banners and yard signs have gone up around town

*Planning for a regular fall even though there could be some limitations

*Deadlines for health physicals have been extended

Other Helpful Information:

*The State has relaxed requirements for who can be tested. Anybody can get tested that has ANY of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, a decreased appetite, diminished sense of taste or smell, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, rash, rigors, a runny nose, a sore throat, sputum production. Anyone with any symptoms is encouraged to call PMC’s 24-hour COVID-19 hotline (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls.

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office is short-staffed and has reduced counter hours M-F, 1-5:00 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Monday, May 11, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has collected 178 samples for COVID-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 174 negative, 3 recovered, and only 1 test pending.  (The number of pending tests will get smaller because the state’s capacity for turning tests around has gotten better.)

*Working on the asymptomatic process of testing as something they hope to do in the future.

*Watching what happens as businesses reopen around the state.

*Looking at non-urgent care and how we can open safely.

*The second wave of the virus that people are talking and hearing about would be from people who are asymptomatic. The thought being that the virus would spread again when businesses reopen and asymptomatic people spread the virus to others.

Alaska Public Health Nursing:

*Health experts put out information about COVID and clothing. COVID can sometimes remain on clothing and surfaces for hours or days so be careful of how you handle clothing. However, they believe that it is transmitted more easily by droplets; being around someone coughing or sneezing or contaminated objects.

Petersburg Borough:

*As the mandates start rolling out from the state on reopening, there is some confusion about what businesses need to follow. There are a lot of details on what non-essential businesses need to do. The State has also given out information about what essential businesses need to do.

*The State’s Mandate 11 has been superceded but Attachment A of Mandate 11 is still active. Mandate 16 requirements are also active. This means that the statewide stay at home order has been lifted. However, essential businesses still have to follow the six feet of social distancing requirement. Facial coverings are not required in essential businesses but they are strongly recommended by the State for anyone who cannot social distance. The state’s law allows individual businesses to have their own stricter policies in place.

*The meeting that was scheduled for this Wednesday is postponed with State health officials. It has been rescheduled for next Wednesday. May 20 at 1:30 p.m.

*The borough’s emergency ordinance is up for assembly to consider for extension. It will be on the agenda at the assembly’s next meeting.

*Local canneries are hard at work trying to refine their plans for seasonal workers coming in. In a nutshell, they are going above and beyond what the State’s mandate requires. They plan to test workers in Seattle before they fly and again in Petersburg after they are here for five days. The goal in the season is to keep the workers separate from people in Petersburg. They don’t want to spread the virus to Petersburg and they also can’t afford any of their workers to catch the virus from a resident in town.

*Some commercial fishermen may not want to comply with State mandate 17 requiring them to sign a form that says they will comply with local and state mandates. It is unclear what the state’s enforcement will be. The borough will try to get more clarity on what the consequences would be including possible fines.

Petersburg Economic Development Council:

*The IRS has announced that May 13 at 8 a.m. is the last chance for people to provide direct deposit information to the IRS for economic impact payments otherwise you will get a check in the mail. Veterans or others who did not file a tax return, you need to go online to the IRS and tell them where to send your check.

*Businesses opening up, there are good resources on the Petersburg COVID website for keeping staff and customers safe.

*SBA’s Economic Injury Loans is still only accepting applications from agricultural related businesses, which does include commercial fishing and seafood processors.

*Still some money left in the PPP program. It’s now available to a broader range of businesses.

*The local business relief programs through PEDC is accepting applications for local businesses through a sales tax rebate from February and March and an incentive for the PPP program.

Other Helpful Information:

*The State has relaxed requirements for who can be tested. Anybody can get tested that has ANY of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, a decreased appetite, diminished sense of taste or smell, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, rash, rigors, a runny nose, a sore throat, sputum production. Anyone with any symptoms is encouraged to call PMC’s 24-hour COVID-19 hotline (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls.

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office is short staffed and has reduced counter hours M-F, 1-5:00 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Friday, May 8, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has collected 178 samples for COVID-19 in Petersburg (that’s about 5 percent of the town’s population) The results are: 157 negative, 3 recovered, and 18 tests pending.  The tests numbers are for individual people. It doesn’t add numbers for people who were tested more than once.

*People who are older and have underlying health conditions are more likely to die from the virus. They are more vulnerable to the virus than others. It’s important to remember that you look at the statistics for Alaska.

*The majority of people in Alaska who have tested positive for the virus are between the ages of 20-60. They are the ones that are out in the community. That’s where the risk is because they are interacting with others. They are a healthy part of the population who can transfer to the vulnerable part of the population.

Alaska Public Health Nursing:

*Please help protect mothers this weekend since it is Mother’s Day.

*Keep a 6 foot distance and wear facial coverings when out in public.

*Ways that you can help seniors now: contact local nursing homes to see if they need more PPE or support local food banks. They are a vulnerable population.

*Anyone is in a vulnerable population should continue safe measures even though businesses are opening back up. That doesn’t make them less vulnerable.

*There are stats in terms of people who die from COVID-19. Several websites that can break down the death rate, according to age and gender.

Petersburg Borough:

*Playing catch up on details on what State Mandates have changed. Phase 2 of reopening started today. Encourage residents to go to the state’s website to see the updated details.

*Revisions made to retail businesses, dine in services, personal care businesses, fishing charters, gym and fitness centers, and social and religious gatherings, swimming pools, bars, theaters, and more. The attachments have a lot of restrictions; it depends on what type of business or facility.

*Patrons, please be respectful of the businesses and their wishes to operate. Some require masking so please follow the requests.

*Petersburg’s Community Center and pool is not opening yet but the borough is considering how to open the facilities.  They are trying to develop plans to meet the state’s regulations. It depends on staffing and supplies. Answer the questions of how will we do it and how much will it cost?

*Instra-state travel has different requirements than out of state travelers coming in. People in Petersburg are not required to have a 14 day quarantine if they are traveling to larger communities. However, small communities can have their own laws. If fishermen need to travel through a small community to get to fishing grounds, they should check with the communities before traveling.

*Icicle Seafoods is testing incoming seasonal workers in Washington State, isolating the workers for a few days in Washington while testing happens. When the workers get to Petersburg they are quarantining locally. Icicle’s goal is to segregate their workforce from the community as much as possible. If workers got sick it would be disastrous to their company.  

*If seasonal workers do get sick, that information will be shared with the community.

*Work session next Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. between the borough and the State’s top medical experts. Residents can participate via Zoom. They will discuss the future of testing and other outlooks. KFSK will see if it can be broadcast live.

Petersburg Economic Development Council:

*NOAA has released the funding amount. $50 million is coming to Alaska. They are going to run it similarly to the fishery disaster. It’s fisheries related not just commercial fishing. The State will set up a spending plan. Some percentage will be direct payments. More information on how to apply will be announced later.

*The borough’s COVID-19 website has good information for businesses on how to reopen. It includes signs for businesses that they can post.

*No good numbers on the impact of unemployment until the end of May.

*Starting Saturday, the application period will be extended until May 22. It won’t just be for non-essential businesses. Details are on the borough’s website.

Petersburg School District

*Solidifying plans for graduation. It’s not ideal but the best they can do now. The students have had great ideas to help plan it. They want the community participating in a parade route, May 26 from 6-7 p.m. They will release a route and they would like people to yell and honk and

*Still trying to work out the details of reentering school in the fall. The district is working with the State on those details.

*There are a few weeks of school left.

Other Helpful Information:

*The State has relaxed requirements for who can be tested. Anybody can get tested that has ANY of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, a decreased appetite, diminished sense of taste or smell, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, rash, rigors, a runny nose, a sore throat, sputum production. Anyone with any symptoms is encouraged to call PMC’s 24-hour COVID-19 hotline (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls.

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office has counter hours to M-F, 1-5:00 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Wednesday, May 6, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has collected 167 samples for COVID-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 154 negative, 3 recovered, and 10 tests pending. 

*PMC is working on providing testing within 48 hours of medical procedures for people who need to see the dentist or doctor for up-close treatments.

*Working internally on testing strategy with more availability for asymptomatic testing.

*Clinic volumes have decreased by 50 percent and overall the hospital has decreased volumes of 35 percent so it is financially challenging at this point. How it will settle out is yet to be determined.

*Monitor yourself for symptoms; consider that they might be mild or vague. Stay away from other people if you are ill.

*This is nursing week and a shout out to the amazing nursing staff. 2020 is the Year of the Nurse. If you know a nurse, reach out and tell them that you appreciate them.

Alaska Public Health Nursing:

*State has released recommendations for seniors and ways to reduce your risk on the State’s COVID webpage. It makes suggestions on how seniors can have friends and family help you out because you are at higher risk of potentially dying from COVID.  It has tips for reducing your risk as much as possible.

Petersburg Borough:

*The local facial covering mandate expired May 5. The Petersburg Emergency Operations still encourages people to wear masks. Alaska Mandate 16 still requires facial coverings for many businesses for both employees and patrons.

*Petersburg is sheltering one person who doesn’t have a home and is being tested for COVID-19.

*Petersburg is looking into joining a study where they study the virus in waste water. Some other communities and countries are using it as a way to gauge the amount of virus in a community.  Emergency Operations Center Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman, said they are looking into it but nothing definitive yet.  “It could be potentially something for Petersburg to gauge where we’re at as far as knowing the extent of COVID-19 in our community.”

*Out of State workers who are quarantining in Petersburg for two weeks before they start to work (according to State Mandate 10) are allowed to go outside only if it’s a private space or a place where they will not run into others. It cannot be a public space like downtown where you might come into contact with others.

*Next Wednesday there will be a work session with the State’s main health experts about the virus. It’s a Q and A video conference where the borough and medical center leaders can ask the State experts questions, which will help the community make decisions according to the State’s best information. What should the community be aware of? What is the long term plan the community should be thinking about?

Petersburg Economic Development Council:

*New resources on the Covid-19 resource info hub on how business owners can meet the requirements for running now.

*SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans are only being accepted from agricultural business, which includes commercial fishing and processing.

*PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) still has money in the fund. Currently the only bank in town accepting applications is Alps. First Bank and Wells Fargo have a backlog and aren’t taking new applications.

*CARES Act for NOAA fisheries has not announced yet how they are going to distribute funding.

*The State doesn’t have numbers on how many people in Petersburg have lost jobs from COVID.

Petersburg School District

*Shout out this week to Teachers and Staff Appreciation Week

*Continue to work through the details of figuring out a meaningful graduation plan. There will likely be a community parade where people can drive by in their cars.

*Having conversations with the Commissioner of Health and Social Services, Adam Crum, and the State’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink about what might happen in the fall with the start of school. It’s likely that the schools won’t be on a normal schedule. They are looking at high risk, medium risk, and low risk scenarios. They are also talking about challenges with activities like basketball when social distancing is required.

Other Helpful Information:

*The State has relaxed requirements for who can be tested. Anybody can get tested that has ANY of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, a decreased appetite, diminished sense of taste or smell, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, rash, rigors, a runny nose, a sore throat, sputum production. Anyone with any symptoms is encouraged to call PMC’s 24-hour COVID-19 hotline (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls.

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office has regular counter hours to M-F, 9 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Coronavirus Show—Friday, May 1, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has collected 144 samples for COVID-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 119 negative, 3 recovered, and 22 tests pending. 

*Anyone who has a pending test must treat themselves as if they have COVID until you hear otherwise. You must stay isolated until you get the test results back.

*We have had two community cases in Petersburg. They aren’t related to each other. Social distancing is helping the virus from spreading to others. The facial coverings help the virus from spreading. PMC’s Infection Prevention Manager, Liz Bacom, said, “I hope that the assembly will at least make it a recommendation to the residents of Petersburg to use the best guidelines from the State and the federal government–the CDC–as far as how to prevent the spread.”

*The economy is opening up and PMC will be watching testing results closely.

*It is very important that money isn’t a barrier for people getting tested. If someone has insurance, it will be billed to them but it will be paid for. You do NOT have to meet your insurance deductible for the test to be paid for. There is no charge for COVID testing if someone can’t pay for it.

Alaska Public Health Nursing:

*It’s really important that people take this seriously. If you have been tested, you need to act like you are positive until medical providers tell you that you are not. That means self-isolating.

*The State put out plans for families with children. It looks at getting prepared in case a parent gets sick.

Petersburg Borough:

*On Monday, borough assembly will be considering a potential extension of the facial covering mandate. Petersburg’s Emergency Operations Center is NOT recommending an extension. The EOC strongly believes in face coverings but they won’t recommend extending the mandate. Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman, said, “At this time, we’ve had a lot of discussion at the EOC about the face covering mandate. We understand that it’s very controversial. So, at this time, I think that I will not be recommending that we extend it to the assembly. The State of Alaska does have a health alert concerning facial coverings and a strong recommendation for that to occur. . . The message from the EOC is still going to be that face covering is highly recommended as a way to prevent spread of the virus to others but the controversial nature of the mandate and the negative attention that it’s received has really pushed me to take a difference stance on that and essentially just try to encourage people to meet that health alert that has been put out by the State and make good decisions on their own.”

*Assembly is considering a mail-in only ballot for the October election like other communities however they don’t know what will be happening then. Having a method in place before the election that doesn’t require close contact could be good.

*Health Mandate 17 from the State of Alaska regarding commercial fishing vessels allows for local boat yards and harbors to take steps to further separate people coming into town from others. EOC hasn’t discussed Mandate 17 specifically. They are discussing with the harbor about how to handle transient vessels coming through Petersburg.

*Still asking people to social distance but you can do that while still getting outside and enjoy it this weekend. Please keep being safe, stay six feet apart, wear face coverings when appropriate, and wash your hands.

Petersburg School District

*Today is School Lunch Hero Day. Shout out to the staff doing lunch deliveries.

*It is also Principal’s Day today. Thank you to Rick Dormer and Heather Conn for their positive leadership during this crazy time.

*Next week is Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week.

*Trying to get out a rough outline for graduation. Trying to get virtual plans and a live parade of sorts worked out.

*Having a lot of meetings with state leadership and trying to get a look at what next year might look like. It’s not really helpful for groups of young children. We’re hopeful that we can do things safely with small groups and individual students in the fall.  Also, looking at creative ways of doing summer school.

*High School glacier survey—It will likely be the first time that the survey will not happen because there isn’t a way to do it with social distancing. At least it won’t be by helicopter. It could possibly be by boat but they haven’t come up with details on how to do that yet.

Other Helpful Information:

*The State has relaxed requirements for who can be tested. Anybody can get tested that has ANY of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, a decreased appetite, diminished sense of taste or smell, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, rash, rigors, a runny nose, a sore throat, sputum production. Anyone with any symptoms is encouraged to call PMC’s 24-hour COVID-19 hotline (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls.

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office has regular counter hours to M-F, 9 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Program—Wednesday, April 29, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has collected 134 samples for Covid-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 107 negative, 1 positive, 2 recovered, and 24 tests pending. 

*There are more tests being done in Petersburg because the State of Alaska has expanded the list of symptoms that qualify someone for testing. We are using the rapid testing machines. We have more options for testing in house but they are still sending tests out to outside labs for confirmation.

*There is no plan for random, asymptomatic testing. There is no capacity in PMC’s lab to do that.

*It’s really important that money is not a barrier for testing. Testing is free if you don’t have insurance that will pay for it or if you haven’t reached a deductible for insurance. Infection Prevention Manger Liz Bacom said, “This is a public health emergency. This is a widespread problem and we want to test as many people as we can so that we can minimize the spread in the community.”

*If you are identified as part of contact tracing there is no cost for testing. If you are identified as a person who was in contact with someone who is positive, it is considered part of the State’s investigation and there is no charge to the patient.

*Sitka had a positive case in its long term care facility but they don’t know how because they were on lockdown for six weeks. The takeaway from the Sitka story is that if you know your residents are not going outside, you can assume that it is your staff that is bringing it into the facility. Nurse Manager Jennifer Bryner said, “You have to be extremely careful that you are following all the social distancing and hygiene conditions that the State and local government is asking us to do because we know that we are the ones to bring it to the vulnerable.”

*Talking about a planning document for the community about future plans; kind of a playbook for different types of scenarios. Looking at what’s valid and not valid. That would include scenarios about future testing. Asking the State for helping with it.

*It’s important to understand how this virus presents itself. People have a different expression of the infection. That is why the list of symptoms list is growing because there is such a variety of symptoms. It casts out a broader net for screening the community so that it doesn’t work its way into our facilities.

*Social distancing is the best way to keep the spread down. Up to this point, the diligence of the people of Petersburg has had a positive impact on slowing the spread.

*Please stay home if you have any symptoms, even the mild symptoms. Employers please ask your staff to go home if they have any symptoms. Encourage them to call the hotline for medical guidance. The CDC website has a self-checker tool for people to use also.

Alaska Public Health Nursing:

*The State is allowing more people to be tested; they’ve relaxed the requirements for who can be tested. Anybody can get tested that has ANY of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, a decreased appetite, diminished sense of taste or smell, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, rash, rigors, a runny nose, a sore throat, sputum production.

*People are supposed to complete a travel mandate form and turn it into the State when they are traveling to and from Petersburg.

Petersburg Borough:

*Borough assembly passed a directive that allows sheltering options for people who need to isolate from others. It’s specific to homeless persons, healthcare workers, and first responders. It is not for a new person coming to town without a plan for housing. It is for people who test positive for COVID-19 and don’t have other options for safely isolating. It’s not a homeless shelter, it’s a response to a specific need to help protect the community.

*It’s very important for the community to continue to do the best that it can. We need to support each other. It’s not easy to continue this way but it’s important.

Petersburg Economic Development Council:

*Asking folks to apply by May 8 for both the sales tax rebate program and the paycheck protection program loan incentive grant. Anyone operating a business that is deemed non-essential should apply. There are links on the borough’s website. If you are a business that has already applied, the sales tax rebate is expanding to include February and March.

*SBA started accepting applications again for the PPP (paycheck protection loan) and the economic injury loan. For any questions, call the Alaska Small Business Development Center phone number: 907-463-3430. If you’ve applied and haven’t heard anything, try calling them. They issued some new guidance for seasonal businesses. They are now allowing you to look back at past months and use that information in the application.

*State unemployment for self-employed…they are still working on that program. But the State is already accepting applications for it. You will get a letter back saying you were denied but that’s just because they don’t have the program operating yet. They plan to have the program online on May 8 so it’s a good idea to apply before then.

*Direct payments from the IRS, that is an online tool only. There is no phone number to call at this time. If you don’t file taxes because you are receiving Veterans benefits or something else, then you must go online and inform the IRS that way.

Other Helpful Information:

*PMC’s 24-hour Covid-19 hotline is (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls. Anyone with symptoms of an illness is encouraged to call.

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office has regular counter hours to M-F, 9 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Monday, April 27, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*There is a new positive case of Covid-19 in Petersburg. A third person was identified Monday.

* We should assume that this new case was community spread because the virus can be spread by people without symptoms. Even though the State has not announced if this was travel related or community spread we should assume others have it or are carriers. We have to assume that the virus is in the community.

*PMC has collected 115 samples for Covid-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 98 negative, 1 positive, 2 recovered, and 14 tests pending. 

*Antibody testing is not being done at PMC. Right now, there are no plans to start. It requires a blood draw. It isn’t necessarily an accurate measure of someone’s health. Some initial studies don’t even start until 10-12 days after the symptom onset. It is still unclear if antibodies protect you from getting the virus again.  Just because you are positive with antibody doesn’t mean that you don’t have to follow other safety measures like social distancing and facial covering.

*People should not wear rubber gloves to protect themselves from the virus. Gloves prevent people from washing their hands regularly and from using hand sanitizer. The virus survives on surfaces and another surface is a rubber glove. Infection Prevention Manager, Liz Bacom, said a rubber gloves is a vessel for transferring the virus. She says people are more cautious if they don’t wear gloves. If they do wear gloves they have a false sense of security.

*People should wear facial coverings to protect others and themselves from the virus spreading through droplets in the air.

*PMC supports the borough’s proposed mandate to give options for people to quarantine. If someone presents certain hazard to the community, there is a waiver through U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, which allows HIPAA to be waived in certain, specific circumstances.

*A lot of questions still to be answered: What’s happening with the virus in the future. Will it go into a seasonal lull? Will it come in waves? Will it be a slow spread? What are the things that we want to do in Petersburg to prevent this from spreading? What are the criteria for the spread? What are some of the testing capabilities that we have?

*Any symptoms that aren’t normal for you, it’s worth calling PMC’s 24-hour Covid hotline (907) 772-5788

Petersburg Borough:

*The Petersburg Borough is proposing Health Mandate 7 following the State’s Mandate 14, which looks at sheltering homeless people and healthcare workers and first responders if there was an outbreak of Covid-19. The borough assembly is holding a special meeting to consider it. This mandate is temporary and specific to Covid-19. It addresses the 35 people who don’t have a home in Petersburg and if they are positive, they don’t have any place to isolate. This mandate creates a system for the hospital to request sheltering for someone who needs it and for the borough and EOC to provide that shelter. The borough would rent rooms at the Narrows Inn for them to quarantine and get reimbursed later by FEMA/federal government. The Narrows Inn was the only hospitality facility in town that considered renting to the homeless population. First Responders and healthcare workers are also included in the mandate because they are high risk. If they can’t quarantine away from others at home, they could have another option—Tides Inn.  There is already a law on the books for Tuberculosis to allow a healthcare provider to quarantine and isolate someone if it’s for the betterment of the public health. That law is still on the books whether or not it’s in this new mandate. Incident Commander for Petersburg Emergency Operations Center, Karl Hagerman said the goal of the mandate is to give people a choice. “We have no intention, zero intention of forcing people to do this unless it’s an absolutely egregious case; somebody highly symptomatic that’s shedding virus dramatically and is refusing to isolate. It’s a last resort.”

*It is confusing with the state reopening business with new positive cases showing up in Petersburg. Petersburg is not through the pandemic.  There is a lot of planning happening now with the hope that an outbreak doesn’t happen.

*People cannot get tests if they want for a certain business sectors like fishing. There are not enough tests in the state.

*If people are outside and can maintain social distance, there is not a strict requirement for wearing facial coverings. Face coverings are required if you can’t be six feet from other non-household members.

Petersburg School District:

*Continuing to research what could happen for a graduation ceremony. The State of Alaska has given the district some guidance. Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter will communicate with other Southeast schools about what they are doing.

*Talk about this summer. There might be some opportunity for some group instruction for students who might need some catching up.

*Talk around the state about what might happen this fall if we are still under this guidance without a vaccination. Maybe some ways of staggering schedules and having kids come in at different times.

*The plan is to get all the technology devices back from students at the end of the school year.

Other Helpful Information:

*State guidelines have changed about who can be tested. The State is now recommending that anyone with a cough be tested. Also, anyone with two of the following symptoms: fever, muscle or joint aches, nausea, diarrhea, runny nose, headache, chills, fatigue, loss of smell or taste, shaking, or a sore throat.

*PMC’s 24-hour Covid-19 hotline is (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls. Anyone with symptoms of an illness is encouraged to call.

*People can call PMC’s Infection Control Director, Liz Bacom, for general question about Covid-19 at 772-5545

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office has counter hours to M-F, 9 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Friday, April 24, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has collected 107 samples for Covid-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 88 negative, 2 recovered, and 17 tests pending. 

*There are about 155 cartridges for the rapid testing machines in Petersburg. There is no way to get more cartridges from the maker of the machines, Abbott. They can’t keep up with demand at this point.

*As the State broadens its requirements for testing, we’re going to test more. Covid hotline nurses take a history of symptoms and present it to physicians. Physicians decide if people with symptoms need to be tested for Covid. Still not testing people without symptoms. Not testing healthcare workers who do not have any symptoms.

*It is unclear if a seasonal worker tests positive for Covid in Petersburg would be counted as a local case. However, the positive test result would still be reported to the community.

*The federal government is recommending that chloroquine NOT be used routinely for Covid-19 treatment. It is only allowed for clinical trials and use in hospitals through an emergency authorization. The drug specifically reduces inflammation in the lungs but it doesn’t target the virus. Side effects have included death.  

*People should not inject or ingest disinfectant in the body to help fight Covid. Disinfectants like Lysol are for clean surfaces and not to put in your body.

*It has not been proven that the spread of Covid happens through dogs or cats but it is recommended that if you have Covid you should be isolated from pets so the virus isn’t transmitted on the surface of their fur.

*The best prevention for Covid-19 is wearing a facial covering and staying six feet away from others.

*Following the mandates and what it looks like for PMC. Internally, we are still on lock down status. Watching and waiting what’s happening in the community and state to see what Covid is going to do. A little nervous about incoming seasonal workers.

*Working on improving processes and will treat patients with Covid symptoms as if they have Covid. If we all continue to do that inside and outside of the hospital, that’s how we keep each other safe.

Public Health Nursing:

*Thanks to everyone in Petersburg who has tried to prevent the spread of this infection.

Petersburg Borough:

*Governor’s office has issued more details on State Mandate 16 for opening the economy.

*Intra-community travel now allowed for people on the road system so they can travel between towns for non-essential reasons. They have specific rules to follow and still must practice social distancing.

*Not aware of businesses that are opening. Local businesses are not required to give the borough plans.

*Karl Hagerman, Incident Commander with Petersburg Emergency Operations, suggests–for the time being–that the Petersburg Assembly not make any actions at this point about reopening and go by the State’s mandate details.

*Moving forward with the borough mandate that requires businesses that are bringing in workers from out of town to perform essential services. (Both state and borough mandates requiring businesses to submit plans to the borough and the state) Ryan Welde, the Incident Command Safety Officer, is doing the primary review of those business plans.

Petersburg School District:

*Working through hiring for some positions.

*Getting some guidance from the State for graduation. Plan to talk to the Commissioner of Education on Monday to get more questions answered.

*Weekend meals went out today along with the Friday meals.

*Book mobile is delivering books on Fridays. Forms can be found online and in the weekly bulletins in emails.

*Parents should sign up for meals for their children for next week

Other Helpful Information:

*State guidelines have changed about who can be tested. The State is now recommending that anyone with a cough be tested. Also, anyone with two of the following symptoms: fever, muscle or joint aches, nausea, diarrhea, runny nose, headache, chills, fatigue, loss of smell or taste, shaking, or a sore throat.

*PMC’s 24-hour Covid-19 hotline is (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls. Anyone with symptoms of an illness is encouraged to call.

*People can call PMC’s Infection Control Director, Liz Bacom, for general question about Covid-19 at 772-5545

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office has counter hours to M-F, 9 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Thursday, April 23, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has collected 102 samples for Covid-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 84 negative, 1 positive, 1 recovered, and 16 tests pending. 

*There has been a recent uptick in calls to the 24-hour hotline this past week from people with symptoms.

*With the reopening of some businesses, it’s more important than ever to wear facial coverings. The local mandate is still in effect. Also, details in the state’s mandate to reopen the economy do require facial coverings for employees or customers or both. Businesses should read the mandate for those details.

*CEO Phil Hofstetter has some concerns about the reopening of businesses in town because the virus passes to and from asymptomatic people.

*There are a significate number of residents in Petersburg who are vulnerable and at risk. There are over 100 people in Petersburg who are over the age of 80 and around 200 people with diabetes. Also, Long Term Care and other residential areas for vulnerable people will remain isolated because they are high risk.

*Available to work with businesses on how to screen employees, which could include taking temperatures. Recommends that businesses consider screening for symptoms and temperatures.

*Go back to the basics:  Stay home if you’re sick, wash your hands, wear a facial covering when required and handle it with care.

Petersburg Borough:

*Trying to digest Health Mandate 16 from the State that details the first phase of reopening Alaska. It includes details of how non-essential businesses can run, including retail businesses, restaurants for dine-in services, and personal care services like hair salons. There are details in the mandate about social distancing and rules businesses must follow. Encourages businesses to read the State Mandate 16 themselves. If businesses have questions, they can email eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*Petersburg’s facial covering mandate is still in effect even with the State’s reopening of some businesses. Any person who is entering a store must wear a facial covering. However, the facial coverings do not replace social distancing. People still need to social distance in the stores by six feet as well. Try to understand that the stores are under stress to meet the current demands.

*The whole state is operating on the honor system for the mandates. The enforcement of the mandates has always been an issue. The borough will try to work with people as much as possible to educate the public and business owners before writing tickets.

*The reason that we’re in this in the first place is a medical reason, there is a threat that we could overwhelm the local healthcare system.

Petersburg School District:

*We are entering the “maintenance phase” of things, seeing the reality of online life and lack of social connection for students and staff. It’s a bit wearing and we are doing more outreach to families. There is a sense of loss about some things that can’t happen but also creative thinking about different ways of doing things.

*Over 600 meals a day are being delivered every day to children. Meals will continue into the summer in some form but it might look a little different from what’s happening now.

*There are no definitive answers yet about the next school year starting in August. Still working out how the summer will look like and are hoping to get guidance from the State. Especially it’s challenging for the youngest students because it is difficult to do distance delivery with six-year-olds.  

Other Helpful Information:

*State guidelines have changed about who can be tested. The State is now recommending that anyone with a cough be tested. Also, anyone with two of the following symptoms: fever, muscle or joint aches, nausea, diarrhea, runny nose, headache, chills, fatigue, loss of smell or taste, shaking, or a sore throat.

*PMC’s 24-hour Covid-19 hotline is (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls. Anyone with symptoms of an illness is encouraged to call.

*People can call PMC’s Infection Control Director, Liz Bacom, for general question about Covid-19 at 772-5545

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office has counter hours to M-F, 9 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Wednesday, April 22, 2020:

Karl Hagerman, Petersburg EOC Incident Commander:

* The Governor’s Office is taking some action to start reopening businesses on Friday. We’ve been waiting to see that in writing, in an official mandate or health order, but that has not to my knowledge been released yet, so we don’t know the exact details. But from the press conference yesterday, it looks like it would be Phase-one of reopening that would include businesses like hair salons and barber shops, with some tight restrictions in place, such as one client at a time, no waiting areas, and face coverings required to be worn by provider. Restaurants would be able to open at 25% capacity with only members of the same household grouping at a table. Gyms with outdoor activities could commence with people at least ten feet apart and limits on group sizes. Fishing charters would be able to take out single households only and at 25% capacity of the boat. Bars and theaters would remain closed. With an undefined Phase-two scheduled for May 8th.   We’ve been monitoring the state’s website for more information, but nothing specific available as of yet.

* The State’s survey about these reopening proposals that was sent to the borough Assembly indicated that it would not real soon. Surely the State knows that with public meeting notification requirements local governments can’t respond suddenly. Obviously Petersburg hasn’t been able to respond to the survey and presumably other communities haven’t been able to offer their local advice either… but the Borough is meeting today, and hopefully we will have something to answer back to the State later today.

* The Assembly is being asked to comment on the State’s attempt to streamline a travel plan or business plan for the commercial fishing industry. They proposed some language for that process, and the Assembly will be discussing that draft this afternoon.

* A caller asked about what legal differences might have been between Petersburg Borough’s masking mandate and Seward’s.  Karl confirmed that our local mandate was thoroughly legally vetted, but Karl will look into what difference may exist between those mandates.

Phil Hofstetter, Petersburg Medical Center CEO:

* We are ramping up our testing and testing capabilities in the respiratory clinic. I do have some concerns regarding the reopening of the economy. We haven’t seen modeling or data about COVID’s spread that they are basing those decisions on. There is some concern that those decisions are being made without medical insight.

* Between seasonal workers coming up… and some of the dissension from masking practices… from the PMC side, we should be starting to prepare for folks presenting to the facility COVID positive. Based on the way this virus progresses, in my mind, we now need to go from prevention, to managing patients with COVID, which was really what we wanted to avoid.

Laurie Miller, Petersburg Medical Center Lab Manager:

* There have been 93 samples collected. Results include: 79 negative, one recovered, one positive, 12 still pending.

* We have started the validation of the rapid testing machine. All of our results are going to be also sent to the state for verification to ensure that the results are valid.

* The only major drawback so far, beside the reputation for false negatives, is the lack of reagent. Right now Abbott has no projections about when more reagent will be available to the State of Alaska. So we want to make sure the reagent we have in Petersburg can be used in a meaningful manner.

Liz Bacom, PMC Infection Control:

* There is a post on the Petersburg Medical Center Facebook page about DHSS recommendations for making a mask with or without a sewing machine. There are easy ways to make face coverings. They do help and we appreciate everybody out there wearing them.

Jennifer Bryner, RN, Director of Nursing:

 *How to handle your mask:  

-First of all, you should have clean hands before you touch your mask and after you’ve touched it. After you touch your mask you should watch your hands or sanitize.

-The mask should cover your mouth, nose and chin.

-When you need to take a sip of water or whatever, touch the mask from the sides or loops, not the area you’ve been breathing on.

-You should never push the mask below the chin or let it hang.

-If it becomes damp or soiled it should be discarded or washed if reusable. We recommend washing with a hot water cycle every day.

-Stored in a paper bag (or something similar) when not wearing it, rather than in a pocket.

-Remove the mask, and store it before you eat or drink, being careful not to touch it.

-And again, wash your hands or sanitize after touching your mask.

Erin Michael, Petersburg Public Health Nurse

* Regarding the second confirmed positive in Petersburg:  based off the investigation, there wasn’t any sign of recent travel or close contact, so that would suggest community transmission.  Community is classified as an unknown contact, not identifiably related to travel, and not related to another known case. So, despite extensive interviews, we are unable to determine specifically where the transmission of the virus took place.

* Regarding reopening business:  it appears clear that we haven’t hit our peak yet.  Testing is increasing across the state, so I expect we will see increasing numbers. But that all has to do with what testing capabilities there are across the state.

* There are businesses that are currently open, essential businesses that are taking precautions. A lot of businesses probably could do that if they are following the protocols, but I’m not a business person, I’m more on the medical side. They would need a good plan in place to make sure that their customers and their staff remain safe. That would have to happen on every business’ individual level.

* Something to keep in mind, a close contact would be described as being within six feet for at least ten minutes.  

* It is very important that we stay vigilant. In pandemics there is something called a second wave that can happen after restrictions have be lifted. Sometimes that second wave of infections is much higher than the first wave.  Please be vigilant and follow the recommendations. If we keep seeing restrictions lifted, that doesn’t mean we must end precautions. These precautions help decrease the magnitude of the second wave.

Heather Conn, Stedman Elementary School Principal

*A survey was recently sent out via email. We are encouraging feedback about the workload at home. What’s working well or not, etc., trying to get feedback from families.

*Some families are feeling that it’s too much at home, and others feel that it’s not enough. We’re trying to meet in the middle, with consideration for those who are at home as well as those who are working full time and struggling to find any time.

*State testing and assessments have been canceled.

* a message from the high school, Mr. Dormer: They are continuing to plan for the senior events including graduation.

*I encourage anyone in the community who has ideas about graduation or baccalaureate to reach out to students with what you’re thinking. Share your ideas.

* We are working with connection groups from the middle school and high school, working with counselors, and all students should continue to check their emails.

* Today is Administrative assistant day. We have to give a shout-out to all our admins. Thank you all for being there for us.

* April 30th is Kindergarten Registration. There will be a drop off for the registration packet. You just drive up; we will be there to inspect the packet, and make sure everything is signed. 

* Online cyber-safety events are coming up soon. In these times we need to know more about cyber safety, all the dos and don’ts.

Liz Cabrera, Director of Petersburg Economic Development Council

* We are close to more funding for the PPP, the Senate just passed a large funding measure which included $310billion for PPP, and the House is scheduled to take up the vote this week.

* The PPP is for employers and self-employed businesses, and nonprofits too. The idea is you can take an amount equal to 2.5 times an average monthly payroll. If you spend that on payroll, then you can apply to have that loan forgiven.

* There are a lot of people with applications turned in when the funds ran dry.  So as soon as funding becomes available, those applications will be submitted and the money will start drawing down right away. Anyone who has an interest in this needs to get their documents together right away and be ready to apply the moment banks are accepting new applications.

* As far as receiving the recent individual stimulus, the IRS has a website, to put in your direct deposit info, and hopefully speed up receiving that if one hasn’t received it yet. If you are receiving VA benefits or spousal benefits, the IRS needs you to submit information about where to send that stimulus money to you. The IRS does not currently have a phone service available for those who need to apply and get information.

* For local businesses that had to shut down due to do the mandates, PEDC does have a sales tax rebate program available. Hover over the resources for businesses page on the borough’s site to apply for that rebate.  

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Tuesday, April 21 2020:

Karl Hagerman, Petersburg EOC Incident Commander:

The facial coverings mandate passed last night with a vote of 4 to 3. It is in effect as of this morning. The mandate basically requires anyone going into a building open to the public, working in a building with coworkers, or outside of a building in close proximity with others, when social distancing isn’t possible, needs to wear a facial covering.

There is a lot of masking guidance on the internet and links on the Borough’s website for various different options.

Exceptions to the mandate exist for those who can’t wear masks for medical reasons, including   young children under two, and those with chronic breathing and pulmonary issues, though they should still do the practices to keep the spread down.

If you’re inside a building and working alone, you wouldn’t have to wear a mask in that situation.

Out of doors alone or with your families, where you won’t be encountering other people, a mask is not needed.

When you come into contact with others outside your household, that’s when you want to put a facial covering on to protect them from what you might be unknowingly carrying.

The facial coverings mandate runs until May 5th, two weeks from now it will be reconsidered.

We’ve been hearing a lot of concern about people coming to Petersburg. The two other mandates are about limiting access from smaller cruise ships to Petersburg. And the other is requiring businesses to submit their plans for receiving outside workers to the Borough, as well as to the State as was already required.

Phil Hofstetter, Petersburg Medical Center CEO:

We have obtained some testing equipment from the state. We finally did receive those yesterday.

A lot of our strategies are things that have been implemented in pandemics in the past. The one thing that is changing from the past is the availability of lab testing.  The local lab team deserves to be recognized for the expertise and abilities they provide in the medical center.   

Liz Bacom, PMC Infection Control:

The testing count as of this morning:  87 people screen, 79 negative,  6 pending , 1 positive, 1 recovered.

The rapid testing units from the state have arrived

This machine is not as sensitive as the gold standard method available at the State’s lab. The new local test is very accurate for testing Positives, but the machine is not as sensitive in generating negative tests, so negative results will be sent along to the state for verification, to provide a high level on confidence. That is to avoid reporting a negative when it was actually a lower level positive.

The turnaround time for the local test is same day, potentially less than an hour.  

Pets and COVID19:  there’s not a lot of evidence of whether pets can carry and transmit COVID19.    There is secondary transmission possible, for example, by way of the droplet transmission on the outside of the dog’s coat.

Jennifer Bryner, RN, Director of Nursing:

The new positive result doesn’t change practices at PMC, we have been operating under the practical assumption that there has been COVID in the community for the past month or so, by masking, handwashing, screening, limiting access to patients with vulnerabilities such as Long term Care.  

Remember when we wearing a mask we are protecting others.  If I am working in an area and, for example, I talk, and the droplets get into the immediate area. When someone else walks in and uses that same item, they potentially pick up those droplets.

Remember to wear a mask if you experience any symptoms, and frequent surface cleaning is really necessary, and above all, if you are sick, please stay home.  And if you are in a household with anyone ill with COVID symptoms, household members should also try to stay home. 

If you have been tested and are awaiting results you should be isolating within your home.

Droplets are the very fine pieces of moisture produced by speaking, yelling, singing, forceful breathing, coughing, and sneezing.

Thank you to the lab staff.  Lab is something folks can take for granted, but we have an incredibly talented, professional lab staff and we are just very lucky to have everyone from the lab here.

Erika Kludt-Painter, Superintendent of Petersburg School District:

Caps and Gowns are being handed out today, between 1 and 3pm, and we are asking high school kids to drive by and drop off uniforms.

Tonight at 5:30 there are office hours, for any parents interested in talking with Mr. Dormer or Mr. Cabral. If you want to join the office hours Zoom, email Dormer or Cabral for the password. Same thing tomorrow for Middle School.

Considering various creative ideas for graduation.

Working through technologies issues in the elementary school.  Huge shoutout to the elementary teachers, students and families for making it all happen.

Also looking at hiring to fill positions that are opening up due to retirements.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show Monday, April 20, 2020

Karl Hagerman:

On the second local positive case: pushed out word about the second case as quickly as possible, but didn’t use a code-red announcement, just to avoid over-using it. But not much other information is available about the case.

Investigation is currently underway regarding community spread or not.  Erin has been in close contact with the state and new information could be coming in any time.

Three proposed mandates are under consideration tonight at this evening’s Borough meetings. Over thirty letters have been submitted to the Assembly many of them are complaints about the facial covering mandates:

Hagerman reiterates that the mandate does not state you’ll have to wear a mask or facial covering all day long. When meeting social distancing practices, or when by yourself or with household members, facial covering is not mandated.

The likelihood of being unable to meet social distancing requirements inside certain businesses or settings, is why facial coverings are recommended.

Covering your face is to protect people around you more than to protect one’s own self.

If walking around downtown – though town is not very busy right now – if you are on a sidewalk and passing others within six feet, it is best to have a covering on.

Another proposed mandate requires all businesses with workers coming in from outside the community to submit their plan for receiving workers in a safe way.

Anyone who wants to testify a verbal statement to the Assembly tonight can call 1-800-954-0633

The face mask mandate, once passed, would be in effect until May 5, a two-week period where we are asking people to knuckle down and help everyone out.  The focus is flattening the curve.

Erin Michael:

Is going through the interview information from the positive case, and the state epidemiologist team is sorting through that information now.  

Based off of information right now, from the state, there is not currently information that ties this case to travel or to a close contact to a secondary case.

Community spread is what it is called when they interview a source and they can’t determine the origin of the exposure. It could be an asymptomatic contact. The term doesn’t mean the infection is spreading across the whole community, but it effectively means the cause of exposure is as of yet unknown.

More information will be forth coming from the state in this case, but it is still early on.

Contacts are people who are established to have been within six feet of a positive case for at least ten minutes, or if one has been coughed or sneezed on by a COVID positive individual.  

Everybody needs to be taking the precautions that have been urged all along. Social distancing, covering nose and mouth, staying as healthy as possible, so we can all make it through as pain free as possible.

Phil Hofstetter:

The way we manage and think of the virus should be more community based rather than focusing in on a person. The reality of the virus is that many people are asymptomatic. The risk is that some people are just fine and others may be not fine, and it is not super clear who is going to have an especially adverse reaction. There have been cases that don’t fall into the paradigm of just the elderly or sick are at risk.

We are in a pandemic. We don’t know a lot about the virus. We have to look at squashing the virus first. And it is dangerous to talk about just targeting people who are known to actively have the virus. It is more important to practice the established practices, and to think with kindness. Because anyone can have the virus.

Because we have this unique location, an island, it’s an opportunity to potentially control the flow of the virus in ways that other places can’t. 

There is a danger of ostracizing someone for COVID. But it can infect anyone. We have to keep it in mind.

We still don’t know how long the disease is active in a system.  This is why we rely on expert epidemiologists. 

We have the unique opportunity to tackle this thing. There should be no reason why we can’t do things better than a big city.

Jennifer Bryner:

Wear masks to protect others. We know this is a droplet transmitted virus, so when we talk, sneeze, cough, sing, laugh, droplets can land on surfaces or on people.  Your droplets land on a surface, someone else touches that surface, and it can be transmitted to them.

That is the concept behind wearing a mask.   We assume we are carrying it, so we wear a mask to prevent our own spreading it.  We wear a mask to protect others.

So then, also, how to we protect ourselves? That is where the hand-washing, the washing high-touch areas, the staying home, and limiting our own exposure to surfaces and others is how we protect ourselves.

If we assume that you have it and that others have it. That is how we drive down the risk.

A mask in inconvenient, but it is very easy to do and can be used anywhere.  It does not limit your ability to do what you need to do. It is a pretty easy thing to do for the greater good.

The people at the grocery stores and other essential places have a right to be free from exposure from those refusing to wear mandate

Liz Bacom

The mask is a signal that you care about others.

If you don’t protect yourself in all the other ways, the mask is not going to prevent you from getting it.  

A glove is worn in the medical space to protect the worker and the patients. They are changed frequently, and hands are washed before and after every use.  If, in the community, people are not doing the same with gloves, then that is the same as not washing your hands at all.

The virus does not go through skin, it is not blood borne. It is respiratory. It is inhaled by touching a mucus membrane or walking through a cloud of droplets.  Use hand hygiene. Do not touch your face. It is really important.

In Sweden they are overwhelmed because they opted not to mandate practices.

Laurie Miller

81 total tests, 74 negatives, 1 recovered, 1 positive, and 5 results awaited.

The state has sent two rapid tests, but neither has arrived yet. Because they were sent out via fedex. There is no update when those will actually arrive.

As soon as we get them the entire public will know.

We are receiving 8 boxes of cartridges, that should include 192 possible tests, but some will be used in setup and checking the machine’s own accuracy.

We have to go through the state to get cartridges. The state has not indicated if there is a surplus of cartridges or not.

Erika Kludt-Painter

 The only real update from last week is that Mr. Dormer and Mr. Cabral are planning to do office hours for family and parents who need to ask questions or meet with them. The dates and times are posted on facebook.  If you want to meet on Zoom during office hours, you need to email for contact info

Meals are still going well. It’s a good routine for kids. A task to break up the day and go outside.

Book distribution also went well.

We’re in week 4. And are still talking through plans for graduation.

Liz Cabrera:

There are supposed to be these checks going out.  Direct payments have gone out to those who had that set up. If you are waiting for yours, the IRS has a way to check where your payment is.

If you receive Veterans benefits, or haven’t filed taxes due to your income, you need to go online and complete a form so the IRS knows where to send that payment. 

As far as paycheck protection loan program, and economic injury loans from the SBA, they ran out of funding this last week.  A deal is very close in congress to put more money into those programs, and hopefully there will be additional funds available. There are thousands of applications currently waiting in line already.  If you are interested in those programs and haven’t filed yet. Get your applications ready right now, so that you can get in line right away when the funds are available again.

Reach out to your local lenders and bank of choice to get all that set up now.

If you’re self-employed you have to apply and then likely get turned down, and then once its all up and running you are supposed to receive help get those funds.

NOAA received about $300 million to fund, but that program has not come online yet as well.

To get info about navigating these programs, for the SBA loans, contact the Alaska Small Business Development Center. That phone number is 907-463-3430. That’s in Juneau. They have a person tasked with rural businesses finding their way through the process. That’s free business counseling.

PEDC has a sales tax rebate program available now, with an online application on the resources page of the Borough’s website; that rebate program is open and available right now.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Friday, April 17, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*So far, PMC has collected 76 samples for Covid-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 67 negative, 1 positive (recovered), and 8 tests pending. 

*The low number of positive test results show that what Petersburg is doing is working. PMC Nurse Manager, Jennifer Bryner, said, “Really the best prevention is to have no exposure and I’m really proud of our community for working so hard on limiting that and I think that we could have really good outcomes and keep people well if we are willing to work together.”

*The borough’s proposed masking mandate might seem draconian–masks feel funny to wear and take getting used to it but, “until we know more about the virus it’s not a lot to ask to wear,” said PMC CEO, Phil Hofstetter.

*The virus is spreading through people that are asymptomatic. People have it and don’t know it because they don’t have symptoms and they’re spreading it to others. PMC’s Infection Control Director, Liz Bacom, said “What they’re finding is that the highest viral load, the highest number of viral particles that are present in a person who’s infective, is just before they start showing symptoms or the very early stages when their symptoms are very minor like a runny nose or sore throat.”

*If someone coughs in a closed area, the virus can still infect someone else there an hour later.

*People are continuing to travel into Petersburg from other places that have active cases. Masking is a way to help protect the community if you can’t maintain a distance. The whole idea of wearing a mask is caring about others.

*Elderly residents at home and those residents in long term care depend on others to go out for them. The care givers or family members or friends could become infected and bring it back to the vulnerable people even if they’re trying their best. Nurse Manager, Jennifer Bryner, said, “It’s really our goal to have a really low level of community impact and spread of coronavirus.”

*The problem with isolating the elderly and those with health complications and letting others go back to work is because there are too many opportunities for the healthy population to spread the virus when they’re asymptomatic. Infection Control Director, Liz Bacom said, “There are too many cases of healthy people that succumb to this.”

*Still waiting for the rapid test machines from the federal government. There was a hiccup in shipping and it’s taking longer than first thought. The rapid test machines are not as sensitive as the usual swabbing so negative test results will still have to be swabbed and sent away.

*Telehealth is going well; physicians are seeing some patients through video conferencing.

Public Health Nursing:

*Transmission comes from droplets in the air.

*Masking is recommended from the federal level. Masking is normal across the country. Public Health Nurse, Erin Michael, said, “It’s an important measure that people can take to help each other out.”

Petersburg Borough:

*The borough assembly is meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. and will be considering three new local mandates regarding Covid-19. One of the mandates is about mandatory face coverings when people are out and about and could potentially run into other people as well as employees in open businesses.

*The face covering mandate would be in place until May 5. It would be operated on an honor system; there will be no fines or arrests. The reason for the mandate is to protect others so that droplets don’t travel in the air to them.

The face covering mandate does not say that people need to wear a mask all the time. Here are some details:

Wear a facial covering:

-when someone is inside open public buildings

-when someone is inside closed buildings and around non-household members

-when someone is outside of buildings when social distancing cannot be met with non-household members

Do NOT need a covering:

-if you work alone and don’t interact with non-household members

-if you’re outside alone and you won’t cross paths with others non-household members

*Mandate on businesses giving the borough protective plans for traveling into town to provide services.

*Mandate on harbor facilities and cruise ships with 25 passengers or more. They would first need to make contact with Petersburg’s Health Officer, Dr. Mark Tuccillo, who would decide if they can enter the community or not.

*Members of the public can provide testimony on the proposed mandates or other agenda items through the borough clerk, Debra Thompson: dthompson@petersburgak.gov or 907.772.5405

Petersburg Economic Development Council:

*Gearing up to send out checks from the economic fund to local businesses as early as today. They are prioritizing businesses that had to close under the state mandates or those that are declared non-essential.  $300 limit for the first round.  

*Next week they will roll out Paycheck Protection Loan Program, which will be limited to $1,000.

*Borough has suspended utility disconnects

*US Chamber of Commerce grant program should be opening Monday–$5,000 grants to small businesses. The website is: savesmallbusinesses.com. First come, first serve.

*$600 million in small business loans were processed in the State of Alaska. Small Business Administration ran out of funds. They are not accepting new applications, pending Congress appropriating more funds.

*Self-employed people can sign up for unemployment benefits but you first have to apply for regular unemployment benefits and get denied. Then you can apply for Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

*Direct payments from the IRS…If you signed up for direct deposit, you should be getting the money in the account this week or next.  Link on the borough website to provide direct deposit information. Non-filers need to fill out information on where to send the money.

*The borough’s website has links for all of the state and federal relief programs.

*NOAA grant program for commercial, charter, and subsistence fisheries will be opening soon.

Petersburg School District:

*Planning more outreach with phone calls to parents on feedback to distance learning

*Some students are feeling housebound. Get outside with families this weekend.

*Book mobile has completed two weeks.

Other Helpful Information:

*State guidelines have changed about who can be tested. The State is now recommending that anyone with a cough be tested. Also, anyone with two of the following symptoms: fever, muscle or joint aches, nausea, diarrhea, runny nose, headache, chills, fatigue, loss of smell or taste, shaking, or a sore throat.

*PMC’s 24-hour Covid-19 hotline is (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls. Anyone with symptoms of an illness is encouraged to call.

*People can call PMC’s Infection Control Director, Liz Bacom, for general question about Covid-19 at 772-5545

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office has counter hours to M-F, 9 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Other Helpful Information:

*State guidelines have changed about who can be tested. The State is now recommending that anyone with a cough be tested. Also, anyone with two of the following symptoms: fever, muscle or joint aches, nausea, diarrhea, runny nose, headache, chills, fatigue, loss of smell or taste, shaking, or a sore throat.

*PMC’s 24-hour Covid-19 hotline is (907) 772-5788. Experienced nurses are answering the calls. Anyone with symptoms of an illness is encouraged to call.

*People can call PMC’s Infection Control Director, Liz Bacom, for general question about Covid-19 at 772-5545

*Any questions about coronavirus health mandates in Petersburg can be emailed to: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

*The Petersburg Post Office has counter hours to M-F, 9 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Borough guidelines for the post office:

–Be patient, observe 6 ft. social distancing, wait for people to leave an area before you enter it.

–Residents with odd number boxes pick up mail Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

–Residents with even number boxes pick up mail Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

–People over 65 and other high risk individuals should avoid the post office altogether. Please get someone else to check your mail. To get help finding someone to check your mail you can email: eoc@petersburgak.gov.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Thursday, April 16, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*So far, PMC has collected 74 samples for Covid-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 67 negative, 1 positive (recovered), and 6 tests pending.  

*Once someone has had the virus and no longer tests positive they should continue to practice social distancing and masking like everyone else because they could potentially be reinfected.

*PMC is considering the state mandate 14, which is about allowing low-risk or non-essential medical procedures to resume at the end of April and beginning of May.  PMC CEO Phil Hofstetter said they will be ramping up Telehealth, telephone, case management processes and trying to look at what they can do safely. “The most at-risk for coronavirus are healthcare workers and so I have quite a bit of concern on this mandate specifically and how we’re going to meet the need of that.”

*There are still a lot of unknowns about the virus, it’s only been around for months, there are still no good treatment plans. PMC CEO, Phil Hofstetter said he is in favor of regulations and mandates until we know more about how the virus works and he does not support relaxing measures. “Once the genie is out of the bottle so to speak, you can’t put that back in.”

*PMC does not support the idea of “herd immunity” which would be letting the virus run through the younger population while isolating the older and vulnerable population to protect them. (The idea being that the virus would circulate and end) PMC CEO Phil Hofstetter said there’s not enough understanding about what the virus does inside the body yet to make any determination like that. Young people are dying too. There are a lot of specialists in the world recommending a delay strategy to allow time to understand the virus, do more testing, and come up with effective treatments.

*New York City draws a picture of what could happen to Petersburg because, even though Petersburg isn’t as populated, it doesn’t have the resources that the city does either.

Petersburg Borough:

*The borough assembly is meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. and will be considering three local mandates regarding Covid-19:

-Mandate on mandatory face covering when people are out and about and could potentially run into other people as well as employees in open businesses.

-Mandate on businesses giving the borough protective plans for traveling into town to provide services.

-Mandate on harbor facilities and cruise ships with 25 passengers or more. They would first need to make contact with Petersburg’s Health Officer, Dr. Mark Tuccillo, who would decide if they can enter the community or not.

*Members of the public can provide testimony on the proposed mandates or other agenda items through the borough clerk, Debra Thompson: dthompson@petersburgak.gov or 907.772.5405

*The state is working on a mandate that specifically addressing fishing vessels throughout the state, trying to streamline the process for fishing vessels.

*Banners are going up around town as reminders for the public to social distance and wear masks.

Petersburg School District:

*Continue to work through hiring processes virtually because that process had been stalled for awhile.

*Continuing to work on graduation ceremony details. The State will be giving the district guidance. Getting creative ideas from the students

*Doing outreach with families at the grade school. Want to hear more feedback from families.

*Families should sign up for next week’s free meals.

*Serving about 650 meals day between breakfasts and lunch.  

*Scheduling some administrative office hours next so that parents can reach administrators.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Wednesday, April 15, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*So far, PMC has collected 71 samples for Covid-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 63 negative, 1 positive (recovered), and 7 tests pending.  

*Still waiting on the rapid testing machine to arrive in the mail.

*Coronavirus hotline receiving calls every day. Some callers are referred for screenings and others are not.

*The community could still have Covid present even though PMC hasn’t had a positive test recently. Nurse Manager, Jennifer Bryner said, “There are still people entering the community and it could be traveling, we just haven’t been able to find it yet.” PMC is not doing wide- spread, non-symptomatic testing.

*Encourage people to call PMC’s hotline (907) 772-5788 and get tested if they have symptoms.  Don’t be afraid of reporting symptoms; don’t be scared of the criticism.

*If you have any symptoms or are waiting for test results, please stay home. Isolate in your home and stay away from other members of your household.

*Everyone entering PMC facility must wear a mask.

*Tips for Masking:

–Masks in the health care environment should be treated as infectious (PMC staff treat them very carefully)

–everyone should carefully take masks off by touching the straps only and not touching the front of the mask, place on a clean paper towel

–wash them at least every day, don’t wear them for more than one day

–something is better than nothing when it comes to masking, the tighter the weave the better for preventing droplets going out, double layer masks are advised if you can get a homemade mask made

–still need to keep six feet of separation even when wearing a mask

–don’t touch your mask or face when wearing a mask

–to prevent fogging up on glasses, you can clean glasses with a tiny amount of shaving cream or liquid soap and then rinse with water, which can prevent fogging.

*After washing hands, do not turn the faucet off with hands, which you just cleaned. Can use paper towels to turn off faucet

Public Health Nursing:  

*It’s an honor system for out of state travelers quarantining and getting traveler declaration forms filled out and sent to the state

*CDC has come out with recommendations for pregnant women. They don’t know if pregnant women are at higher risk but they are treating them like they are. They think that mother to child transfer of the virus is unlikely but after the child is born it can be transferred more easily.Expecting families should stay away from anyone with symptoms.

*The Public Nursing office is serving people over the phone when it can. Some things they can’t do via distance like immunizations or STD testing. People can submit WIC documents in the mail.

*Please be aware to not touch your face when coming and going from stores and the grocery store. There are shared objects like the credit card machines and door handles. Public Health Nurse, Erin Michael, said, “Just because you may feel fine doesn’t mean that you may not have the infection because there are a large percentage of people that they’re seeing don’t ever have signs or symptoms or they’re so mild that they don’t even notice them but they could be potentially spreading that to those that could get really sick from this.”

Petersburg Borough:

*There is no enforcement for people who are breaking state mandates. Borough Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman, said people are policing themselves now. “The State does not have a good enforcement system in place for their mandates that they put out and so we are relying on the honor system a great deal in all of this.”

*There really is no end in sight for the Covid situation so residents should continue to stay vigilant; practice social distancing and masking. Borough Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman, said we haven’t peaked as a nation or a state so it is not appropriate to talk about relaxing restrictions. “Especially since we’re coming into the fishing season and we’re going to have a lot of new people coming into the community to catch and process the fish that are so important to us.”

*Local seafood processors have submitted their plans to the borough for managing out of state workers. Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman said their goals are to try and segregate seasonal workforce from the community as much as possible over the course of the summer. “People should feel confident that our processors are doing what they can to plan and prepare for the influx of workers that they need, that we all need.”

*Instrastate travel for essential workers is allowed and doesn’t require a quarantine. However, businesses that are sending employees out of town are required to send a work plan to the State.

*Local contractors and tradesmen are working but they are being cautious and not taking every job. Residents should consider putting off that type of work that isn’t critical at this time.

*Borough assembly has a meeting Monday night and there could be Covid topics covered. The borough is developing some mandates already:

–Drafting a masking mandate for everyone in Petersburg

–Considering a mandate to require essential businesses between communities to submit travel plans to the borough

–Considering a mandate for local docks and cruise ships. Hagerman said, “We cannot mandate that they quarantine but we can control the use of our facilities.”

Petersburg School District:

*Moving along with middle and high school online. Knowing that the school year is going to be online learning for the rest of the year (from last week’s state announcement) is helpful for planning.

*Working with student groups for creating a graduation plan. Graduation won’t be traditional in a group setting but the school will be doing something different. Also, student leaders are figuring out other events like the Elks scholarship dinner.

*Trying to figure out what finals will be like for high school students

*Attendance is still high for online schooling

*Worked on connecting families in Papkes to Internet (about 10 miles south of town) so students there can participate online.

*Literacy event at 1 p.m. Thursday for Stedman Elementary. See bulletin or Facebook for details.

*Looking to host parent forums for the middle and high schools. Information will be shared through school bulletins being mailed out to parents.

*Next Tuesday will be an opportunity for students to return sports equipment and gear. Seniors can also pick up their caps and gowns for graduation then.

Petersburg Indian Association:

*PIA doors are closed to the public however there are people answering phone calls and serving tribal citizens.

*PIA transit service has been suspended due to concerns over the coronavirus

*PIA has partnered with Mountain View Manor food services and is helping with food deliveries in the evenings.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Tuesday, April 14, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*So far, PMC has collected 69 samples for Covid-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 63 negative, 1 positive (recovered), and 5 tests pending. 

*PMC is waiting on a rapid testing machine in the mail (Abbott testing machine). There will be limitations to how the machine will be used at PMC. They are not 100 percent accurate and will not pick up very light cases of Covid-19. The machines will be used as a screening tool for contact tracing. For example, PMC could rapidly test family members of a Covid patient. PMC will still have to send out swabs to labs as they normally would. Swabbing is much more sensitive in identifying the virus. PMC Lab Manager, Laurie Miller, said, “This is not going to open up testing for everybody. You can’t just come by and get swabbed and get an immediate negative. . . The testing cartridges are also very hard to come by so we can’t test everybody that might want to get tested.”

*Turn-around times for normal testing is still about three days for tests sent to a state lab and about eight days for tests sent to the private company, Quest, which has a backlog.

*Nationally, there may be talk about opening up economies in some areas. However, Alaska’s timeline is lagging behind other states by several weeks. Keep doing what you’re doing. We’re not seeing a lot of cases in Petersburg, which means social distancing is working.

*Expenses have increased and the revenue has gone down. Basically, PMC spends a million a month for salaries and wages. PMC’s margins are always pretty tight and they plan to tap into federal funding opportunities. PMC’s CEO, Phil Hofstetter, said, “We are monitoring it very, very closely.”

*PMC is fully staffed, there are enough nurses to take care of regular patients.

*PMC has started a Healthy Community Series online. There will be a Virtual 5K run for Beat the Odds and Circle of Life. People can participate in April 25-May 2. People can register online for $20 and receive a reflective Buff headwear or you can run for fun. Pick your own course. Post a photo and your time on Beat the Odds Facebook page.

*Dr. Zink, Medical Director for the State of Alaska, had a detailed presentation Monday night. She talked about the state’s goal of broadening testing. PMC CEO, Phil Hofstetter encourages residents to watch the presentation at Coronavirus.state.gov.

Public Health Nursing:  

*There have been 25 state travel declaration forms turned in to public health in person as of Friday. Other travelers said they would be filling out the required state forms online.

Petersburg Borough:

*Trying to decipher the latest mandate from the state that was announced Monday. Mandate 14 is about non-congregate sheltering but has confusing language says Borough Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman. “It’s really confusing to me exactly what exactly that means so we’ve been trying to get to the bottom of that with not a whole lot of luck yet. I guess the good news is that Petersburg was already thinking along those lines and has been working on a plan to provide non-congregate housing and shelter.”

*Haven’t known of any travelers coming into the harbors from out of state that need to fill out state travel declaration forms. Other travelers coming into the harbors would still need to maintain social distance. Borough Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman said, “It’s somewhat of a moving target to figure out if someone needs to strictly quarantine or not.”

*People should look at the quarantine matrix form on the borough’s website for details on who should quarantine and who shouldn’t.

*The Governor’s office is considering guided sport fishing as essential. Customers from in-state could go fishing immediately. People from out of state would still have to fill out a travel declaration and quarantine for 14 days before a trip. 

*At this point it’s hard to know what the impact of Covid-19 has done to the borough’s budget. Hagerman said, “We probably won’t know the full impact against our budget for quite some time.”

Petersburg School District:

*First virtual school board meeting is tonight at 6 p.m. KFSK will be broadcasting the meeting live. People can also participate in the meeting by getting a password from the school district.

*In the meeting the school board will be going over a spring budget revision. Certain budget items have decreased and some have increased. For example, the district doesn’t need substitutes anymore and there has been a decrease in activities. But other things have increased like technology. New Chrome books went out to students grades 3-5. Also, there’s been an increase in food service with all the free meals going out.

*Awarding a pupil transportation bid. Stikine Services has put in a bid for the five year contract.

*A few teachers have submitted their resignations: Ms. Wallace and Ms. Dahlberg.

*Megan Litster will be approved as a new school board member taking over the vacant seat left by Mara Lutomski’s resignation.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Monday, April 13, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*So far, PMC has collected 66 samples for Covid-19 in Petersburg. The results are: 60 negative, 1 positive (recovered), and 5 tests pending.  

*Waiting on two rapid testing machines to arrive in Petersburg from the national stock pile. The machine should be able to give Covid results in 20 minutes but may not be used for every test. The machine comes with a certain number of cartridges.

*New recommendation from the State on masking outdoors: mask if you are exercising outdoors and there is any change you might cross paths with others and stay 20 feet distance from others instead of the usual six feet. This goes for activities like running, hiking, biking because your breathing is heavier and wind can carry moisture droplets through the air.

*Focusing on education this week: keep social distancing, stay home, cover mouths, frequent hand washing.  

*Had a quiet weekend, still firming up processing internally for Covid-19.

Public Health Nursing:

*State has specific criteria for when a patient is “recovered” from Covid and able to go back to work and into society. It includes tracking the number of days since you’ve had symptoms, the number of days from when your symptoms started. Some states use a series of tests to help define “recovered” but there is a shortage of testing in Alaska so that’s not really happening here.

Petersburg Borough:

*The State of Alaska issued amendments to its mandates that clarified that Petersburg is not considered a small community and must follow the state mandates. (Small communities fewer than 3,000 residents can choose to have stricter Covid-19 requirements than the state for things like travelers coming into town.) Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman, said “Actually, they were not good changes for Petersburg tightening things down . . . it soundly positions us as a larger community and restricts our ability to take further action if we’d like.”

*Since Petersburg is officially considered over 3,000 residents, the State’s mandates supersede any local action. So, Petersburg Borough follows the State on what to do with travelers coming into town. As it stands now, the State is supposed to oversee travelers coming in from out of state and out of country to Petersburg.  Travelers are supposed to fill out a state traveler declaration form either in person or electronically. The forms are taken to the Public Health Nurse Office in town and then forwarded on to the State. Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman said, “It is a process that is, I would say, far from perfect. It does not allow very much local follow up. It relies on the honor system for the travelers that are coming in to Petersburg.”

*Craig has had two cases so far of Covid-19. Fishermen from the Craig area are returning to Petersburg from the herring pound fishery. Because Craig is a small town, it could implement strict regulations. The community of Craig had regulations in place to prevent fishermen from coming into the community. Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman, said “A lot of boats from Petersburg that were down there were effectively quarantined while they were on the grounds; they weren’t in contact with the community.”

Mental Health:

*Anxiety and stress right now is absolutely normal. Petersburg Mental Health Services Director, Susan Ohmer, said, “It’s a normal response to a very unique situation.”

*Shifting focus outside of your self can be helpful during stressful times. Reaching out to others, connecting to them in safe ways, can be a great way to relieve stress.

*It’s okay to be less productive than you thought you would be when this all started.

*Structure is good, keeping a daily routine is good, getting up and going to bed at the same time is helpful. Having clear productivity times and clear break times.  Scheduling screen time can help. Even scheduling time to worry, it can help you be more productive because you don’t have to worry all the time.

*Our body reacts to Covid stress the same way it perceives other threats. PMHS Director, Susan Ohmer said we respond physiologically the same as if a lion’s chancing us or we have a work deadline or we’re facing the expectations of a difficult mother-in-law or a pandemic. “Our body is pumping out hormones–adrenaline, cortisol–into your system and it needs a place to go so exercise is one way that gives it a place to go.”

*If you feel like you’re sinking, ask for help. Petersburg Mental Health Services is open for video and telephone conferencing. For help, you can call PMHS at 772-3332. M-F, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. or True North Counseling at (907) 650-7292.

Petersburg School District:

*Gearing up the first virtual school board meeting Tuesday night so school board members and others will be meeting via video conference. It will be broadcast on KFSK as normal and members of the public con contact the school district if they want to speak under people to be heard. There is a password to get on the video conference.

*Looking at the graduation plans, trying to work with students and families and the Advisory School Board. Want to make it a special ceremony even if it can’t be a large gathering.

*IPad are going out today to the K-2 students. The little kids don’t have free reign with the internet. There are apps that are preloaded.

*Book mobile started last week and it has been a success so far. You can order books online at the schools’ websites or you can email librarian Carissa Cotta.

*Spirit week happening in the virtual world at middle and high school.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Friday, April 10, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*Next week would be the earliest that PMC’s rapid test machine could be used. Petersburg was awarded a rapid test machine from the State. The machine is supposed to be in transit now but they don’t know when it will arrive. When it does arrive it will have to be tested in the laboratory before it can be used. The machine should be able to give results in 20 minutes. The machine comes with a certain number of cartridges that must be refilled so it does not allow for unlimited tests and may not be used for every test. It will be one of PMC’s testing options.

*So far, PMC has sampled 62 people for Covid-19. The results are: 53 negative, 1 positive (recovered), and 8 tests pending.  

*PMC is making plans for an overflow hospital ward for positive Covid patients at the school gym if the hospital was full with Covid patients.

*Homemade masks should be made with double-layer thick cotton fabric. Pockets are great for health care workers so they can add filters.

*Some people shouldn’t wear masks: children under the age of 2 should not wear masks or people who are unresponsive or cannot remove their mask or have trouble breathing.

Public Health Nursing:

*The CDC has new recommendations for outside activities. If you’re doing physical activities outside, like biking, hiking, singing and running, wear face masks that cover your mouth and nose. Also, stay 20 feet away from others (not just 6 feet).

*Wash hands before you take off your mask. Only touch the straps/ear loops and don’t have it touch your eyes. Immediately put in washing machine and use hot water. If hand washing, use hot water and soap.

*If this is your first time applying for food stamps, cash assistance, or Medicaid you can apply by email, fax, (or mail but that’s a lot slower). You can also take a photo of your application and email it in to the district office. After they’ve received it you can call the office in Ketchikan at 1-800-478-2135 and tell them you want to get put into their line in the virtual lobby. A case worker will call you back the same day. It’s a quick process after they’ve received your application. Once your application is processed, they’ll mail you a Quest card in the mail, which could take about a week to receive it.

*If you’re been waiting for test results you need to be in quarantine until you get them. Even if your results are negative, you should stay in quarantine if you still have symptoms. If you still have symptoms you should possibly get tested again. (The test might have been done before the virus could show up in the results.)

Petersburg Borough:

*The Governor has issued another mandate closing all schools for the year.

*The Governor extended Mandates 11 and 12 by 10 days regarding social distancing and intrastate travel.

*Still waiting on word back from the State on whether or not Petersburg can implement stricter rules than what is in the state’s mandates. (The State mandates supersede what Petersburg can do)

*Encourage people to follow the State’s masking health alert in order to protect everyone. The reason for masking up is to help the wearer and the people around them.

*The Delegation met with conference of mayors, which included Petersburg Borough officials. Vice Mayor, Jeigh Stanton Gregor, asked them about getting more rapid testing cartridges for the new testing machine that’s on its way to town; also, more PPE for local medical staff. Stanton Gregor said they seemed receptive.

*Do not congregate with people from other households. Stay close to your family but otherwise social distance.

Mental Health:

*All of us are feeling stress because we don’t know how long this will last. Anxiety lives in the unknown so it is extra hard for people.

*There are free things to do to help with stress. Getting outdoors, get in the sun for Vitamin D. There are free apps people can use for help with stress like “Calm”. Try to find safe things that feel good and do more of it.

*True North Counseling is continuing with counseling online with safe HIPAA approved conferencing. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them or Petersburg Mental Health Services if you want help.

Petersburg School District:

*Schools will be physically closed until the end of the school year per a new mandate by the State that was announced Thursday.

*Today was the first day using the book mobile. Families can order books online and they will be delivered.

*Meals are continuing and they will be starting up weekend meals next week using leftovers from the week.

*They are still rolling out IPad to the youngest students. Chrome books went out to students in grades 3-5 this week already.

*There is a school board meeting coming up next Tuesday, April 14. It will be the first virtual school board meeting done online with school board members and staff. They will be using the video conferencing program Ring Central and the public can join the meeting online if they want to.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Thursday, April 9, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*Petersburg will receive rapid testing machines that should have a 20 minute turn-around time for tests. The community has been selected by the State to receive the machines. PMC’s Lab Manager, Laurie Miller, said, “We do not have the machines yet. And we still-once we get them-have to validate them and do all of the lab-techy stuff . . .Until we get the machines here there’s not a whole lot we can do except be excited.”

*So far, PMC has sampled 56 people for Covid-19. The results are: 48 negative, 1 positive, 7 pending.  (These numbers are lower than yesterday because the results reported on Wednesday’s daily show were inaccurate)

*State guidelines have changed about who can be tested. The State is now recommending that anyone with a cough be tested. Also, anyone with two of the following symptoms: fever, muscle or joint aches, nausea, diarrhea, runny nose, headache, chills, fatigue, loss of smell or taste, shaking, or a sore throat. PMC’s Nurse Manager, said, “The more we are finding out about Covid, the more we’re finding that there are more symptoms than just the fever, cough, and shortness of breath.” To be tested or if you have any questions, please call PMC’s 24-hour hotline: (907) 772-5788.

*Everyone should wear a mask when they go out of their homes.

*Information and recommendations about the virus changes quickly. Sometimes it’s hard for people to keep up from day to day so be kind and have empathy for others.

Petersburg Borough:

*Social distancing at the grocery store is very important. Employees at the store are working hard and customers should do their part to social distance. If you have to shop in the store, go by yourself, and shop for a week’s worth of supplies at a time. Also, take advantage of the free delivery service and curb-side pick-up that both Trading Union and Hammer and Wikan are offering.

*Customers at any business should be wearing masks.

*The borough is rolling out its own masking policy. They hope to have masks to all employees by the end of the week.

*If someone tests positive and doesn’t need immediate medical care, they will go back to their residence. The borough is working on a scenario for people who test positive that are also homeless.

*The borough encourages the community to be kind to one another. If you see a person who is doing something against local and state mandates, it’s okay to approach them to inform them at a distance but use kind words.

*The Petersburg Fire Hall needs rubbing alcohol. They are cleaning an ambulance that is dedicated just for Covid patients. They are using a bleach solution now but they would prefer using rubbing alcohol. Donations can be dropped off outside the door at the fire hall.

Petersburg School District:

*Chrome books went out to students grades 3-5 on Wednesday.

*The book mobile will start up this week. Families can sign up for library books and they will be delivered in the same way the free meals go out.

*The school district is distributing about 650 meals a day, M-F. The food service is working on possible meals on the weekends too.

*It’s important to think of creative ways to maintain social distance with friends but still stay connected. That can happen online. The elementary school students are having a spirit week reading challenge where kids dress up in costumes while reading and then post their photos on Facebook.

*High School and Middle School have been using laptops for distance learning for about two weeks. Attendance rates are close to 100 percent for most classes. Communicating with staff is also important, says Principal, Rick Dormer. “School looks a lot different and we really encourage parents to keep talking with their kids and adjusting schedules….This is obviously an emotional change for them. It’s a completely different way of doing school despite still using all the tools we’re all familiar with.”

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Wednesday, April 8, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has sampled 62 people for Covid-19. The results are: 51 negative, 1 positive, 10 pending.  

*Health care workers are the most at-risk for getting the virus. Firming up the interaction in the facility to plan ahead for when Covid patients need care. They’ve taped off areas and reduced interactions among staffing; tracking people going in and out of patient care areas. They are sending people home who can work from home. They are also creating a Team A and Team B in each department that doesn’t cross paths in case someone does become sick.

*PMC wants to be as self-sufficient as possible in terms of supplies and staffing.

*Still planning on an emotion support hotline and will share details on that soon.

Public Health:

*The State is responsible for contacting all possible contacts for any Covid patients. Petersburg’s Public Health Nurse, Erin Michael, has already contacted possible contacts for Petersburg’s one case.

*The State considers contact to a Covid person to be:

–being in contact with the sick person infected with Covid within six feet for at least 10 minutes

–being in contact with secretions with a sick person (coughed on or kissing)

–living in the same household as a person with Covid

–taking care of a person with Covid

–the timeframe varies but typically two weeks from the onset of signs or symptoms

*Isolation vs. Quarantine according to the CDC:

–Isolation is where you are separating a sick person with the contagious disease from people who are not sick

–Quarantine is where you are separating or restricting the movement of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

*Modeling that University of Alaska Anchorage has created, it appears that Alaska is still at the early stages of Covid cases. Alaska is weeks behind the Lower 48 so we can learn and improve our responses from what other states are going through.

Petersburg Borough:

*Implemented a masking policy for all borough employees but it will take time for all employees to get masks as they become available. The borough is getting masks to the police and other public workers first.

*Sandy Dixon has been getting first responders (EMS, police, fire volunteers) ready for responding to Covid cases. They’ve dedicated an old ambulance just for responding to Covid patients.

*The State is asking law enforcement to try and avoid arrests as much as possible and instead educate the public. Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman, said, “It creates another issue for us, of course, if we have prisoners in our jail that may or may not have Covid-19 so we’re trying to avoid that as much as possible.”

*Still waiting for feedback from the State about State mandates 11 and 12. The borough is asking if it can implement stricter travel guidelines than what the State has in place.

*Hand washing stations have been installed near Hammer and Wikan grocery, the post office, the hospital ER entrance, Narrows Inn on Monday night meals, churches during evening meal times, and the public library. The hand washing stations are sponsored by the Petersburg Rotary Club, Petersburg Mental Health, and Petersburg Public Health Center.

Petersburg School District:

*Chrome books, which is a type of laptop, are being handed out today to all students grades 3-5.

*Stedman Elementary School is contacting families that do not have Internet and is trying to help get them online.

*Stedman Elementary School is seeking feedback from parents about how the distance learning system is working at home. Principal Heather Conn said, “We sympathize with you, we understand. If this is too much, communicate that. If all you do is just read with your kids, that’s enough. Just read. Reading brings tons of success. The data is out there; the research is out there.”

*Teachers are using different kinds of communications with parents including texts, emails, phone calls, and Facebook. If communication is not working for parents, please let the school know.

Highlights from KFSK’s Daily Coronavirus Show—Tuesday, April 7, 2020:

Petersburg Medical Center:

*PMC has sampled 49 people for Covid-19 and has received 43 results back so far. One has been positive, 42 negative and six are still pending.

*Petersburg had its first confirmed positive over the weekend. They are talking with the State a lot about preparations for future patients who might need care.

*PMC is doing daily inventory checks are being done for PPE, personal protective equipment.

*Trying to get the word out to the community about social distancing and quarantining. PMC is considering the details of out-of-state seasonal seafood workers coming to town.

*They have been having a few issues with the 24-hour Coronavirus hotline (907) 772-5788 because of issues with some of the cell phone carriers. If you leave a message someone will call you right back. If you can’t get through at all, call the hospital instead and they will transfer you to the hotline.  

*PMC is working on an emotional support line. They will be sharing more information about later this week.

*The biggest message PMC wants to share right now is that everyone should assume that they have Covid-19 and that others they are around have it as well. That will lead people into good social distancing and disinfecting practices.

*Public Health is in charge of investigating contacts for any positive test result results. There is a Public Health office in Petersburg that is following local cases.

Petersburg Borough:

*The Parks and Rec Department have closed playgrounds and shelters around town. Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman said, “Playground equipment is very hard to clean and keep clean and as well as shelters where people can congregate out of the weather. That really is counterintuitive to try to keep people apart. . . It’s not anything that we wanted to do, it just makes sense and we’re really focused on trying to mitigate any spread of Covid-19.”

*The borough is checking with the State about closing outhouses out the road like at Green’s Camp.

*After the first positive test result showed up in Petersburg on Sunday, the borough issued a press release and sent out a code red alert to residents who were in the system. The borough is encouraging people to sign up for their code red alerts through links on the borough’s website. You can choose to receive texts, emails or both. However, the borough does not expect to send out alerts every time someone local tests positive.

*There is a contact investigation going on by state health officials for people who were possibly in contact with the infected person. Contacts are considered people who were within six feet for at least 10 minutes.  

*The borough is still waiting to hear back from the State as to whether or not the borough can restrict travelers more than what’s in State mandates. Right now, the State’s language allows for seasonal seafood workers coming in from out of State to quarantine for 14 days while on the job at a seafood processing plant. They are supposed to social distance while working under the quarantine.

*The borough has created a quarantine matrix chart for residents to use to see what they should be doing. It’s posted on the borough’s website.

*With residents disinfecting more, they should NOT be flushing wipes down the toilet even if they say they are “flushable”. Incident Commander, Karl Hagerman said, “They really cause a lot of trouble in the waste water system. They clog pumps and other equipment. It’s just much better if you use flushable wipes to sanitize any areas in your homes, please just put those in the trash.”

*Rate increases for utility customers that were scheduled for this spring are now on hold.

Petersburg School District:

*A new school board member, Megan Litster, has been approved. She’s filling the seat left vacant by Mara Lutomski who resigned. The term goes until the October municipal election.

*Next week’s school board meeting, Tuesday, April 14, will happen remotely through video conferencing.

*The schools have closed the playgrounds. Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter, said, “That seems logical at this point.”

*Computers for elementary school students are scheduled to be deployed this week. Parents should be on the lookout for information from their teachers about that.