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

COVID show notes for Friday, May 14, 2021 –

Incident commander Karl Hagerman  – COVID situation in Petersburg right now, still at low risk, four active cases, all travel related, people who have left Petersburg, returned here and since tested positive. They were symptomatic and were tested at the airport and at Petersburg Medical Center’s respiratory clinic. They have been directed to isolate and he believes the risk to festival-goers is low.

Petersburg still has a face covering mandate in place. He mentioned the Centers for Disease Control’s latest guidance on fully vaccinated people and masking.

Please observe the local mandate and be safe during the festival. The festival is a test of sorts for the community and the local vaccination rate. The face covering mandate could be up for reconsideration depending on case numbers, however, he’s taking a wait and see approach until a week or two after the festival.

“If we can make it through this festival without seeing a large outbreak and a large impact on our health care system here in Petersburg then it really is telling me that we’re heading down the right path, that vaccination is working for us and that it’s probably time to start dialing some things back, getting back to somewhat normal,” Hagerman said.

He did caution the potential for outbreak still exists and noted the case numbers in Ketchikan.

For the state’s travel portal online, when is that required for travel?

Register ahead of travel online and fill out a safe travels form. Petersburg still have a mandate requiring testing for people not fully vaccinated who have traveled here from out of state. The state is moving slowly away from the emphasis on greeting and screening to focus more on available testing. So some changes may be coming to the airport screening program.

Phil Hofstetter, CEO of the Petersburg Medical Center – looking at downgrading masking requirements for fully vaccinated staff in non-public areas with the new CDC guidance. Asymptomatic scheduled testing no longer a requirement for fully vaccinated. Continues to advocate for people to get the COVID vaccine and also notes recent outbreaks in Fairbanks and Ketchikan.

Vaccination started for 12 and older in Petersburg?

Yes, 12-15 year olds are getting shots, some of them today. Same process for signing up, online at or by calling 772-5545. He also notes Rexall Drug is able to do vaccination as well as PMC.

Erica Kludt-Painter, superintendent Petersburg schools – staying the course with protocols and practices for the last couple of weeks of school, but happy to hear about some vaccination for younger teens. Cautiously optimistic for the rest of the school year in-person learning as long as case numbers remain low. A hybrid in-person ceremony and socially-distanced parade for high school graduation on May 24. Details to follow.

Liz Cabrera, Petersburg Economic Development Council – The Small Business Administration announced this week the restaurant restoration fund was over-subscribed, business owners applied for more than the money that is available. However, the SBA set aside a portion of the funding for smaller food service establishments, applicants with gross receipts of under $50K. Those businesses should still apply as soon as possible

The Paycheck Protection Program is also running out of funding, extended to May 31st. SBA is currently only accepting loan applications from what they call community financial institutions. There are none in Petersburg but find a list of those lenders online at

The state of Alaska announced it is ending federal pandemic unemployment compensation, a weekly payment of $300, on June 12. Regular unemployment compensation and the extended weeks will continue until September.

Federal Communications Commission has created a program for broadband internet cost assistance for families impacted by COVID-19. She believes GCI is participating in that. Do an online search for emergency broadband assistance. There are $50-75 payments to offset the cost of broadband internet.

NOAA Fisheries assistance for subsistence users the deadline to apply for that is May 21st. PPP open until May 31st but running out of funding. State’s assistance for heating has been extended until the end of August. And deadline to file taxes was extended until this Monday, May 17.

April 30, 2021 Notes from KFSK’s Bi-Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–We are happy to report that there are no active cases in Petersburg right now. Things are looking pretty good, the risk level in Petersburg is really low, we’re at yellow, and we’re really happy to see that.  

–As we get closer to the Little Norway Festival, I want to thank all the event planners that have submitted mitigation plans for their events and functions. It really helps the community to stay safe and keep our risk level low. Planning for those mitigations and making sure that participations and volunteers are safe during the festival is really important so we appreciate that. The Chamber of Commerce has been working diligently on that as well. They are continuing to put out safety messages and will be hopefully spreading the word in so far as staying safe during the festival while it’s going on.

–Most of the festival events are outdoors. The festival will be sticking to the basics of mitigation strategy. The masking mandate for the community is still in place so people should wear masks when indoors or if you are outdoors and you cannot social distance. Maintain social distancing with others if you can. The parade is asking the audience to spread out along the route. They will be lining up at the top of PFI hill, heading down Main Street, up Fram, and then back down First Street.

–The festival’s food court will be different this year, it won’t be under a big tent; it will be spread out along the block. There is no need to cram together downtown.

–The Chamber has purchased some foot-operated hand sanitizing pumps, which will be at the festival and downtown all throughout the summer.

–Most importantly, if anyone is experiencing symptoms, they should refrain from participating in the festival. The last thing we want is an outbreak around the festival.

–The EOC purchased a few restroom trailers last year and we are going to deploy at least one to the municipal parking lot. People can wash their hands there or use the restroom and it will be in place throughout the summer and fall, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The schedule could change if there is any vandalism.

–Be kind to others at the Little Norway Festival. If someone is wearing a mask or is not wearing a mask next to you and it doesn’t agree with you, don’t make a scene, just move away. We want everybody to have a good time but be safe as well.

–Vaccination is our path back to normal here. We are doing well in Petersburg but vaccinations have definitely slowed down. All people need to do is call the clinic or hotline to get on a list for a vaccine.

— The current contract for the airport testing with the state expires at the end of June and we’re getting information about the future of it but it’s slow to arrive. The state is indicating that they do want to extend the contract with us but we don’t have a clear picture of what it will look like.

–When a state ferry docks in Petersburg with cases on board, we just don’t have staffing to meet all the ferries that come in. There is a banner out there and the information is available on the ferries themselves about local mandates. Anybody that gets off the ferry can still access the testing that is at the airport but it’s not as convenient as the travelers that come in to the airport.

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

–We are focusing on increasing our vaccines and making them as available as possible. We are talking about having access points for vaccinations, making them available all summer. We continue to do mini-clinics in our facility. That does keep moving the needle forward.

–We are watching the CDC’s guidance on their masking and how that might affect how we work inside the PMC facility.

–We’re also seeing how the modified declaration with the state shakes out as well.

–To get vaccines from the state, we just have to have a plan for administering it. We cannot stockpile vaccines so we have to have a plan to use them. As we get vaccination groups going we order the vaccines that we need. Currently, you need to be a resident of Alaska 16 and over or you work in Alaska and you are 16 and older. After June 1st, visitors can also get a vaccine. But to be honest, if we have an extra dose and we have an arm, we aren’t going to waste it.

–The pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been lifted. If patients have any concerns about it patients can contact their healthcare provider. It’s important to understand that any risk from a COVID vaccine is much, much lower than from getting COVID itself. More data is coming out about how effective the vaccines are.

–There are some people who have had the vaccines and still get COVID that are called “breakthrough cases”. That is not surprising because there is no 100 percent with vaccines. The majority of these breakthrough cases were asymptomatic. The vaccines are very effective against serious illness and death. The vaccine is doing its job.

–Pfizer has put a request in to the FDA to extend their vaccines to age 12 and over. It’s expected that children 12 and over will be able to get the vaccine here in Petersburg by this summer.

–To get on the waiting list, it’s best to go to PMC’s website, or you can call the clinic 772-5545.

–It’s a pretty clear distinction that vaccinations work by looking at regions. When you start seeing the vaccinations going up to 40 to 50 percent of the eligible population, you start seeing the number of cases per 100,000 go down.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter

–We are heading into the last month of school and we are doing well with case numbers. Our goal is to keep students in-person through the year. We are still in green status.

–We are working on a modified graduation and are planning a small ceremony indoors for families and then a large parade through town like last year.

–Our sports are going well. Our kids went down to regional wrestling in Ketchikan (which had some positive COVID cases this week). We are very grateful that our mitigations were already in place that coaches and athletes were following. We are still doing our antigen testing twice a week on all of our athletes and those all came back negative yesterday. We are hopeful to not see any case connections with Ketchikan. Track was down in Ketchikan too but they were all outdoors and didn’t spend any time at the gym there. Baseball games here against Ketchikan were also outdoors.

–Vaccinations are moving towards children 12 and up. There is good information with the state’s ECHO that we are referring families to so they can hear from experts with the state for that information.

Petersburg Economic Development Council—Director Liz Cabrera

–There is a federal program that allows employers and self-employed and non-profits to provide sick and medical leave to those who are unable to work for reasons that are related to COVID. The employers can receive tax credits to recoup those funds pretty quickly. There is more information about that on the IRS website and on the borough’s website.

–The SBA will begin accepting applications on Monday for the restaurant restoration fund, which is a new federal program specific to food related businesses. The Alaska district of the SBA is providing multiple webinars about this. The SBA can also give assistance to people who call 844-279-8898. The SBA has also announced that they have other mechanisms in place for businesses to apply to this. Businesses will be able to apply through some a point of sale applications that they use. There a few different options. It’s expected that there will be a lot of interest in this program so funds could go quickly.

–The State of Alaska low income heating assistance program has extended its application period so they are now accepting applications through August 31st this year. The program provides utility assistance to qualifying applicants. The state has also set up a virtual call center to help applicants: 1-800-478-7778. This is the main phone number and someone should answer. There are also paper applications available at the borough finance office and online on the borough’s web page.

–The NOAA Fisheries Assistance Program, the deadline has passed for commercial users. The deadline for subsistence users is May 21st. Those applications have to be mailed in or uploaded to their website. They do not accept emailed applications. You have to go to their website to get the application:

–For non-profit the Alaska Can Do, the final round of funding is open for community needs such as domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, suicide prevention and other needs. The individual grant amounts are between $5-15,000.

–The deadline for the PPE program is May 31st. The funds probably won’t last that long so get your application in soon.

–It’s not known yet if any money will be coming to Petersburg through the American Rescue Plan Act.

April 16, 2021 Notes from KFSK’s Biweekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–We reported out four cases yesterday (Thursday) and later in the evening another case was reported so we’ll try to issue a press release by 5:00. We’re trying to keep it to one press release a day if we can.

–It looks like three of the cases are from one household and are travel related. We believe the other two cases are community spread. So, the virus is still spreading in the community and we’re not out the woods yet. We need to keep maintaining the protective mitigations that we’ve all been working on.

–The borough assembly Monday (tonight) will be considering the health mandates. I think as we continuing to move through the pandemic, we will still see these small clusters of cases happen. If we continue to follow recommendations, listen to public health, and allow the contact tracing to happen, then these cases can be isolated and won’t pose much risk to the community.

–The EOC is recommending that some of the health mandates get downgraded. We are recommending to downgrade the testing for travelers at the airport from a mandate to a recommendation for intrastate travelers. Intrastate travelers could test if they want to but it would not be required. Interstate and international travelers would still be required to test coming into Petersburg unless they are fully vaccinated.

–The harbor access mandate would also allow ships with people who are fully vaccinated to enter Petersburg. It still requires the ships to call in to the health officer before disembarking but hopefully that would be a short conversation if everyone is vaccinated.

–We still support the public meeting mandate and the face covering mandate. We believe the face covering mandate is still important.

–The first variant case of the corona virus was identified in Petersburg. The case was from the middle of March and involved the variant B-117, which is more contagious. The state does not test all swabs for variants; it’s a randomized sample and it takes a while to complete.

–Our travel mandate depends a lot of the State of Alaska Travel Portal and that system. There will be some changes to that portal to a simpler questionnaire, which will happen this coming weekend. The State is changing the name from Alaska Travel Portal to “Alaska Safe Travels”. The goal is to make it quicker for folks. The system still requires people to register in advance but it will be much faster with only six questions to answer. The change should be an improvement at the airport.

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

–The focus has been vaccinations and staying strong with that. These smaller clusters remind us that we need to take opportunities to test and vaccinate.

–There is a pause on using the Johnson and Johnson vaccine because of possible clotting. It’s extremely rare, less than one in a million chance and it seems to affect only younger to middle aged women. We’re waiting to get the clearance on the pause on the J and J vaccine. For those here who have already received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, there is not cause for a lot of worry. However, if you have symptoms such as severe, sudden headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, shortness of breath, to seek medical care right away. Once the pause is lifted, we’ll start using the J and J vaccine again.

–The efficacy of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are excellent and we’ll continue to use them. We’ll order them as needed and highly encourage them.

–The demand for vaccines locally has slowed down but we haven’t gone a day without people signing up.

–The last big vaccine clinic was a week ago and it went great. We vaccinated about 185 people for both first and second doses.

–We see Covid cases surge in other parts of the world, which are reminders that we need to stay vigilant.

–Testing continues at the airport; we are working with the borough who is working with the state to make it more efficient.

–People who have any sort of symptoms, please stay home and call the hotline. We can get you in to get tested that same day unless it’s Sunday and then you’ll know what you’re dealing with. Call the hotline as soon as you notice your symptoms. (Hotline: 772-5788)

–It’s important for employers to screen symptoms every day. If cases get into work places then it’s a much larger issue for quarantining than it is if just one person quarantines with symptoms.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter

–We had a board meeting this week and discussed the travel policy and what that means for vaccinated people. The main policy will likely not change for the remainder of the school year whether it’s intrastate or interstate travel.

–We’ve had a few classrooms affected by the most recent Covid cases in town so we’re not completely out of the woods.

–We’re working on graduation for this spring. We’re looking at a smaller indoor ceremony for family members and then have another large parade like last year.

–We are in the thick of activities for wrestling, baseball and track. Our baseball players are returning from Sitka for games there. Wrestling is gearing up for regionals. Track will have a meet next weekend. Masking in competition and testing varies from sport to sport and district to district. For example, Wrangell required all athletes and adults to test right before the competition. We are also continuing with our own antigen testing a few times a week.

**KFSK’s next COVID show will be Friday, April 30**

COVID-19 panel discussion highlights Friday, April 2, 2021

One note this show will be reduced to every other week, on Fridays at the same time. There won’t be shows on April 9th or 23rd this month, unless needed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidelines for travel noting fully vaccinated people are less likely to get or spread COVID-19 and are safe to travel within the U.S. The CDC still recommending against non-essential travel but says the fully vaccinated or those who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past three month do not need to self-quarantine  or get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it. What does that mean for the fully vaccinated here in Petersburg?

Karl Hagerman, incident commander for the Petersburg borough  – the guidelines do state that travelers still need to follow state or local requirements. There are still local mandates in place that require screening around travel.

There is also a difference between screening and testing at the airport. The screening is required of all travelers, even if you are vaccinated or have only traveled for a short time. Travelers should still log on to the state’s COVID app, fill out a travel form and go through the screening tent. If needed the traveler will be directed to get tested.

Any plan to revisit the local mandates?

I’m sure they will come back up. The struggle we have is differentiating between the vaccinated and non-vaccinated, how do you determine that. There’s been no move to create a vaccine passport at the federal or state level, which puts that task on the shoulders of local health officials and it’s not clear how to do that at this point.

The community is still at low-risk, yellow status?

Yes. There are eight active cases, a mixed of travel related, congregate housing spread and community spread. The positivity rate is at 3.5 percent as of this morning which is higher than it should be but the hospital is not stressed right now and the school is weathering this cluster.

Were the cases reported this week related to the local outbreak from February and March?

Erin Michael, public health nurse – no 100 guarantee that they are related to that outbreak but it is likely some of them were related to clusters from that outbreak. Some of them were travel related and other contacts to other positives in the community. There has been at least one case that contact tracers haven’t been able to find its source and that person had not traveled and hadn’t been identified as a close contact of a previous case.

How has contact tracing been going?

People have been responsive and have been answering calls of contact tracers and we appreciate that.

She would also encourage people to check out the CDC website on recommendations for the fully vaccinated, even beyond travel. Still encourage people even fully vaccinated not to be in large gatherings, especially indoors. Still no word on whether the fully vaccinated can spread the virus so need to continue with precautions.

Phil Hofstetter, CEO of the Petersburg Medical Center – focusing on recovery with this outbreak, continued testing to stay vigilant on community spread, and continuing with the vaccination effort . Another reminder for people to focus on their overall wellness, cancer screenings, annual check ups keep up with those.

Jennifer Bryner, chief nursing officer PMC – another vaccine clinic on Friday, April 9 at the community gym, both Moderna and Johnson and Johnson. Just got notification from the state for an additional 50 doses of the single shot J&J. At this point we have enough vaccine to get doses to anybody who wants it. Get on the waiting list at or by calling 772-5545. These clinics runs smoothly, people are in and out within a half hour. We’re also happy to talk about the pros and cons of the vaccine or talk to your doctor about it. This will be the last large community vaccine clinic planned at the gym. After Friday it will be at the medical center as they sign up and there’s vaccine available.

Liz Bacom, PMC infection prevention/quality manager – interesting to see an epidemic bulletin from the state of Alaska on an outbreak at a long term care facility (not identified but not in Petersburg). It reaffirms that the people who were vaccinated were not hospitalized and did not have serious symptoms. Also people who have already recovered from an infection should still consider the vaccine because it gives more protection than the body’s natural immunity.

Also its interesting to note that at least one vaccine maker is testing the vaccine or teens 12 and older and that information could be coming out later this year.

Erica Kludt-Painter, Petersburg school superintendent – to follow up on that, that does sound exciting for families to be making those decisions possibly as soon as this summer for younger family members to get vaccinated eventually.

Regional basketball all complete, practices have started up for other sports. Wrestling has its first travel to Juneau this weekend.

Moving forward with bi-weekly antigen testing in the next week or so for student activities and travel.

There will be a flood of job postings coming soon or already out, since there were emergency hires last fall. Those have to be reposted, so if you have a teaching degree look for those job postings.

Happy to still be in session, we were impacted by this latest group of cases but remained in-person this week.

How about graduation this spring?

We are hoping to have a more traditional ceremony, possibly in the gym this year but we may continue the parade that happened last year as well, so possibly some combination of the old and new format.

Liz Cabrera, Petersburg Economic Development Council – I’ve talked about how the American Rescue Plan allowed for exclusion of some unemployment income in 2020 on taxes. Internal Revenue Service has come out and said there is no need to file an amended return if you’ve already filed taxes. The IRS will automatically issue refunds for those people who didn’t take that into account. If you haven’t filed taxes yet there is some guidance on the IRS website.

Paycheck Protection Program has been extended until the end of May but businesses should apply sooner rather than later.

CDC has extended the rental eviction moratorium through the end of June 30.

The Small Business Administration is getting ready to roll out a restaurant restoration fund, a grant program for entities that serve food and drink. Companies will need to register through a federal System for Award Management at and that takes some paperwork so do it now and don’t wait.

A question on vaccine passports for travel, comments from the panel on the possibility there?

Karl Hagerman – Governor Dunleavy has made it clear he is not interested in this at the state level, not sure how the federal government will handle this either. Some industries like the cruise industry, some companies are requiring vaccine for passengers and crew.

Does that negate the need for the local health mandate for cruise ship preapproval before docking here?

It lessens the need for it, but there is still the possibility for infection among the vaccinated and still some need for them to check in before docking.

Erin Michael – there are upticks of cases across the U.S. and the potential for a fourth wave, especially with more travel and variants that are more contagious. We’re not quite through this please continue with all the precautions.

The next panel discussion will be Friday, April 16, 2021.

COVID show highlights for Friday, March 26, 2021

(oops, wrong date in the introduction of the recording)

Petersburg Medical Center CEO Phil Hofstetter – yellow status at the hospital and grateful to be on the downside of the local outbreak.

Tracking House bill 76 and Senate bill 56 that would extend the state’s disaster declaration. PMC has received word that waivers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are still valid to allow for telehealth to continue, so that’s good news.

The hospital may lose some of the benefits of that disaster declaration, especially airport testing. The Dunleavy administration and legislature are trying to figure out continued airport testing if those bills are not passed. PMC still supports passage of the bills; there are still uncertainties. For example, insurance payers are not paying for things like medication assisted treatment through telehealth, just one example. There’s also uncertainty about procurement of supplies like monoclonal antibodies for treatment, or vaccines.

COVID testing has slowed down in both symptomatic and asymptomatic people. There still people being tested, between 5 and 15 a day, definitely down from numbers during the outbreak.

Question on people here who have tested positive after being fully vaccinated, how have they fared?

People did show symptoms. He can’t speak on specifics because of privacy but in general the vaccines prevent getting severe COVID, admission into the hospital, intensive care unit or mortality. It’s still being studied as well as how much a person who is fully vaccinated can transmit the virus.

Question on people who are 90 days past their second shot, are they still considered fully vaccinated?

Liz Bacom, PMC Infection Prevention/ Quality Manager – Not seeing the 90 days anymore in CDC guidance, they are looking at four months or even longer for protection. I think the three month was arbitrary and they are not talking about boosters at this time past the 90 days.

Jennifer Bryner, PMC chief nursing officer – the next vaccine clinic will be April 9 at the community gym. It will be second doses of the Moderna vaccine and a few first doses of that as well. There will also be at most 150 doses of the single shot Johnson and Johnson. Get on the waiting list online at or by calling 772-5545. That’s most likely the last large community clinic, after that it will be by appointment in groups of five or ten through PMC. A few businesses are making it mandatory and so there are more people signing up.

Is availability no longer a problem?

The state is working to get more vaccine out to communities. The supply should soon start to equal demand. The Johnson and Johnson doses are still limited, allocated 150 for April but may get more of that toward the end of next month.

Also the only vaccine with emergency authorization for people 16 and older is the Pfizer vaccine. If there are 16 and 17 year olds looking to get vaccinated, get on the waiting list and they’ll contact you when they have available Pfizer vaccine.

Four nurses locally are graduating from the two-year University of Alaska nursing program. Those four will continue nursing at PMC. If other are interested call Jennifer Bryner at 772-5704, looking at the best time to start the next cohort for here in Petersburg.

School superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter – back in person learning this past week and it’s gone well. There are still students who are finishing up their five day quarantine and testing after travel during spring break.

It was the second week of doing antigen testing on high school athletes as a screening tool and that may be expanded. It may allow for some reduced masking with that testing.

Boys and girls high school basketball will play in Ketchikan Saturday and these will be the final games of the season. They won’t be traveling to the state tournament because of the red level, high risk status around Palmer and Wasilla.

The district will be posting a number of jobs to fill for next year.

Do the new CDC guidelines for schools change things here?

It does give some more flexibility for class sizes, so that’s good news.

Liz Cabrera, Petersburg Economic Development Council – IRS announced next batch of payments to individuals of up to $1,400 have gone out in the mail, either a paper check or a prepaid debit card, known as an economic impact payment card. Look for those and don’t throw them out.

You can check on the status of your payment through

On the health care front, people who buy their own insurance through marketplace are eligible to receive increased tax credits to reduce their premiums. That goes into effect April 1 for new policies or updating existing coverage. August 15 deadline for making those changes or enrolling to take advantage of that. Beginning in July anyone who received unemployment in compensation in 2021 may be eligible for an additional tax credit savings when enrolling in health insurance. It’s part of the American Rescue Plan and it’s an attempt to reduce health care costs for individuals who are buying it through the marketplace.

The Small Business Administration has increased the maximum amount for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans to 500,000 dollars. SBA will be reaching out to businesses for them to request an increase in a loan amount.

Both the House and Senate have passed an extension for the Paycheck Protection Program and it looks like the new deadline will be May 31st. But don’t wait until then to get applications in for that.

Phil Hofstetter, PMC – highlighting the importance of testing, very important when you have an opportunity to be tested, please do so.

March. 19, 2021 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–We did downgrade the local risk level to orange earlier in the week. We will continue with that risk level and reassess where we are on Monday. Hopefully we can be back to yellow. Numbers are looking much better this week. Our positivity rate is down to 1.1 percent as of this morning with three new cases in the last seven days. So, things are definitely heading in the right direction.

–Even though we are dropping down in risk level, we are still in orange. Mitigation measures are still in place for gatherings. Gatherings were a bit part of the spread of Petersburg’s outbreak. Gatherings should not be more than 50 people outdoors and no more than 25 people indoors with masking and social distancing included. Hand washing and hand sanitizer is still important. The more we congregate the bigger chance there is for spread and then we’re down the rabbit hole again as far as shutting things down.

–Under orange risk level bars are encouraged to have 25 percent capacity; restaurants are encouraged to have 50 percent capacity. Personal services businesses should only be by appointment.

–The goal is to allow the community’s case counts to continue to come down.

–Through the contact tracing that the state has performed following the outbreak, travel was seen as a part of the outbreak equation. In light of spring breakers who have traveled out of town, it’s very important to test when you come back home. Tests at the airport are free. It’s an easy process if you sign up on the state’s Travel Portal. If you do that ahead of time it goes quickly. That testing really helps us identify any cases and isolate them so they are not spread to others. It’s very important to come back for the second test 5-7 days after arrival, which is also free. Someone can travel and be infected but not have the viral load to be detected until the second test.

–Chamber of Commerce announced yesterday that the Little Norway Festival is a go this year. There is quite a bit of concern with a festival during a pandemic, of course. But the Chamber is focused on having a safe festival this year so we will have mitigation measures in place. It will probably not look the same as past events. The Chamber is focusing on mitigation plans and requesting any vendor that is sponsoring an event or selling food, come up with a mitigation plan. We can make it happen as long as we are serious about following the mitigation plans that are put forward by the Chamber and the EOC. If we do have an outbreak prior to the event and the town goes to red, expect a cancelation under those circumstances.

–There are still cruise lines that are on the harbor’s schedule. There are three or four different ships coming through starting in June; a total of 65 port calls between June and September. There are still movements being made in the industry to try to come up with a regional approach to cruise ship mitigations. That has not been finalized. The borough still has the harbor mandate in place so any visiting boat coming into the harbor needs to check in with Dr. Mark Tuccillo before coming on shore.

–Petersburg borough department facilities have reopened to the public. People can visit the Parks and Rec Community Center and the Public Library; remaining conscience of the capacity of the buildings.

–Thank you to everyone who has helped get us on the right track after the outbreak. It would be nice to stay at a really low case count on the way to the Little Norway Festival.

–Beginning next week we will be reporting out weekly updates assuming things stay as they are. Today is the last day for our daily press releases unless there are cases that pop up.

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

–Vaccinations are continuing to go really well. Last Friday we had a community vaccination clinic that had all three vaccines including the Johnson and Johnson. The Johnson and Johnson was very popular with folks. We were able to use every dose that we needed to use.

–The Johnson and Johnson, even though it’s a different type of a vaccine, has the same possible side effects as the other vaccines. It still stimulates your immune system so possible side effects can be headaches, muscle aches, chills, feverish that can last about one to two days.

–Our last clinic for the Johnson and Johnson is Monday and then we will be out until our allocation in April. We’ve been allocated only 100 doses for April but we might be able to get more. We will use it as much as we can. The Johnson and Johnson has a longer shelf life than the other two vaccines but it still doesn’t last forever.

–We do have a second dose clinic for Pfizer that will be at the hospital in early April. We will have a clinic at the gym on April 9, which will be both first and second doses. I anticipate we will see smaller clinics in the future as we have vaccinated a lot of the people in Petersburg who want the vaccine.

–If people want the vaccine, they should get on PMC’s waiting list because that is the best way for us to reach you. We go through that list and fill out our appointment spots. Go online to PMC’s website, or call PMC at 772-5545 and leave a message. We will try to accommodate your schedule if you’re out fishing or traveling.

–Testing is very important right now to keep the spread down. Most of the testing is happening at PMC’s respiratory clinic unless it’s testing for travel at the airport. If you don’t have any symptoms, you can still get tested at PMC by calling 772-4299. The COVID hotline to call if you do have any symptoms out of the ordinary is 772-5788.

Petersburg School District

–The school district is on spring break but the schools will be back to in-person learning starting Monday, March 22.

Petersburg Economic Development Council–Liz Cabrera:

— The IRS announced that they are extending the filing deadline for individuals filing taxes from April 15 to May 17.

–The $1,400 economic stimulus checks are going out to people now. They are either being sent by electronic transfers to your account or by debit card or check in the mail.

–A number of businesses in town have received low interest economic loans, economic injury disaster loans. Those who received the loan in 2020, there is a 24 month deferment. Those who received a loan in 2021 have an 18 month deferment. Interest does accrue during this period.

–The IRS issued new tax filing instructions for people who have unemployment. The first $10,000 is exempt from 2020 taxes.  If you’ve already filed taxes, the IRS is asking people to wait to file an amended return until they have issued more guidance. They haven’t posted that yet.


–The PPP loan program deadline is March 31.

–State of Alaska PFD deadline is March 31.

–Petersburg Community Foundation’s grant program deadline for non-profits is March 31.

–The NOAA Fisheries Assistance Program deadline is April 23.

–The IRS filing deadline has shifted to May 17.

March 12, 2021 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

*Today is the one year anniversary for KFSK’s COVID show*

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

–Numbers are dropping, which is very heartening to see.

–Three new cases yesterday with one of those being a resident outside of Petersburg. New positives are happening about every day so there is still community spread. It’s important for people to be careful and limit your circle. As we’ve seen, the spread can accelerate rapidly and those outbreaks impact the community greatly.

–We will look at our numbers on Monday to see about changing the community’s risk status. What we would need to see to drop into the orange level is a drop in our positivity rate. Our positivity rate has actually been going up the last few days. It needs to be less than three percent. We need our seven day average to be less than six to go into the orange level. Things are heading in the right direction, we just have a little more work to do. Please be mindful and please go slow with reopening. The recommendation from EOC is still that non-essential businesses should be closed and essential businesses have no walk-in business.

–Total case count for Petersburg during the pandemic so far is 156 total positives; most of them have come in the last three weeks. The hospital and Public Health have worked a lot of hours to manage the outbreak. There has been a massive amount of testing.

–For outbreak locations, the EOC does not have the authority to make businesses close. That decision rests in the hands of the borough assembly. It comes back to the ordinance that passed in 2020 on how the borough deals with public health threats. The EOC has the communication risk mitigation plan so we can recommend actions that businesses follow but we cannot make them do it.

–Anybody who is on the fence about getting a vaccine, I would encourage you to do it. It’s easy to get on the list in Petersburg by calling PMC or going online to PMC’s website to fill out the quick survey. The sooner that we as a community and as a nation achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 the sooner we can get back to normal.

–Vaccinations will be available to seasonal seafood processors in Petersburg and the medical center is communicating with the local processors about that.

Theresa Ruzek, State of Alaska Public Health Nurse Manager:

–I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m very excited with the way that the State of Alaska has handled vaccinations. The tiers have been eliminated, which means that anyone 16 years and older can be vaccinated. I highly recommend that.

–Hold the course. If you can continue a little bit longer with social distancing, mask wearing, and hand hygiene, it will really help. The outbreak in Petersburg was eye-opening with how quickly the coronavirus can spread.

–For fully vaccinated people (two doses plus two weeks to build immunity), guidelines came out on March 8. You do not have to quarantine anymore if you’ve been in contact with a COVID positive person. In limited ways, fully vaccinated people can have more social interaction.

Petersburg Medical Center—CEO Phil Hofstetter

–The vaccination clinic today is going great, just a logistical challenge because we have all three vaccines available—Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson’s single dose.

250 people scheduled for vaccinations today. Some were first doses and some were second doses and some were Johnson and Johnson, which would be just a single dose.

–We have a little over 1,000 people in Petersburg now that have had both doses of the COVID vaccine.

–We are still running the asymptomatic testing through the airport testing tent but it will be moved to the respiratory clinic next week. I can’t stress enough about the importance of testing going forward. We cannot let our guard down with testing, even with vaccines, as variants present, especially with tourism and visitors coming into town.

–We are working on debriefing from the outbreak and going over what we’ve learned from the outbreak.

–Long Term Care has loosened visitations. We will be reaching out to families in the coming days about guidance for that. The residents there are 100 percent vaccinated. It’s been very challenging not having open visitation.

–We have signed a contract with a new vendor for a new electronic medical records system. It’s a top system and they should have a robust portal for patients.

–The outbreak was very exhausting and difficult. I want to commend our staff for their hard work. Cost-wise it was expensive for PMC, it cost a quarter of a million dollars just for the outbreak.

–It is unclear still if the new COVID relief bill will have money for community hospitals. We are anticipating some but we are not sure what we can recoup, if anything. There should be an allocation for vaccines and testing but we don’t have a clear picture of that yet.

–We should not be in short supply for vaccines. We are highly encouraging getting seasonal workers vaccinated and we will do whatever we can to help make that happen.

Petersburg Economic Development Council–Liz Cabrera:

–The COVID relief bill was signed by the President yesterday and there are stimulus checks of $1,400 for most people. There should be direct deposits and debit cards being dispersed starting next week.

–The new relief bill extends unemployment benefits and also includes a $300/week supplement.

–Unemployment benefits are considered taxable income so people who have received unemployment, you will not be taxed on the first $10,200. If you are on unemployment and you have not filed your taxes, hold off a week to see what the IRS guidance is. If you have filed already, there is a way to amend your return but wait a week or two to get specific guidance from the IRS.

–There is a lot of focus on tax credits in the relief bill so paying attention when doing taxes and consulting with tax professionals will be important to make sure that you are taking advantage of all the opportunities.

–There is one new business program, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which is intended to help the food sector, specifically. The SBA is operating that program and they are working on getting it up and running.

–The PPP deadline is March 31. Congress is considering extending the program.

–The Petersburg Community Grant program deadline is March 31. People can access the application online at

–The NOAA Fisheries Assistance is open through April 23 for applications and the address is or you can call 1-888-517-7262.

–March 31 is the deadline to apply for your Permanent Fund Dividend.

–There is a federal program that helps businesses provide paid sick and family leave to employees. A lot of people were missing work during the outbreak because of quarantine. This provides an option for paying sick leave and businesses can take a tax credit on their payroll taxes to cover the cost of that. This applies to both self-employed and non-profits. More information on this can be found on the borough’s website.

COVID-19 panel discussion highlights Friday, March 5, 2021

State epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin – As of today a total of 92 cases identified in Petersburg since February 15, four COVID-related hospitalizations but no one currently hospitalized. There have been no fatalities associated with these cases.

11 COVID patients are being followed by Home Health and some are on home oxygen. 14 people have received monoclonal antibody treatment.

There are 175 pending tests and two of those are more than three days out. About 26 percent of the population has been tested in the last 14 days.

Test positivity rate is 9.3 percent. They like to see a positivity rate of less than 5 percent, which gives a good indication that they’re enough testing. With a positivity rate closer to 10 percent that probably means there’s probably not enough testing in the community to really get a sense of how widely this is spread and to pick up cases as quickly as possible. The quicker new cases are discovered, the quicker people can be isolated and limit spread in the community. It also means quicker contact tracing to identify their close contacts and quarantine those people.

About one third, if not more, people who wind up getting infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 have no symptoms at all but can still spread the virus to others. The most spreading happens a day or so before people feel symptoms. Peak shedding usually happens about a day before up to about one or two days after symptom onset.

We have had three new positive cases reported yesterday.

We have seen clusters in Petersburg that are associated with locations where people have gathered, including bars and restaurants, schools, day care centers and other businesses. About 44 percent of the cases have been associated with a bar or restaurant. Another 41 percent have been associated with a school or day care. Nearly 10 percent of the total cases have had overlap between the bar/restaurant clusters and the school/day care clusters.

Transmission has been occurring in large and small gatherings, between family members, classmates as well as a variety of public venues.

Encouraging vaccination and testing for COVID-19. We want to test anyone, even with low grade symptoms or if you have had close contact with a positive case.

Public health nurse Erin Michael – Because we are dealing with this outbreak and in level red we are encouraging people not to gather outside of your social bubbles or attending social events. That’s where we’re seeing a lot of transmission and spreading of this infection. Please avoid indoor gatherings altogether right now.

Free asymptomatic testing is available at the airport testing tent 7:30-10 a.m. Monday through Friday. With symptoms call the COVID hotline 772-5788.

Dr. Liz Ohlsen, physician with the Alaska Division of Public Health – small choices have really big effects, avoid gatherings, or have those outside.

Where are we in this outbreak? Does the data give any indication?

Dr. McLaughlin – looking at the epidemic curve found here, and here,

It seems to me we’re still in the thick of it; I’m not seeing any clear indication that the outbreak is on a downward trajectory right now. So that means there’s still a lot of COVID activity. The risk level is quite high for coming into contact with somebody who has COVID. And the tricky thing about this virus is that so many people have either mild symptoms or they’re completely asymptomatic. It makes it so easy for this virus to spread. Keep up with the mitigation strategies, masking, social distancing, washing hands and testing.

Dr. Coleman Cutchins pharmacist and COVID testing coordinator for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services – also highlights the importance of testing. Some people can go as long as 14 days from exposure before testing positive, that’s why it’s important to test 5-7 days after exposure. Another reason to test, there is treatment, monoclonal antibodies that can be administered early on in the infection, given by IV infusion. The treatment is pretty effective in lowering your risk of hospitalization.

What’s the likelihood of a fully vaccinated person spreading the virus?

Dr. McLaughlin – A question we’re all trying to figure out. There is some preliminary data out of Israel that suggests the likelihood appears to be low but we don’t yet know how low.

How about variants, will we know if any of the variants are among the cases in Petersburg or if this is just garden variety COVID?

Dr. Cutchins – with sequencing, to figure out if it’s a variant, it takes a week or two. It has to be sent to the state virology lab in Fairbanks. We are sequencing samples from Petersburg but I’m not aware that we’ve found any variants. We get a lot of people asking, can I find out what kind I had and the answer is no. These tests are basically yes or no, you’re infected or you’re not. They only get sequenced if there’s suspicion it might be a variant.

Dr. Ohlsen – Even normal COVID we have been dealing with for the past year, it is quick, it is tricky. It makes some young, healthy people really, really sick. We do not have a good way of predicting exactly who’s going to get sick and who’s not. Mask wearing gives you a better chance of a less serious case.

Dr. McLaughlin – wearing a mask, you may still get infected, but it lessens the amount of virus you are exposed to and gives your body a better chance of fighting it off. Three variants of concern – from the U.K., B.1.1.7, that’s the variant that has the strongest foothold in the U.S. right now, B.1.351, initially identified in South Africa, has been found in the U.S. but not yet identified in Alaska, and the P.1 variant initially identified in Brazil. We’ve had two cases of the B.1.1.7 in Alaska both in Anchorage and one case of the P.1 also in Anchorage. Haven’t seen any indications that other regions have been affected by these variants. Probably proportionally testing more than most other states, around 20 percent of samples tested for variants in Alaska.

Is there a possibility of a vaccine passport that would ease a fully vaccinated person’s travel or access to public places?

Dr. McLaughlin – there has been discussion on the national and international level. Will have to continue to watch what the CDC recommends on that. No immediate plans for that in Alaska.

Karl Hagerman, incident commander with the emergency operations center – 61 active cases as of this morning, still at red level, high risk status, would echo the messages from public health doctors. Thanks to the businesses that have voluntarily complied with recommendations, bars and restaurants and other businesses that have closed or gone to take out only, it does make a difference.

Will do another risk assessment Monday for the community’s status.

Why the change in reporting with people who are recovered versus people who have been released from isolation?

Hagerman – EOC and public health made that decision together, the EOC was reporting people as recovered if they are no longer infectious. This new term also includes who people may still need treatment but are not longer infectious. We will continue to provide daily updates during the outbreak. Any questions can be sent to

Phil Hofstetter, CEO of the Petersburg Medical Center – vaccine clinic for second doses is going well today, around 400 second doses to be administered today. Here’s a PMC graphic on cases too

Erica Kludt-Painter, superintendent Petersburg School District – little bit of a surprise to us how this outbreak has unfolded and how some of the younger ages have tested positive and been involved in the spread. We have made the decision to continue with remote learning for one more week. Spring break is the following week and we hope to return to in-person learning March 22. Urge people to keep groups small and limit spread so we can return to in-person learning. We’ve been in remote this year very little until now.

Travel policy has remained the same throughout the pandemic. If people do travel they will need to still test and quarantine after travel before returning to the classroom.

The end of the school year hasn’t changed. There may be some opportunities for summer school.

Antigen testing as a screening tool for activities is something we are adding to our protocols as soon as next week to be used weekly with students involved in activities. It’s not the same as a PCR test, a positive result on that would prompt a PCR test. More information on activities at the school board meeting Tuesday.

Question on whether patients who are treated with supplemental oxygen, are those generally people who are higher risk or have pre-existing conditions.

Dr. McLaughlin – Generally people who are at increased risk for more serious COVID, folks who are older and people who have some underlying medical conditions that are high risk condition for COVID, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, liver and kidney disease, put people at higher risk may be treated with supplemental oxygen.

Any cases in Alaska of people infected more that once?

Dr. McLaughlin – Yes we are but they are rare. Those are called repeat infections. We are seeing some, typically in people infected more than three months ago, sometimes it’s a little less than that. In South Africa they are seeing a lot of reinfection with the B.1.351 strain is circulating.

How common is infection in fully vaccinated people?

Dr. McLaughlin – following this very closely in Alaska. We are aware of about just over 40 cases of people in Alaska who have had laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 virus infection (the virus that causes COVID-19) who have been fully vaccinated. Qualify that to make clear it’s difficult to a timeline on the infection, whether its lingering virus from a first infection, or an actual second infection. Majority of those 40 or so cases are asymptomatic. I suspect some of them were infected prior to getting that second dose.

Karl Hagerman – reminder that tonight at 11:59 is the deadline to apply for rent relief through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation or text “relief” to 833-440-0420. There’s new guidance for self-employed individuals for the Paycheck Protection Program. That will allow self-employed individuals to calculate their maximum loan amount using gross income instead of net profit. It’s not retroactive and applies to new applications or applicants where the loan funds have not been disbursed on that. Check with your lender on that.

Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion, Feb. 26, 2021 12:30 p.m.

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

–What a difference a week makes, last week at this time we had three active cases and at this moment we have 53 cases. There are a lot more test results coming in so it’s hard to say where we will end up today.

–My sense is it is a wide reaching outbreak and many people in the community are affected. There is a wide age range with students in the schools being affected and the elderly as well.

–We’ve been asked where it all started and we don’t have that information. The EOC does not have a clear picture of exactly where the origin of the outbreak was and how it spread so quickly. I do know that there are several locations in town that have been impacted.

–We saw six positives yesterday and so far today one case, which is down, so we’re cautiously optimistic that maybe the outbreak is slowing a little bit but only time will tell.

–There is no reason to panic and bulk-shop at the grocery stores. It doesn’t allow for other people to buy what they need. The stores have trouble replenishing shelves if shoppers go in and buy more than you normally would buy. So, we are asking people to buy what you normally would and use the curb-side or delivery options. Both stores are still open for walk-in but please wear face coverings. All of the employees in the stores are wearing face masks at this point.

–We’re focused on reporting out a daily case count number in the evenings between 4-6 p.m. Other information will be updated twice daily in the morning and the end of the day.

–The borough has a Facebook page that has some COVID information on it through announcements and press releases as well as other borough information. The borough does host a website that is dedicated to COVID-19:  COVID-19 Information Hub (

–We do not know if people who are positive for COVID in the outbreak were wearing masks.

–Travelers coming into the community, whether it’s in-state or out-of-state, need to test in one way or another. They can pre-test within three days before coming or they can test for free at the airport. Anyone can test for free at the airport now, residents and non-residents. Signing up on the State of Alaska’s Travel Portal saves time when testing for travel.

State of Alaska Public Health Nurse—RN Erin Michael

— I’m really very pleased that the majority of people that the State of Alaska teams are calling are answering the phone calls and doing the interviews with us. The majority of people we are calling for contact tracing are talking to us and this will help us figure out where the clusters of cases are happening. We really, really appreciate it.

–We are seeing the cases from young kids all the way up to people in their 80s and everywhere in between. It is an equal opportunity disease. It’s every age group.

–A phone call from contract tracers will be an Alaska number. They will identify themselves as being with the State of Alaska Public Health. We might ask the person to confirm your birthday to make sure we’re talking to the right person with that name. We will not be asking for social security numbers, bank information, or any money information. We might ask about possible symptoms. We might ask about someone’s job to see about possible contacts there. We might ask about who the people are that you’ve been around.

–Because our outbreak was so quick, we are really lucky that other parts of the state aren’t as active with outbreaks right now. So, we have several contract tracing teams working with the community and close contacts are being called quickly. If you think you might be a contact, you can always call Public Health in Petersburg 772-4611. If you’re not sure just give us a call. You are not a close contact just seeing someone for a short time but we can help you figure it out.

–I know that the state is testing for variants. They are testing a certain percentage of the tests that go out but I don’t know the details.

–Anyone who is a close contact will be given specific information about their quarantine. It will depend on if they have symptoms and when their last exposure was. If someone does come back positive that will extend their quarantine. They will be given this information verbally over the phone when being interviewed and in a written format. The State of Alaska website has information about it as well.

–If people are fully vaccinated and they do not have any signs or symptoms they do not need to quarantine. However, it’s a good idea to continue with protocols.

–If just one person in a household is a contact, then ideally they would be separated out in the house. Ideally they would have their own bedrooms and own bathrooms. If you are in the same room, wear masks, wipe down services. If people cannot separate out in the household then the household needs to quarantine together. If there are young children or people with special needs the household might have to quarantine together.

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

–We are humming along here. We are just working, working, working. The outbreak seemed to have started last Friday and it went up over last weekend. We separated out our symptomatic and asymptomatic testing. We allocated more staffing for our respiratory clinic for symptomatic testing and allocated some staffing at the airport from 7:30 to 10 a.m. M-F. We are seeing quite a good turnout there so thank you to the community members who are going there to get tested. Testing is very, very important. We want to make sure that we can track the cases and people can quarantine and isolate if needed.

–We are seeing all ages of COVID cases—from babies less than a year old to people up in their 80s. It’s all over the map.

–We have 53 cases, which is a tremendous amount for our small population. Thank you to the State of Alaska for helping us out with contact tracing and with rapid tests. We are using rapid tests for people with symptoms. We send out tests for people without symptoms.

–Over 70 people tested today at the asymptomatic testing tent at the airport and we are routinely seeing 50 to 60 people every day at the symptomatic testing clinic. We will continue this testing effort as needed.

–It is not uncommon to have someone test positive that’s fully vaccinated. The vaccine is for helping keep people out of the hospital; from severe COVID illness. Most of the positive cases are people who have been unvaccinated. We are keeping numbers on people who are vaccinated. Out of the 53 cases, only one person has been fully vaccinated; there are three that were partially vaccinated, who had received just the first dose. The person who was fully vaccinated was not part of this outbreak. They were positive before the outbreak.

–Even if you are vaccinated you should still follow protocols. If you are fully vaccinated and you’ve been around people with COVID, you still need to monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days.

–Be patient with us because it is a huge learning curve for us too.

–The vaccination clinics are still going to happen March 5 and March 12 in the community gym. We’re not going to stop; we are going to ramp up our efforts. Getting people vaccinated is a huge component with getting people back into the schools and into the businesses. That’s our whole goal. We’re also trying to vaccinate within the walls of the clinic, just about 11 people a day. We follow COVID protocols in the clinics. If people have been identified as a close contact we will still give them a vaccine. We will contact them about how it will happen. If you haven’t heard from us through text or phone call, call us at 772-5545 and leave a message. The vaccine might happen through a drive through, we are still working out the details.

–The State is looking for variants. We send our tests to the state lab in Fairbanks and they do sequencing up there. They are seeing variants in the state but we don’t know anything about Petersburg tests yet.

–The reason why people who have been in contact with positive cases have to quarantine after getting a negative test is because a test is a snapshot in time. You can still be infected and not show up as a positive for several days. The CDC recommends 14 days of quarantine but we propose 10 days of quarantine. If you test on day 7 is just to identify if you have COVID (you might still need to quarantine).

–If someone is high risk or has comorbidities like diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity they might need to be hospitalized, no matter what their age is. You could be a 7-year-old and need higher level of care. It’s not the case with COVID that it’s just older people who have complications. Oxygen saturation is a major factor. COVID presents in different ways. In a household of five people they can all have different symptoms.

–There has been one medevac related to this outbreak. Sometimes if folks are sick enough they have to be sent out. We are a critical access hospital. We are doing treatments like anti-virals, steroids, and oxygen. If there is a case that is highly acute they have to be sent out to a tertiary care facility like Seattle or Anchorage.

–SEARHC has been great and I don’t think we are in short supply of vaccines. If you want a vaccine we want to put your name on the waiting list. We want anyone 16 and older on the list because the Pfizer vaccine is approved for those 16 and older. You can get on the list on PMC’s website.

–Thank you to the community for the positive feedback. We’re appreciated and we feel the love and we thank you for that.

–One thing that we are trying to tackle significantly is messaging. There is a lot of information, a lot of misinformation, and a lot of information that we don’t know. We want to make sure that people have the information at their fingertips.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter

–The school district is in distance learning mode. We did have a staff member identified over the last weekend and started going through contacts. We were cautiously optimistic to keep the overall system moving forward so we did have in-person school on Monday. Then there were more cases in town and more connections to the school as the day evolved. Then it became a staffing issue. Hopefully, testing will come back with fewer positive cases and allow us to go back to in-person education. People have been really helpful in this process. It doesn’t help to blame anyone, it just helps to get the information and make phone calls and notify people as soon as we can.

— Multiple classrooms have been impacted, particularly in the elementary school. I think we all were a little more hopeful about sort of the younger kids maybe not being quite as impacted in that sense but the elementary has been hit pretty hard that way. We do have those connections and a few in the secondary schools as well. There are a lot of contact tracing and interviews happening still. We feel like you do. We wish we could change this for the young kids but that’s where a number of classroom quarantines are happening now.

–Meals are available through grab-and-go at a couple of locations for children 18 and under. Families can sign up online. There are surveys on the Facebook pages and on the school district’s website. This meal pick-up will happen Tuesday because a barge is running late.

–Consider this pause right now, for our family, students, staff, whether you’ve gotten the call that you’re on a quarantine list or not. Really just lay low for the next 7, 8, 9 days so we can get our kids back into the buildings. We have worked hard at it and also had a pretty good measure of luck. Many, many schools and many, many districts have been in-person learning very little. We’ve been fortunate and this is a bump in the road. We’re going to get through it and we just want to keep people in our thoughts who are not feeling well.

Petersburg Economic Development Council—Director Liz Cabrera:

–The NOAA Cares Act fisheries assistance announced they will start accepting applications on March 1. Applications can be found at: If people have questions or if you want an application mailed to you, they can call 1-888-517-7262. The deadline to apply is April 23. Applications must be postmarked by that day.

–The Alaska Housing Rent Relief Program is open until March 5.  This is for renters for rent relief and utilities payments for up to 12 months. The website is Alaska Housing or you can call or text the word “relief” to 833-440-0420.

–The SBA has announced some changes to the PPP loans. Starting this week through March 10 they will only be offering PPP loans to small businesses and sole proprietors with less than 20 employees. They also removed some restrictions that are in place.

–For non-profits, the Petersburg Community Foundation has some opened its competitive grant application period. The deadline is March 31. You can get more information online. There are two types of grants: one is the competitive grant and the other is a discretionary grant for COVID related projects or impacts.

–The application period for the PFD is open to the end of March.

–More information can be found on the borough’s website through a link: resources for non-profits, businesses and employees impacted by COVID-19.

KFSK’s SPECIAL COVID-19 Panel Discussion, Feb. 23, 2021 at 12 p.m.

*28 active cases as of noon today, most are symptomatic, numbers keep climbing

*No cases are people who have been fully vaccinated

*40 calls to the hospital’s hotline this morning, most of them are people with symptoms

*Need residents to answer calls from contact tracers and cooperate with them

Special Guest Dr. Anne Zink, State of Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer:

–Covid is tricky. For many people they are asymptomatic of have very mild disease. Many people recover very quickly. But people can get very sick and it can be surprising who gets sick. What we’ve learned again and again in this pandemic is that prevention is key. So, we recommend people to test regularly through testing. We know that asymptomatic testing can be an important way to identify cases early.

–We have tools to fight this pandemic that we’ve never had before including Monoclonal antibodies which can be used for high risk people early on their symptoms before they are hospitalized. Vaccinations also prevent hospitalization and death. But we need communities to engage to get tested, get vaccinated, to wear masks, and to wash their hands.

–Vaccinations are not an outbreak tool because it takes a while (to take effect) but on a community-wide basis, vaccinations clearly help decrease the spread.

–We have international, national, and state example of how vaccinations are helping slow the spread. In the Y-K Delta (in Western Alaska) they have been burdened with a lot of disease. Their vaccination rates have been amazing and we are seeing a plummeting of cases in the region. Early data shows vaccinations not only help you from getting as sick but also decrease your viral load and your ability to transmit it to others.

–We are the most vaccinated state in the country, almost a quarter of our adult population has had at least their first dose. We are anxiously awaiting our March allocation, which we think could be double our February allocation so we think March will be our time to make a huge headway.

–Regarding the adverse reactions to vaccines, there is no mandate to get the vaccine but the two vaccines we have right now, the Pfizer and the Moderna, do a remarkable job of preventing people from getting sick and dying. Their safety profile is quite impressive.

–There are some published reports back from the CDC’s and we get weekly reports from the CDC on the vaccines. There have been no deaths nation-wide associated to the vaccine. There have been some people who have serious adverse reactions and the most common one is anaphylaxis where people develop a rash or have shortness of breath. It is easily treated with epinephrine. We have had two cases in Alaska. Nationally, between 2.5 and 5 people per one million people who get the vaccine have anaphylaxis reactions. That’s a bit more reactions than the flu vaccines but less than other vaccines.

–We anticipate a new vaccine coming in March from Johnson and Johnson, which would be a third option for COVID.

–When you look at the reactions from the COVID vaccines compared to the risk of COVID, they are by far very safe and efficacious vaccines.

–Using the Y-K region as an example, and all the cases that they had, they ended up encouraging everyone who had not tested positive yet, they had them tested twice a week with antigen cards to help identify cases early. This disease can spread quickly.

–As a clinician, I had this patient in his mid-40s and he came in and he was so sick, he couldn’t breathe, we were giving him as much oxygen as we could and his oxygen saturation was still very low in the 70s and I remember him saying to me, “I just thought this was like the flu, I thought this was no bid deal.” He has six kids at home. Seeing a preventable disease being so devastating to such a young and vibrant person, and what that really looks like is heart breaking.

–You have the power to stop this pandemic in your community by not exposing other people. When we test and we isolate, we contact trace, we are able to identify cases early, it has a smaller impact on the community then when it’s wide spread. But these tools are only as good as they’re used.

–Herd immunity in the community is somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of the population being vaccinated. We all have our own little herds, your family herd, your work herd, your school herd. How much those herds are mixing together matters. If you’ve had COVID, we believe you have decent protection against COVID for at least three months after you have recovered. The vaccination gives you longer protection than the virus itself. Another thing, the virus itself has a just a tiny bit of RNA and teaches your body to respond while the virus has a lot of RNA and you’re not really sure how your body is going to respond.

–We’ve seen a few variants. The tests that we use identify these variants well. So far, it looks like the vaccines prevent them too. However, these variants appear to be more contagious and some of them appear to make people sicker.

–Many people feel like they are over COVID, unfortunately COVID is not over with us. We are so close to getting to a better place and this is really the time to rally the community.

Petersburg Medical Center—Chief of Staff Dr. Jennifer Hyer, CEO Phil Hofstetter

–Currently our count is 28 active cases for Petersburg; these are mostly symptomatic people.

–We had two hospitalizations and treated those two patients successfully with IV anti-virals, steroids, supplemental oxygen and other therapies.

–We have had no cases among anyone who is fully vaccinated, which is at least two weeks after their second shot. We have seen cases in individuals who just had their first shot.

–We have had more than 40 calls to the hotline today and most are from people who are symptomatic.

–All COVID testing is free and we are expanding our asymptomatic testing at the airport. Asymptomatic testing is now available at the airport daily between 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. for the next week at least and maybe the next two weeks.

–As for reactions to the vaccines, we rely on the CDC and the state guidance and from the VAERS system related to the vaccine. It’s one of those things that is hard to determine from a local standpoint. We’ve had no anaphylaxis reactions in Petersburg. We’ve had side effects and really robust immune responses that we have reported out. We are following those closely.

Some of the side effects are expected and if they’re not we report it.

–One of the things that has been a real challenge with the cases as they crop up is the contact tracing. We are having a difficult time with contact tracing locally. We are experiencing some resistance to it or non-compliance from people to get tested.

–PMC staff has been working around the clock, many people staying up until midnight many nights and through the nights, taking care of patients, getting ready to test.

–Locally, we have some expanded vaccine sources. We are asking anyone who is 18 and older who want the vaccine to sign up with PMC. It helps us for people to sign up early.

–Identifying people for early treatment of COVID is very important. We have more treatment options now that are excellent. We’ve given the monoclonal antibody to five people so far. We do have more doses and a source for getting more doses.

–As a clinician it is very heart breaking to take care some of our loved elders and this is very preventable.

–One of the things that we said since the beginning is that as soon as we have an outbreak, the hospital is impacted. Our staff are razor thin, you can hear how difficult it is. I’m really disappointed in some of the responses in the community and I want to make sure that we all behave appropriately. This is so easy to prevent by masking and distancing. It always comes back to the hospital having to deal with the situation. It’s very preventable. We are a tight knit community and we should work together respectfully and pull together.

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

–The case numbers keep changing, we are trying to keep up on our press releases. It’s been an uphill battle to keep up with it.

–The community risk level is red. Go to the borough’s website to see details of what the high risk level means and the recommendations for the community. The mitigation measures include strictly adhering to the local masking mandate and keeping six feet of distance between different households. We are also asking for any gatherings to be canceled or avoided because that’s where the virus transfers. The school is in red status now and it is all remote learning this week. It’s unfortunate that the schools had to go to that measure after the success they’ve seen this year having kids in the classroom.

–Travel in and out of Petersburg is not recommended unless it is critical.

–We are asking essential businesses to end walk-in traffic for now and go with curb side business only. The borough’s buildings are closed to the public right now but we’re accepting calls of course. We are asking that non-essential businesses close for the time being until the risk level drops. Again, these are recommendations.

–We haven’t seen the current cases come from any one event or location; its many different locations and groups of people that are being affected. It’s concerning that we can’t pin it down to one source.

–The contact tracers have been working very hard. There is a team from the state that is dedicated to Petersburg and contact tracing here. It is a huge lift for those people right now. Please answer the phone and answer the questions. Contact tracing is so important for us to get a handle on this and get it stopped so we can go back to normal as soon as possible.

Feb. 19, 2021 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–We have been responding to the state’s emergency declaration expiring (which happened last weekend). That’s been a lot of work this week. The state turned their orders into advisories. We had to do a quick review of our existing mandates and our goal is to continue with the same level of protection we’ve had the last few months. We updated a few mandates that refer to the state’s declaration. The face coverings mandate and the in-person participation at public meetings mandate are not affected and continue as is. We’ve had to update the harbor mandate, the mandate requiring businesses to submit mitigation plans to the borough for critical infrastructure work–it’s been a good mandate so far. The directive regarding the non-congregate sheltering program, which is still important if there are homeless or first responders who might need a place to shelter or isolate in case they become positive. It’s a pretty low cost to us. Also, we updated the travel mandate about testing in-state and out-of-state travelers coming to town. We’ve caught quite a few positives at the airport and they are asymptomatic. If left unknown, they could circulate in the community and create a larger problem. The goal of EOC is to continue with the protections in place. The assembly will take up these mandates at a special meeting on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

–The EOC does not think it was the right timing for the state to end the emergency declaration. It was a political end of the pandemic but the medical end hasn’t arrived yet.

–Testing at the airport is optional this week and participation has dropped off.

–The airport testing is funded by the state through the Cares Act and FEMA through June.

–Hopefully by late spring or summer we will have in-person participation in public meetings depending on vaccinations level.

–Federal law requires masking for public transportation and masking is required on commercial fishing vessels. We don’t know how realistic that detail will be for fishermen.

–There are three active cases in Petersburg currently.

–Petersburg is doing a great job with vaccinations. Thanks to the hospital and Public Health for sorting that out and making it run smoothly.

Erin Michael, State of Alaska Public Health Nurse:

–We are continuing on with our interviews with positive cases and close contacts throughout the state. Across the state cases have gone down but we still see clusters of cases in places where people are gathered like seafood processors and mine workers.

–It’s still important that people continue to try to keep our risk as low as possible. That includes staying at home or getting tested if they have symptoms. Also, taking asymptomatic tests that are available. Covid can affect people differently so some people don’t know they have it.

–Contact tracing efforts have not changed at the state level even though the emergency declaration has lapsed.

–It’s important that people answer the phone when we contact tracers call because it gives us a way to track the virus.

–Get on the waiting list for vaccines if you are 18 and older. Vaccines are going to be our best bet to get out of this quicker.

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

–Our second dose clinic will be held March 5.

–Fishermen should give Liz a call if they are scheduled for a vaccination and they are heading out on the fishing grounds on March 5. They could get rescheduled for March 3.

–Because SEARHC has shared their allocation, almost anyone who wants to get a vaccine can get one now in Petersburg.

–Another first dose clinic will be held on March 11.

–Close to 50 percent of people in Petersburg who are 18 and older have been vaccinated.

–Please call PMC to get on the waiting list for a vaccine at 772-5545. You can also call that number to check and see if you are on the waiting list. Leave a message and they will return your call.

–Right now we have about 150 on the waiting list.

–We are hoping that the single dose vaccine from Johnson and Johnson will come on board by the end of the month.

–The purpose of vaccinations are to prevent serious infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. It has proven to prevent these.

–To schedule asymptomatic testing, call 772-4299.

–If you have symptoms, call the COVID hotline, call 772-5788. Especially in children, in rare cases, some children have had COVID complications that didn’t show up for three or four weeks. With positive test results, doctors will know how to treat those.

–The expiration of the state’s declaration has been a little chaotic and it has caused some confusion. We’re trying to maintain the best we can with what we have.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter

–Basketball games were canceled this weekend for bad weather. Maybe there can be a game with Wrangell or a blue and white scrimmage this week instead.

–The school district travel policy will continue because it is the recommendation from the state. We want to keep everything consistent. It will help keep cases out of the schools and the schools open.

–The testing is really important with school activities as well. There is a lot more talk about testing before allowing any activities. This would be the case for any regional activities in the future.

–Our low case numbers are allowing us to have some activities. There are some communities that have high case numbers and they can’t travel or participate in activities.

–A lot of staff have received vaccinations or are on the list for a vaccination.

–Recommendations right now are to continue the protocols that we have in place. Next year might look similar for some grades with smaller class sizes and distancing and other mitigation efforts. They are telling us to plan for that. It might depend on vaccination rates however there aren’t vaccinations approved for children yet.

Petersburg Economic Development Council–Liz Cabrera:

–The Alaska Housing Rent Relief program is open for applications until March 5. They’ve already received over 12,000 applications. There is a substantial amount of funding available so people should check this out if they need help with rent or utilities. Assistance can be up to 12 months and it can be retroactive for past relief. Website: or text the word “relief” to 833-440-0420.

–The IRS announced that they have sent out all of their Economic Impact Relief payments and they will not be issuing anymore. If you didn’t receive it, you can still claim it on your taxes. And go to and there is a worksheet there to find out how much you can claim.

–As part of the recent COVID bill, the IRS rules on how low and moderate income workers can apply for an earned income credit or a child tax credit has changed. Some people have been on unemployment, especially seasonal workers. In order to apply for these credits, you have to have income from a job, so here you can use your 2019 or 2020 income to figure out your credit amount and use the one that is bigger.

Feb. 12, 2021 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

Phil Hofstetter and Jennifer Bryner with the Petersburg Medical Center – PMC had another COVID-19 vaccination clinic Thursday, February 11. Second doses were given out to those 65 and older who had received a shot last month. There were 50 first doses administered as well.

Now 1169 in the community have received at least a first dose. As of the February 11 clinic, 570 people now have received a second dose (just shy of 24 percent of the adult population).

36.5 percent of the total population of Petersburg have received at least one dose. Just looking at the adult population (15 and up) Petersburg is now at 49 percent with at least one dose.

The state has opened to a new tier of eligibility for the vaccine

PMC encourages anyone who is interested in getting vaccination to sign up for the waiting list through or by calling 772-5545.

Testing turnaround time continues to be good for both labs were tests are sent from Petersburg.

Question on whether there are studies on the vaccine’s effect on people with an autoimmune disease or a compromise immune system. Answer – People with a compromised immune system are encouraged to get the vaccine, but those people should remember they may be more at risk for getting COVID-19 and should still be very careful and continue hand washing, masking and social distancing.

Question on how long you are protected once you’ve received the second shot. Answer – Full protection doesn’t occur until two weeks after a second shot. No word yet on how long the protection lasts. The current CDC quarantine guidance is that you should have had a second dose within the last three months to avoid quarantine after possible exposure to COVID.

PMC’s Infection Prevention/ Quality Manager Liz Bacom – The importance of vaccination is to keep people from getting seriously ill or hospitalized; it’s not expected to keep people from getting it entirely. Like the flu shot the COVID vaccination could lessen the more serious illness from the disease. COVID cases are being reported among vaccinated populations including at Wildflower Court nursing home in Juneau, although those cases are reportedly not serious.

PMC has scheduled more vaccination clinics for March 5 and then March 12. They don’t yet know the allocation from the state for that month for first doses.

As of last week there are about 117 people on the vaccine waiting list who have not yet received even a first dose.

Petersburg school superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter – Eligibility opened to all teachers for the vaccine. Some staff members have already received a first dose and some a second dose. No changes planned on travel testing/quarantine requirements at this point, moving forward with the same mitigation plan. Basketball teams playing on Prince of Wales Island and hosting POW teams.

Liz Cabrera, Petersburg borough – Highlighting the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation rent relief program

It’s available to Alaskans for rent and utility relief for up to 12 months. Applications open February 16, 2021 and closes March 5, 2021. Check eligibility online. You will need an email address and a cell phone that can receive texts for validation code.

Income limit for Petersburg is $63,920 total per household. It can also cover a rental payment you owe from prior months.

So just to review any household that rents in Petersburg and makes less than $63,920 a year could be eligible for relief payments for that rent and/or utilities for up to a year’s payments, including rent that’s past due. If you rent you should be applying for this money.

Question – what happens for PMC if the state’s disaster declaration is not renewed? Answer –

The medical center relies on federal waivers that the declaration allows for telemedicine and other services during the pandemic. PMC would be concerned with vaccine allocations at the state level. Locally everything may become a recommendation rather than a mandate, but more on that from the Emergency Operations Center at a later date.

Question – Do you lose the ability to vaccinate people or test? Answer – There’s a lot of uncertainty about what it means. We may lose the ability for federal emergency funds for setting up vaccination pods, or anything related to COVID.

Feb. 5, 2021 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–We do have a couple of active cases of COVID-19, which is disappointing because we like to see it at zero. However, both cases are isolating and pose a low risk to the community.

–Testing is still a big part of the COVID-19 response. The hospital is doing a great job supporting that. The asymptomatic testing available is very helpful to the community. There is a lot of testing going on.

–The EOC recommends to the borough assembly to extend the masking mandate. We are not out the woods yet even though Petersburg has had relatively low case counts. It’s part of protecting everyone. It’s been very productive to have our businesses open and our kids in the schools and masking is a big part of that. Even if you’ve had the vaccination, you still need to mask because, although you won’t get sick anymore, you could still pass the virus along to others. Scientists don’t know enough about those transmission details yet.

–The EOC recommends that the state extend its disaster declaration. Petersburg’s airport testing and screening rely on the declaration (it’s a contract between the state and the borough) and that program protects our community quite a bit.

–The EOC is asking cruise companies for a copy of their mitigation programs. Most cruise lines have a mitigation program of how they will prevent the spread of the virus. We’ve received one from America Cruise Lines. Some cruise lines are requiring 100 percent vaccinations for both passengers and staff on board.

–The Alaska Housing Rent Relief program will open on February 16 with $200 million. It’s for any household that is having trouble paying for rent and/or utilities. There is an online eligibility check.

–PIA also has a rent and utilities relief program for households with tribal members. The deadline is February 22. You can get applications from the PIA office or online at

–The EOC put out a Code Red message last week about the vaccination clinic and how people can sign up. We have heard quite a bit of feedback and there was some concern that the Code Red system shouldn’t be used for that. When you announce it as a Code Red message people sit up and listen, which is what we wanted, but we didn’t want it to cause anxiety. The program is called Code Red but for EOC, we also use it as a communication system. People can adjust their individual settings so they will only receive emergency messages and not other general communication. A number of people did sign up for vaccines after hearing the code red message. However, apologies for any stress it might have caused. In the future we will say up front if it is an emergency or not so that people know right away.

Petersburg School District Superintendent–Erica Kludt-Painter:

–Basketball games are at home this weekend against Metlakatla with pretty strict protocols in place. This is the first away trip for Metlakatla so we are trying to be very vigilant, we want them to feel comfortable. They are flying in on Alaska Airlines. We can’t have a full gym but the games will be live-streamed. We encourage people to sign up and watch the games that way. We are limited to 80 people in the gym. Each player has two tickets that they can give out to parents or other family members.

–The school district is starting to plan calendars and budgets for next year. This is the time of year that we start to look towards the future and the next year. There is still a lot up in the air with budgets. We’re thinking about class sizes and staffing. We will be putting out a survey to families in the next week or so about how they are feeling about school so we can plan for enrollment next year and how much staffing we’ll need.

–Several staff members who want vaccines are getting their vaccines in the clinic today and others will be getting their second doses soon.

Petersburg Medical Center—CEO Phil Hofstetter

–Vaccination clinic is occurring right now and most of the team is up there (at the community gym) working hard. It’s going smooth like last time.

–You can still sign up for a vaccine for future clinics by getting on the wait list by calling 772-5545 or signing up online at

–We’re watching SB 56 on the state’s emergency declaration. That will have a big impact on us as a medical facility if it doesn’t get renewed.

–Testing turn-around times continue to be short. We are doing well on our rapid PCR tests that are on site. We are loosening those guidelines up a little more. We are receiving another rapid test unit that will be set up in the next month or so.

Jan. 29, 2021 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–The community is still in a low risk category, we’re in a yellow status. There are 0 active cases in Petersburg right now, no new positive cases in the last week, and we’re pretty happy about that. Things could change tomorrow but we want to thank everyone for doing their part.

–The EOC is in full support of PMC’s efforts to get vaccines into Petersburg, trying to get the public up to the level where we have some real herd immunity, we’re not there yet.

–There has been some recent discussion with the police department on enforcement of the masking mandate. I do believe there is going to be a reinvigoration of educational efforts, a renewed focus on the masking effort. It will be more on education than enforcement. It is important that we protect each other and masking is a big part of that.

–The borough’s masking mandate and the cruise ship docking/harbor access mandate will be up for reconsideration by assembly at some point. The harbor access mandate expires at the end of February. Those will need to be discussed at the assembly level in order to extend them. We are discussing smaller cruise ships coming to Petersburg, they are already looking to visit here so if we can do that safely, it could benefit Petersburg, but we’re not quite out of the woods in this pandemic.

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

—-642 vaccinations (people who have had one or both doses)

–We continue to go forward with our vaccination effort. We will have our next community-wide vaccination clinic next Friday, February 5at the community gym. We have been allocated 150 doses from the state for the month of February. We have additional doses from SEARHC so we encourage SEARHC beneficiaries to sign up for the vaccine. You can sign up online at PMC’s website The number to call in to get on the vaccine list 772-5545. We are still focusing on people 65 and older, we have reached out to everyone 65 and older that we know of. If you haven’t heard from us, please call us. We are looking to vaccinate people with chronic health issues, people who are critical infrastructure if you’re over 50, fisheries workers, including people from different households working in the same spaces together. We want to protect you from Covid. Others should still get on the vaccine waiting list, this is the time to sign up.

–In total, we should have at least 400 vaccines for the Feb. 5 clinic and potentially more. We really want to get people on the vaccine waiting list so we know who to call.

–People who have any symptoms should still call the COVID hotline right away so you can be tested. That is how we keep the virus from spreading by identifying someone positive. The COVID hotline is 772-5788.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter

–The school district is still at the green status level with in-person learning. We are very pleased about that as usual.

–The boys’ basketball team is heading out to Wrangell this weekend to play games there with COVID precautions in place. The kids are pretty excited.

–Teams that travel out or come here, there are some pretty specific plan. They are not supposed to be out roaming around town. The kids aren’t too worried about it, they just want to play.

–About band this year: Our primary focus this year has been about protection of students and staff, that’s the priority. It’s an evolutionary process, we have made adjustments as it goes along and we learn. In band class, it has been evolving as the year goes along. Part of the discussion has been providing aerosol protection for the band students. They do have bell covers, it’s been a process in working with other schools and getting guidance from professionals, both medical professionals those doing it at the college level. We have recently received specialized instrumental face masks as well as ones for choir although we don’t have choir this year. The masks have flaps that overlap each other so you can easily play and the flap goes back down. It’s a functional mask. We have them for jazz band and middle school band. They also have the typical procedures of wiping down things in the band room similar to what happens in other classrooms. There are a lot of schools who don’t have band class now and we feel very fortunate.

–Middle School continues with their activities, like Native Youth Olympics and Esports. We’ve been trying to bring in NYO for several years. Kids are kind of slowing down and are willing to try something different this year. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s impressive.

–Recent information from the CDC has come out about what’s happening in schools and the transmission rates. The research is showing that its working, the mitigation efforts and strategies are working. If we just keep going that way, the schools can stay open. We feel really fortunate and we appreciate all the work that students, staff, and families are doing.

–Anytime anybody has questions about what’s happening at the schools or school district they can always call or email anyone of the administrators or me (the superintendent). We can schedule a time to meet, we are here if people have questions.

Jan. 22, 2021 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–There are 0 cases in Petersburg now; no new cases the last seven days.

–There has been one inpatient hospitalization from COVID at the Petersburg Medical Center.

–567 vaccinations (first only or both doses)

–We’re doing well. The EOC still has many free cloth masks from the state to distribute locally if needed.

–The intra state and out of state testing at the airport is still in place. We’re still seeing people visiting Petersburg who do not know about the mandates so please share that information with them. They can find it all online.

Special Guest: Dr. Liz Ohlsen, Staff Physician with Alaska’s Division of Public Health –Alaska’s Vaccine Team

–There are not enough vaccines to go around right now for the people that want them. Alaska is doing better than other states with the amount of vaccines we have. Petersburg is doing a tremendous effort getting the vaccine to the most people.

–The vaccine side effects are more common with the second dose. There are three categories of side effects:

1) Expected side effects are a sign of building immunity. They include localized pain, chills, headaches, fatigue. These typically happen on the first day and go away by day two or three. You can take Tylenol after the shot if it happens. These side effects are more common in healthy, young people but if you don’t have side effects it doesn’t mean that the vaccine is not working.

2) Feeling faint. This happens rarely. It can happen when people are stressed. People feel light headed and need to sit down for a few minutes. We are encouraging people to drink water and eat a snack before the vaccine and also sit down afterwards to see how you feel.

3) Allergic reaction. Serious reactions are rare happening in 11 per Billion vaccinations. The most common kind of allergic reaction is an itchy rash in the area of the vaccine, which gets better with time. The CDC reviews every report.

–We’re really, really glad that people in Alaska are getting vaccinated.

–The second dose of the vaccine is important. Both doses are the exact same thing but the first time your immune system gets a good look at it and stores the information in the short term memory. The second vaccine gives your immune system the chance to make long term memory antibodies. The long term memory for the virus is going to come from that second dose.

–Still trying to figure out how much this vaccine protects us from transmission. We think it is highly effective at protecting the person who got the vaccine. We don’t know how much it prevents the person from being an asymptomatic carrier. We think it helps but we don’t know how much. It is being studied. So, right now, we are asking everyone to continue with COVID protocols after receiving both COVID vaccines. So, still wear masks, social distance, and continue with other travel protocols.

–We know that the vaccines work very well if you get them at the recommended spacing because we have studied it in tens of thousands of people. People should get the vaccines following the appropriate schedule. If some emergency comes up, just get the second vaccine as soon as possible. A week or two late probably won’t matter but months later could affect the effectiveness.

–We could be seeing another vaccine by the end of March or in April.

Erin Michael, Public Health Nurse:

–Thank you for our community for keeping cases down

–All the things that we do to keep our bodies in general will also help with COVID: adequate sleep, good nutrition, hand washing, proper cough etiquette, social distancing (during Pandemic).

–There are new studies and recommendations for people who are riding in cars with others who are not part of their bubble. You can see this study online under science advances. It shows the science of how best not transmit viruses and germs through the air. People should wear masks in cars if you are with people who are not in your bubble. The driver is on one side and the passenger is in the back seat on the opposite side.  Keep windows cracked open on the non-driver side in the front and then the opposite side in the back.

–Getting caught up on contact tracing in Alaska because cases have plateaued.

–According to health providers around the state, cases of flu and colds have been much less this year because people are following COVID protocols

Petersburg Medical Center—Infection Prevention Manager Liz Bacom, CEO Phil Hofstetter, Nurse Manager Jennifer Bryner, Helen Boggs, Long Term Care

–There has been one hospitalization at PMC of a local COVID patient. There are no hospitalizations currently. We can’t go into detail on that.

–Asymptomatic testing is expanding to not only the school district but at the Mountain View Manor and for community members.

–The state will be notifying PMC next week on February’s allocation of vaccines. We are planning for another vaccine clinic on Friday, February 5th.

–If you are interesting in getting a vaccine and you are not in the first Tiers, go ahead and put your name on the list anyway and we will work through the list. Sign up for a vaccine online at If you are not online, call 772-5545 to get on the list. Now is the time to sign up.

–Residents at Long Term Care are able to visit their family members in the remodeled community van. (In the summer they could visit outdoors when the weather was nice.) The van is not ideal but it is a dry, warm place. There are no visiting changes after residents have gotten their second doses of vaccines. We really hope that changes but we have to follow federal and state guidelines. We are trying to see that residents visit their family as often as they like through phone calls, online video chats, and visits in person in the van. I’m really proud of our residents and all our staff. It’s been a tough year and everyone is rallying together to make sure our residents are as happy as could be.

–We have not seen any of the new strains or variants of the COVID virus in Alaska. Health care providers are testing for it as it is spread out across the Lower 48. It is on the West Coast in California and Oregon but not in Washington yet. We don’t know a whole lot about it.

– is the website to get more information about the vaccine.

Petersburg Economic Development Council–Liz Cabrera:

–Correction: SBA released guidance on the second round of PPP. There are limited conditions where you can go back and increase the loan amount from the first round. You can’t add crew members.

–SBA has released a new loan forgiveness application for people who are still working on that. Loans that are less than $50,000. The form is a lot shorter than other forms.

–CDC has extended the moratorium on residential evictions through March 31 at least. That applies to any property leased for residential purposes.

–There is tax information on the borough’s website and how the government is looking at the relief programs like the PPP loans.

–Individuals who did not receive both amounts of economic impact payments. You can claim that payment on your 2020 tax form. It’s called a recovery rebate credit.

–The applications are still not available for the NOAA fisheries program yet.

–This information and forms for economic relief can be found on the borough’s website and the COVID HUB online.

Questions/Calls from the Public:

Q: Dana Thynes: Question for Superintendent–Are students wearing masks with holes in them while playing in band?

A: KFSK—Superintendent is not on the show today but we will ask later.

Q: Britni Caulum: Why didn’t we hear more about the vaccine injury in Petersburg? Has there been a vaccine injury in town?

A: Jennifer Bryner: If people have a reaction, we can’t talk about it. We can talk about allergic reactions in general but not individual cases. HIPAA is very important to us. If we have verification of people who have had confirmed adverse events then we can talk about what that could look like but we can’t talk about any individual experience. I can give my own personal experience but I can’t talk about anybody else’s vaccine experience.

Q: Is there a sign up wait list for the next vaccine?

A: Yes, you can sign up either at PMC’s website or the borough’s website to get on the waiting list. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can all 772-5545.

Jan. 15, 2021 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–10 active cases; 7,651 total tests for Petersburg; 13.8 percent of the population of the population has been tested in the last two weeks.

–Petersburg has reduced the local risk level this week back down to yellow. The virus is here and likely circulating but the cases we that we are seeing are clusters within the same households and people who are being careful about quarantining. We consider our community status every day.

–PMC and Public Health did an excellent job with the vaccination pod on Thursday. It was an efficient and well run event. Thank you to all the volunteers—the school district, Parks and Rec Department and all the volunteers that made that happen.

–People who are vaccinated still must follow the masking mandate and social distancing from others outside of their households. The vaccine will help the person from getting the virus but that person could still spread it, we don’t know about that yet.

Erin Michael, Public Health Nurse:

–I’m very thankful for all of the people who are getting the vaccine. The further up we can get on the percent of people in the community getting vaccinations the closer we can get back to normal.

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

-The vaccination clinic went off very well yesterday. People were on time to receive their vaccines and there was no wait time. We vaccinated about 350 people. We had tons of volunteers and staff, we couldn’t have asked for a better day, the mood was very positive. This 350 people is in addition to about 200 people who had already gotten their shots.

–Longer Term Care unit has a 100 percent vaccination rate for the residents and everyone resident at Mountain View Manor who has wanted the vaccine has received it.

–Vaccines are completely free.

–We might be able to have one smaller clinic before the end of the month. Waiting to hear what our February vaccine allocation will be.

–PMC is still working through the 65 and older Tier group. We were able to get only the people who were on the waiting list vaccinated. We are trying to reach other people who are 65 and older who might not have signed up for it yet and who want to get it.

–SEARHC sent PMC 30 doses with a list of people to be vaccinated. All of those doses have been used.
–We expect people to feel a little bit more reaction after the second dose. People’s immune systems will recognize the vaccine more after the second dose and their body will be attacking it more efficiently. Jennifer Bryner–Personally, after the first dose I had a sore arm. After the second dose, I had a sore arm, slightly achy, and sensitive skin until the following day and then I felt back to normal. Although those reactions are not pleasant to go through it is a good sign that your body is revving up your immune system.

–Vaccinations decreases the risk for hospitalizations.

–To check and see if you are on the waiting list for a vaccination, you can call Liz at 772-4291 Ext. 5732. Leave a message and they will return your call.

–The U.S. Coast Guard was really helpful in escorting people in and out of the vaccine clinic.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter

–We are still in our green school with in-person learning as of Monday.

–We continue to work with hospital staff and EOC.

–The top goal is safety and reaction accordingly, not overly or under reacting.

–Basketball practice started this week in a yellow model, which means reduced numbers and spaced out for this first week. The kids are enjoying being in the gym.

–Thank you to PMC for making testing available to staff in the school district.

Petersburg Economic Development Council–Liz Cabrera:

–The main thing to know for business owners, the second round for PPP is opening today for small community banks. For all banks it’s opening on Tuesday, January 19. That’s for first time and second time borrowers. All of Petersburg’s banks are participating in round 2 of the PPP program. SBA released guidance on how to reapply or request an increase on your first loan–there is a narrow set of circumstances in which that could happen.

–The State of Alaska announced that people receiving unemployment benefit, that $300 increase began the week ending January 2 and will end the week ending March 14. For other recipients the state is still waiting on guidance on how they are going to implement the latest COVID relief legislation.

–The IRS announced that it is delaying the start of the tax filing season until February 12 because they need more time. At this point, the deadline is still April 15.

–For the first $50 million in CARES ACT funding for the fishing industry, the Alaska applications for fishermen are not yet available.

–Thank you to all the local banks, especially First Bank, who are really swamped right now with the PPP program and helping to people to navigate that.

–This information and forms for relief can be found on the borough’s website and the COVID HUG online.

Questions/Calls from the Public:

Q: For people getting vaccinated is there any change in travel and quarantine requirements for people returning to Petersburg?

A: Karl Hagerman—For anyone who has received both doses and are traveling, they still must follow all of the protocols around travel. At this time there is not enough data about them spreading the virus to others. It’s still unknown if that person can still spread the virus so they still must follow quarantines.

Q: Britni Caulum—Are you are educating people on the risks of the vaccine especially those who are more susceptible to reactions? What is the course of action if someone has an adverse reaction?

A: Jennifer Bryner–We provide all the information to each person before they are vaccinated so they are being educated. We screen people for precautions to the vaccine. Of course if someone were to have an immediate problem, most notably, anaphylaxis, then we have a protocol and supplies ready to go. We have epinephrine available, benadryl, pepcid, IV, we would give them supportive care just like anyone who would be going through anaphylactic We have had no one who has had any cases of anaphylaxis but we have definitely had multiple people who have experienced some expected side effects–tiredness, muscle aches, headache, joint aches, fever—as they are mounting their immune response to the vaccine.

Q: How can you help or compensate those who experienced an injury from the vaccination?

A:  Phil Hofstetter—Serious reactions fall under CDC’s guidance of Emergency Use Authorization Vaccine. We work very, very closely with the State; this is not an independent PMC distribution situation. We have partners at the state level with State Epidemiology and Public Health.

A:  Erin Michael—CDC has the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) that’s been around for a while and it tracks unusual reaction to vaccines, not just COVID vaccines. A provider or a patient can fill it out and you provide information about what happened that was not considered to be a normal reaction. (You would not expect someone to have difficulty breathing, for example.) The state would work with the provider and patient. You can have different health issues normally running through a population that can affect people and it’s hard to tell right away if it was the vaccine or not. It’s important to let the scientists have the time to figure it out.

Comment–Brian Lynch—The vaccination of the clinic was done really well on Thursday, thank you. It was extremely well done and very efficient.

Comment–John Havrilek—the clinic process yesterday was so smooth and easy. After 24 hours I can’t even tell that I even got a shot. No side effects of any kind. Thank you to Liz and everyone who worked so hard on this.

Q: Is there any cost to the vaccine?

A: Jennifer Bryner—no, it is free.

Q: Will there be enough vaccines for everyone who had the first dose to get a second dose?

A: Jennifer Bryner—The state feels very confident that there will. (I talked with them today) The schedule depends on the type of vaccine people get, the Moderna vaccine is 28 days apart and the Pfizer is 21 days apart.

Q: Dana Thynes—Is the clinic going to be reporting an adverse reactions?

A: Jennifer Bryner—PMC has reported all adverse reactions to the vaccine. There is an app (Vsafe) for people’s smart phones that checks in with people every day about how they are doing afterwards. A large percentage of people in Petersburg have signed up for that.

Comment–Mel Stockton—The job that was done by PMC yesterday was positively fantastic. Everything was done in a professional way by smiling faces who were leading seniors like me through something that we haven’t been through before. It was an enjoyable situation. The shot was totally painless.

Jan. 8, 2021 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

Special Guest: Dr. Liz Ohlsen, Staff Physician with Alaska’s Division of Public Health –Alaska’s Vaccine Team

–Most people have pretty good immunity for COVID-19 by about one week after their second dose of the vaccine. Full immunity or the top immunity you can get comes at two weeks after the second dose. That goes for both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. They are very similar vaccines.

–We are starting with Phase 1B next week, which is a much broader category than the first round of vaccines (Tier 1). (Phase 1A was mostly healthcare workers and those living in nursing homes). Phase 1B is a much broader category. Within Phase 1B there are four tiers. The first tier of 1B are Alaskans 65 and older. As we go down the tiers we start taking into account your age, your health, and your job. So, the second tier of 1B are those 50 and older who are critical infrastructure workers that requires them to work closely to others. The third tier are people who are younger than 50, have critical infrastructure jobs and who have two or more of the high risk health conditions. The fourth tier are those who have critical infrastructure jobs who might not have health risks.

–How fast the general population will get vaccines depends on how many vaccines Alaska gets. It also depends on if there are more vaccines coming on line. Some of them that are in the pipeline can be sent out much quicker than Moderna and Pfizer. It also depends on how many people want the vaccines in the higher tiers. So far, we are seeing a high percentage of people wanting the vaccines in the first roll out.

–What we’ve seen in Alaska so far from the vaccines: The vaccines we are using–the MRNA vaccines–have been tested in tens of thousands of people each, both the Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines. Both of them have very good safety profiles. Allergic reactions to the vaccines has been happening in about 11 in one million so that is a very, very low rate of allergic reaction. It just so happens that the first one in the country happened in Juneau, Alaska. Healthcare workers in Alaska have done a wonderful job reporting reactions.

–There are three categories of side effects. One is very rare, which is a serious allergic reaction. It’s the reaction that happened to the person in Juneau. That’s why we have you wait 15-30 minutes after you get the vaccine so we can treat them right away. There have been 21 people within the United States (as of Jan. 7) who have had allergic responses and all of them were treated right away and have recovered. The other two side effects are immune responses and it happens often when young healthy people get the vaccine. It’s not a bad thing, it’s not technically an adverse response, and it’s what we expect your immune system to do. As your immune system recognizes the vaccine and builds an immune response, there could be pain where they got the shot, they might have chills or other mild symptoms. It can last a day or two. It happens in about 10 or 20 percent of the younger population, particularly in young, healthy people. Some people can also feel faint or dizzy afterwards (as with other vaccines). It goes away quickly but that’s why we want people to stay seated right afterwards. It’s also a good idea to have a little food and liquids before the vaccine. If you don’t have this side effect, it doesn’t mean that the vaccine didn’t work. It’s okay to take Tylenol for pain.

–People cannot get the virus from the vaccine. There is no virus in any of the vaccines. It’s just salt, sugar, a fat bubble (that the MRNA lives in), and then MRNA. MRNA isn’t a virus, it’s a blueprint for a protein from the outside of a virus. So really what they do is they go into your cell and your cell uses the blueprint to build its own spike proteins and the immune system takes a look at them, remembers them, and stores that information for later use to respond in the future. The blueprints are pretty fragile and only last hours to days so there’s not much that’s actually hanging around in the body for long.

– is the best place online to get information on vaccinations and the state’s logistics. There are links for information there as well. The CDC and FDA are also good websites to get reliable, accurate information about the vaccinations.

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

–We are at an elevated, moderate risk level after a surge of cases last weekend in Petersburg. We had 10 cases in one week (which included one resident who was out of state). We haven’t seen any new cases. Right now, we have eight active cases and hopefully we will be convening a meeting on Monday to reassess the situation and if we don’t see any new cases and see recovered individuals, hopefully we will be able to go back down to yellow.

–Borough employees, EMS were given the opportunity to be vaccinated already. Other borough employees are on PMC’s waiting list to get the vaccine.

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

• 6,013 total COVID tests completed at PMC
• 123 pending, 20 of those are between 4-6 days old and the rest are still maintaining a 0-3 day window.

–We’re dealing with a community outbreak and spread. The hospital is in the red status for the week. It’s been a long week. Lots of testing and vaccinating going on. The PMC team has done a great job. [PMC dropped its risk level to yellow/medium on Monday, Jan. 11]

–The best way to get on PMC’s waiting list is to go online to PMC’s website or the borough’s website. There is a link there. If you don’t do computers, call the clinic and get on the list that way. We will start to call people 65 and over next week to get them vaccinated. There will be confirmations going out to people who have signed up on the list.
–We are ordering all the vaccines we can get from the state. We had 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine. We also had 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine that was allocated for Tier 3 that was more than was needed. We are confident that we will have at least 300 doses to provide for those 65 and over group starting this Thursday.

–We have almost completed our second doses for our first round of people.

–At this point, about 6 percent of the population has had the first round of vaccines.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter

–We started back up this week, on Wednesday, after a two week holiday vacation. We had teacher in service for teachers and staff on Monday and Tuesday. We went to remote learning for three days. It’s been pretty smooth. We are talking to medical staff and all the testing is still lout. We are hoping to make a decision by the end of the day and barring any spike in cases. It’s pretty likely that are elementary students will be back. That’s our goal

–Parents should look for texts and emails out today for what next week will look like.

–Basketball is set to start this Monday. We will have lots of protocols in place, according to state guidelines.

–The school district staff is coming up soon on the vaccination. We have a large number of staff who want the vaccinations and are on the list for the vaccine.

–There are no vaccines slated yet for children under the age of 16.

Liz Cabrera

–A $900 Billion Covid relief bill was signed in December. There is a lot in there. There is a renewal of the PPP, the paycheck protection program. It will open first for first time borrowers, probably next week. Certain types of businesses, like hotels and restaurants can get larger loans. The program is extended through March.

–For Fisheries related businesses, the rules changed on how fishermen can address crew members. They changed it so they could address crew as employees but that happened later in the program. Through this bill there is an opportunity to go back and adjust

–The relief bill also added $300 million to NOAA’s relief. The first part of the program hasn’t been released yet.

–Rent relief program is being run through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation

–New series of direct economic impact payments to individuals–$600 for adults. They should be going into direct deposit accounts and into mail boxes this week. They are also mailing debit cards like they did last time. You can check the status of that program through the website. There is a get my payment tool, which has been updated.

–Extended unemployment benefits for several weeks. It’s increasing SNAP benefits for food assistance.

–There are a lot of tax provisions that have been extended in the bill.

–The seafood trade relief program through the USDA is coming to an end January 15. There is a lot of money left in that program but the deadline is nearing. You can go to for more information.

–Check the borough’s Covid Hub website for more information on economic relief programs.

Questions/Calls from the Public:

Q: Karin McCullough–How do we get on the waiting list for the vaccine?

A: PMC’s Jennifer Bryner—the very best way is to go to PMC’s website or the borough’s website and sign up there. If you don’t have a computer then call the clinic to get on the list. There will be emails going out to people who have signed up. Don’t worry yet if you haven’t gotten an email yet.

COVID-19 panel show highlights for Friday, December 18, 2020

Karl Hagerman, incident commander Petersburg emergency operations center –

The draft community risk communication plan is still out for review, not up for approval this Monday by the borough assembly. It’s available on the borough’s website, feedback welcomed. Businesses have submitted plans for COVID safe Julebukking and other holiday events.

Erin Michael, public health nurse –

They are still very busy with contact tracing efforts. Case numbers in Alaska have been high although they’re starting to drop. She encourages people to be patient with the vaccine roll out. The state is focusing on people most at risk, health care workers, first responders, residents and staff at long term care and nursing homes. It will take some time to get to others but everyone who wants a vaccine will eventually get it.

Please mask around others, keep bubbles small, stay home if you’re sick, call the hotline 772-5788 if you have symptoms and use testing at the airport if you are traveling into town.

Phil Hofstetter CEO Petersburg Medical Center –

PMC team working on the effort, first doses administered Thursday evening and into Friday morning. Long term care staff and residents and other PMC workers received the vaccine. Like other health care providers, PMC is able to get one or two additional doses from each vial of the Pfizer vaccine. He reminds people that it’s just the beginning of the end, still have to keep up with hand hygiene, social distancing and masking until many others have been vaccinated.

Anticipated side effects are fever and a sore arm. Hofstetter and PMC Dr. Selina Burt both reported a sore arm after receiving the shot. The first person in Petersburg to receive it was registered nurse Mamie Nilsen who works in long term care, at just about the same time as one of the facility’s residents.

The latest testing numbers  – 6,446 tests completed to date, 94 still pending results. Eight of those are in the 7-10 day turnaround range, the rest are all within zero to three days. To date, 54.8 percent of population has been tested and 10.5 percent in last two weeks.

PMC physician Dr. Selina Burt, one of the medical center’s committee members for the vaccine effort –

The mood at the hospital is very optimistic with the arrival of the first vaccine but she echoes Hofstetter in reminding people to stay the course, with masking and other health measures. It could be into mid-summer before the general public has access to it.

The state has an protocol for who receives it first, developed from CDC recommendations, front line health care workers, EMS, long term care residents, and people more vulnerable from complications of COVID-19 before the rest of the population is vaccinated.

Liz Bacom, Infection Prevention / Quality manager at PMC –

PMC was allocated 220 doses. There’s a monitoring system with the shipment of vaccine. That keeps track of its temperature and GPS from the time it leaves the manufacturer to the time of delivery. Providers have 120 hours, or five days, to administer it, after it’s removed from cold storage.

Questions on safety and efficacy of the vaccine:

Who in our community does PMC think will benefit from the vaccine and what is PMC’s approach

Risk of negative outcome from the vaccine is less than the risk of having a negative outcome from contracting COVID-19. PMC is encouraging everyone to get the vaccine when it is available to them, even pregnant or breastfeeding moms.

Another questioner was asking to be directed to a peer reviewed study on auto-immune reactions to syncytin and a pregnant woman’s ability to maintain that pregnancy after receiving the vaccine.

Liz Bacom responded that people can listen and participate COVID-19 ECHO information sessions to answer some of these more esoteric questions from others who know more about the research.

What are the known side effects of the vaccine and how was the conclusion reached that the vaccine is safer than the risks of COVID-19?

Side effects are similar to other vaccines, injection site pain and swelling, fever, tiredness, nausea, usually no more than 48 hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an app for reporting side effects from the vaccine. (

A question on the rush to get the vaccine out and whether it’s safe –

Dr. Burt says that there have not been any deaths reported from receiving the vaccine. There was a death in the trial for the Pfizer vaccine from one of the participants who received the placebo and contracted COVID-19 and died. Your chance of dying from the vaccine is very, very low. Your chance of dying from COVID-19 is significantly higher, especially if you’re an older person. The risk of getting the vaccine is less than the risk of a negative event happening if you got COVID-19. In two weeks or three months, there will be more data about the vaccine but she is confident risk from the vaccine is lower than the risk from the disease. PMC representatives also urge people to seek sources of reliable information

Phil Hofstetter adds that the vaccine peer review process for the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency authorization was not accelerated. He says there isn’t the luxury of time to keep the pandemic in control because the high number of cases and deaths.

Can we just vaccinate the most vulnerable and the rest avoid the vaccine?

Dr. Burt – it benefits the people of highest risk if everyone gets vaccinated. We should keep masking, social distancing and washing hands. We haven’t had enough time to be able to tell how much receiving the vaccine impacts someone’s ability to transmit the virus. People may still be able to transmit the virus even after being vaccinated. A virus particle could still live in a vaccinated person who is fighting off the virus and transmitted to others.

Liz Cabrera, Petersburg Economic Development Council –

State submitted final spending plan for CARES Act fisheries relief money. The application process will be through the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, keep an eye out for those applications once the spending plan that allocates the money between commercial, sport and subsistence sectors is approved.

The final round of the Alaska Can Do non-profit grant program is open for applications through January 14 through the Alaska Community Foundation.

Alaska Mental Health Trust has a micro-enterprise grant to trust beneficiaries or anyone who experiences developmental disabilities to assist with self-employment goals. The deadline is January 27.

This is the last COVID-19 panel show for this year planned on KFSK. The next will be Friday, January 8, 2021.]

Dec. 11, 2020 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

Dr. John Hoyt, Surgical Pathologist at University of Washington

–Dr. Hoyt is the Medical Director at Northwest Pathology and is board certified in anatomic pathology, neuropathology and clinical pathology. He practices pathology in Bellingham, WA. He has traveled to PMC a few times a year to help administer pathology in the local laboratory.

–Our WA laboratory has two experts in molecular pathology and they developed the PCR assay test for our lab being used for detecting the COVID virus. We’ve been pretty hard at work and have had a lot of help from students with the Western Washington University. The day after Thanksgiving we did our millionth COVID test.

–We don’t have the freedom to vary the assay at all. It usually goes out to 40 cycles. You usually see the virus coming up at cycle 18 or 20. (PMC goes up to 45 cycles)

–There is essentially a zero chance of a false positive. The virus is unique so if you find it at all, it’s coming from that virus. The specificity is essentially 100 percent. The PCR test is the gold standard. The assay was to set up to find if the virus is there, to detect whether you have it or not. A false positive could only come from interference like something spilling over from another sample, which would be extremely rare. It’s really different than other assays in the laboratory. Can you detect the virus and you not be infectious? Absolutely, because of the specificity we can detect at very low viral loads. The PCR test is not set up for how MUCH of the virus you have. The test is not set up to know how infectious you are or the number of viral particles you have… just whether you have the virus at all.

–The PCR test and antigen test are different. The antigen is also called the rapid test. There are two types of antigen tests available for COVID now. The PCR test is much more sensitive than the antigen tests. The PCR test is 20,000 times more sensitive than one of the antigen tests and 100,000 times more sensitive than the other antigen test. The antigen test works IF the number antigen particles are really high. You may very well miss lower levels of the virus using an antigen/rapid test. You can have a negative antigen test and a positive PCR test.

–Antibody tests look at if a person has antibodies to fight the virus. We already have antibodies for the coronavirus but they are just not present at high enough levels. The purpose of the vaccine is not to introduce new antigens that we don’t have antibodies for. It is to select out antibodies that we already have and boost them. We don’t know in the long run what the real value of the antigen tests are. They don’t tell you whether you are currently infected like the PCR test.

–The nasal swab method has variables like how it is collected that could affect the quality of the sample. That could create a false negative but not a false positive. This virus seems to hang out happily anywhere in the nasopharynx and mouth. Saliva as a specimen works just fine as does nasal swabs. If the virus there, the PCR will find it because of the sensitivity of the test.

–Harvard has a good study from its best experts, a 30-plus page document for the pandemic response. They said test through the roof. It’s an amazingly well thought out recommendation full of science. You’re living on an island and have the opportunity of keeping the virus at bay because you are isolated. You can track people who come and go. You know how people are coming and going. An interesting statistic: Australia has just finished its flu season. In 2020, there were 52 cases of the flu. In 2019, there were 33,000 cases of flu. 33,000 cases down to 52 in Australia from one year to the next. We have to conclude that social distancing and masking are working.

–Masking will be part of our daily life for a while. Until you see that the virus has essentially died in the human population, people will not be comfortable walking around like before.

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

•  6,264 PCR COVID tests completed at PMC
•  144 pending tests, turn around times running at 0-6 days, eight of those are 4-6 days, one is 7-10 days out

–Our strategy is to detect and isolate, take it out of the mix. To make leaps and assumptions of what happens with the viral load and how infectious someone is…we’re not there yet. Our strategy has always been detect, take out, quarantine and then let people come back into the population afterward.

–We’re very fortunate right now that we have no cases. A lot of places around the state are in lock down mode. Our strategy should remain the same.

–Social bubbles are challenging “Bubble up but don’t bubble over”. Keep bubbles small. Celebrate safely this holiday season.

–There are differences between the testing platforms. Thank you to Dr. Hoyt for helping clear that up.

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

–We are preparing for the holiday season. Businesses are planning for Julebukking events and developing safe plans to do that. The borough’s website has guidance for businesses to follow. Some businesses are submitting plans to EOC.

–Community Risk Plan is out on the borough’s website. We encourage everybody to find it, bookmark it, visit it regularly. If you have any comments on how it could be more useful please forward those to the EOC.

–Please be respectful of each other. We need to be neighbors after this is over. Be kind to each other.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter

–The latest is that we are still here in person and hope to get through the winter break with nothing happening with COVID. Some kids are getting symptoms that we are following up on but they have been other viruses like the cold.

–Reminder that the school has a testing and quarantine policy in place for staff and students who might be traveling in or out of state for the holidays.

Petersburg Economic Development Council–Liz Cabrera

–Business owners should know that the State of Alaska has temporarily suspended new and renewing business license fees.

–Federal seafood trade program has extended its deadline. That’s the program for commercial fisheries to reimburse them for impacts for retaliatory tariffs. The deadline is now Jan. 15, 2021.

–The fisheries Cares Act Relief. The spending plan has been released in draft form by the state. They are not yet accepting applications and we don’t know when it will occur.

–The borough’s utility subsidy saw about 200 households apply. Residents should have seen an email about it or they should see it on their utility bills in December.

–Round 2 of business grants is complete. We awarded about $508,000 total through both programs.

–We’re crunching the numbers to see if we have anything left in the borough’s Cares Act funding. There are a few ideas are floating around. We don’t want to have to give any money back.

–Remember to support our downtown businesses when shopping for the holidays.

Questions/Calls from the Public:

Q: Dave Berg–Is it inevitable that we’ll get an outbreak of Covid-19 like there has been in other Alaska Communities? Even though we’re ‘remote’, other small cities like us have had serious outbreaks.

A: Karl Hagerman–That’s a really good question. There are a lot of people working very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. The more we congregate the more the risk there is. Just because we don’t have the risk today doesn’t mean it won’t be there tomorrow. The virus doesn’t affect people the same way. Many people get through it without many symptoms but others are hit hard and lose their life. If we knew how it would affect every person maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation. From the EOC perspective, we want people to just not get the virus.

Q:  Dave Berg–Cities around the country are testing wastewater for Covid-19 to determine the level of infection by location; are there plans to test wastewater in the Borough to track infections?

A: Karl Hagerman—We had looked into it in the beginning of the pandemic. It wasn’t a proven system. It took so long to get results that it wasn’t worth it. UAA might be setting up a program that could work. We will look into it but haven’t started anything yet.

(More submitted questions about vaccines and other topics will be covered during next week’s show)

Dec. 4, 2020 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–After a lot of preparing we are rolling out a Risk Communication Plan for the community. It is similar to other risk plans, which has color levels: yellow, orange, red. Green would be after the pandemic. Yellow is what we are now, which is low risk. We have one active case. As of right now, the dashboard online is live but it is in draft form. It shows the risk level at the borough, at PMC and at the schools. Sometimes the levels are different between those entities. (School is low risk while PMC is elevated). We want feedback from the assembly and the public on what they think about the dashboard. You can find the dashboard through the borough’s website. It includes masking details and some guidance on essential and non-essential businesses.

–Thanks to Matt Pawuk at PMC for helping to set up the online dashboard.

–The EOC will be putting out some guidance on the Christmas holiday break. The Julebukking tradition is big in Petersburg and some businesses are submitting plans to the EOC for that.

–We are very fortunate in Petersburg right now. Cases are low and our risk is low. But it’s not all luck. People are trying to keep others safe. Thank you to those who are doing what you can. This is not an easy time. It’s a dark time of the year, we’re coming up on solstice. It can put people in bad moods. Be kind to your neighbor and enjoy the holidays.

Erin Michael, Public Health Nurse:

–There are increasing cases everywhere in the country and the world right now. Now is not the time to disregard recommendations. Last week, Alaska had close to 5,000 cases. One out of every 16 passengers coming into Alaska tests positive for COVID when they arrived. So, please follow the quarantine recommendations.

–We are seeing increases in hospitalizations and Covid-related deaths in Alaska along with the increased cases.

–CDC has updated its quarantine recommendations for close contacts to a positive case. If you’re a close contact, quarantine can end after day 10 without testing if you don’t have any symptoms (instead of 14 days). You would still need to take precautions and wear a mask when you’re out and about and wash hands frequently. Quarantine can end after day 7 IF diagnostic specimen tests are negative and no symptoms have been reported during quarantine. However, that’s hard in a rural community like ours. It’s more challenging to get a quick test result in the time frame instead of just waiting for the 10 days.

–Try to keep your social gatherings as small as possible. A lot of the people we are talking to through contact tracing are being exposed at larger gatherings. It allows this virus to spread very easily.

–The state is trying to hire more contact tracers. We’re are having to triage who we are contacting. We’re focusing on people who were in contact with a positive case within the last one to five days. If they are past that they may or may not be contacted.

–Leaving town can increase your risk for getting infected with COVID. If people are traveling via air, think about exposures that you might not think about like how you are traveling after the plane, whether it’s Uber or a taxi. Keep in mind that traveling via air can have some inherent risks with it. Decrease your risk during travel by thinking ahead.

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

• 6,013 total COVID tests completed at PMC
• 123 pending, 20 of those are between 4-6 days old and the rest are still maintaining a 0-3 day window.

–People should be thinking not just about COVID. Any reason that people could be sent out of Petersburg for are at risk because of capacity issues in other hospitals. That’s where the challenge is. We have to ask, where will be send them? The options of medevacs are changing and it will likely get more challenging this winter.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter

–School district is working with the EOC on the Community Risk Plan. We could end up being in different risk levels from the borough and PMC.

–We are really lucky to be having in-person schooling. I’m on calls with other school districts and there are a lot of really challenging stories right around us. A lot of schools have been doing virtual learning for months. They are running into staffing issues. It’s always a little humbling talking to other communities. We are working really hard here to keep our kids with us. The kids are also focused with staying with us here in the school.

–Figuring out when school staff could take part in the vaccinations. We are taking information from the state on that.

–Our holiday concert won’t happen in person but we are looking into creative ways to make it happen virtually.

–We have worked with our staff on the holiday break and very few of the staff will be traveling.

–There has been some discussion about changing spring break. We are considering possibly splitting those days into a few different breaks. Maybe having a few three day weekends instead of a solid week.

Questions/Calls from the Public:

Q: How will PMC handle vaccines? What’s the plan to distribute as far as dates, recipients, does PMC have the technical capability to store vaccines?

A: Liz Bacom—One of the vaccines has to be kept at a -80 degree Celcius temperature. They have a very challenging process in Alaska distributing that to rural Alaska. We are figuring out how to distribute the COVID vaccines in Petersburg. The vaccine will be shipped to Anchorage and then sent to Petersburg. It will probably be transported on Alaska Airlines. Once it leaves its very cold environment we have five days to give the vaccines. We will be getting small batches over the next several months. We are prioritizing who gets the vaccines. The state will be providing guidance on the priorities. First, it will be health care workers in long term care and the long term care residents and EMS workers. Then critical infrastructure and then the high risk older populations. It will take us several months to get through all of the phases.

Q: COVID capacity in the hospitals? Are Seattle hospitals no longer taking COVID patients from Alaska?

A: Phil Hofstetter—We haven’t heard that.

Q: Have we had any COVID hospitalizations in Petersburg?

A: Phil Hofstetter– No we have not.

Q: How often to PMC staff get tested in Long Term Care? What if Mountain View Manor workers or patients don’t want to get asymptomatic testing?

A: Liz Bacom—The hospital has been doing asymptomatic testing every two weeks. Those that work in Long Term Care, we have to test them weekly. We’re trying to keep our vulnerable population safe. Workers there are tested every week. We’ve looked at out breaks throughout the state because they happen so quickly because of asymptomatic spread.

A: Phil Hofstetter—Congregate settings are a concern. A lot of the facilities are testing weekly. These are recommendations that we make to the borough. As cases tick up, it’s really important to test. There are limited things we can do and testing is one of them. We have a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel with this vaccine so we should practice as much caution as possible to prevent spread. We are seeing devastating results with health care workers who are just crushed dealing with COVID cases. They are at the front line and are thinly staffed. Health care workers are sharing their stories.

Q: Can PMC pick up asymptomatic testing that SEARHC will be ending (Dec. 19)?

A: Phil Hofstetter—If we can, we will… but we have to make sure we’re able to do it. We’re looking into it.

Q: Is the drive through testing test gone at PMC?

A: Phil Hofstetter–We removed the tent for icy winter conditions. We are hiring a full-time person for testing there. It’s in the same area but someone will come out to you. We are hoping to increase the availability of testing later in December.

Comment: John Havrilek—Thank you to all the people who are on the show today and all the hospital staff and all the borough assembly members in asking people to mask in the community. It’s helping us keep the businesses and schools open.

Nov. 20, 2020 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–A face covering mandate was approved by the borough assembly on Monday. Basically, it requires anybody to mask who is going into a building open to the public and not being able to social distance. There are several allowable types of face coverings to use. If you’re outside in a large group of more than 50 people you need to mask. There are exemptions that allow for any medical conditions: it says anybody with pulmonary, breathing, or medical conditions, which is pretty broad. There is no enforcement and no proof needed of that. We really believe that people know if they do or do not have a medical condition. We ask that everybody be honest with themselves and the community when they’re claiming that. We want people to be kind to each other so don’t shoot dirty looks at someone if they aren’t wearing a mask. The medical issue is a sticky point for a lot of people.

–Is there any checking or any enforcement at all of the masking mandate? No. There is no active enforcement effort at all for masking. Police will respond to calls about complaints but their first priority for those types of responses is education about why masks are important and the fact that there is a mask mandate in place. People may not know there is a mandate. The police department will focus on education first and foremost. If someone is blatantly disregarding the mandate, then there could be a citation but we’re going to try to avoid that as much as possible. The assumption is that if someone is not wearing a mask they have a medical exemption. There is an allowance to remove masks if you are eating or drinking.

–Is the masking mandate just in place until the assembly decides to replace it?  It is open ended until the assembly decides to end it.

–The assembly also approved a testing mandate for in-state travelers but it’s not a big change from what was happening. This requires in-state travelers coming into Petersburg to test when they arrive. But many travelers have already been interested in testing anyway. It does recommend that people test three days prior to coming to Petersburg but you never know what kind of testing is available in each community. If you weren’t able to test before you arrive in Petersburg you can test when you get here. Recommending that residents sign up on the state’s travel portal for free tests at the airport.

–Thanksgiving is not a very great holiday for COVID-19 pandemic reasons. There is a concern with people coming to town and then congregating with others. There is a potential for spread for sure. The definition of quarantine and isolation does not allow for gathering. Basically, if there is a way that the family can celebrate within their own households and not have visitors outside of the household that would help. If you’re going to meet with people outside of your household, it would be best to meet outside and do something outdoors. Do not have a buffet of food for people to cycle through.

–Plan for students and others coming back to town from college or other places. They have to adhere to the state’s travel mandates. They must practice strict socially distancing for at least five days. It’s important for families to think about that and give students their own bathroom and segregate them to a certain part of the house if you can. Having family members quarantine together also works.

–Tree lighting will be happening next week on Friday. It will be a different look this year. There will be two tree lightings, one at 5:30 and one at 6:30 p.m. to help spread out the community. They are advertising it as a masking event. They are emphasizing social distancing throughout the event. There will not be a parade this year down Main Street. The Chamber has done a great job organizing the event. There will be food vendors selling ‘to go’ food.

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

•  5,625 COVID tests completed at PMC
•  100 pending tests, Turn around times–Quest is running at 3.3 days, the state lab is taking about 4 days to get results back, 13 tests are 4-6 days out
• Percent of population tested: 49.6%
• Percent of population tested in last 14 days: 9.1%

–SEARHC is ending its asymptomatic testing Dec. 19. Until that day, it’s offered on Saturdays only.

–We are watching what’s happening in the state, staying connected to colleagues around the state and what they are dealing with. Asking, what would we do in a surge? It’s pretty daunting the number of cases and how they are filing up hospitals. 530 workers in the state could not report to work because they either had COVID or were close contacts. It’s affecting the rural areas because of staff shortages. If staff are infected or are close contacts it puts a huge pressure on the facility. It exponentially amplifies burnout with the existing staff.

–Keeping social bubbles very small during Thanksgiving will be important. Take all of the cloth towels out of the bathroom. Using paper towels and items that will not be shared can help. Think of fun ways that you can connect with people who cannot be with you in person.

–Does the size of individual virus particles go through masks? Does it pass freely through a mask? A viral particle is very small and it needs to hitch a ride on molecules of liquid. Those molecules don’t have to be big at all. If we talk about how much virus is needed to infect somebody, there is certainly a threshold of success. It’s kind of like throwing darts at a board. If you throw one at a time versus 20 at a time. There is no perfect science on this. I think people can come to the conclusion that we are just trying to minimize the spread. We’re not going to eliminate it. We’re not trying to put fear or restrain the rights of people. We’re trying to protect each other and ourselves when we ask others to wear masks. Arguing whether or not they are effective or not should be something that is off the table and we just talk about how we prevent the spread of the virus in our community. There is an argument of why we don’t have more cases but there are a lot of cases in Southeast Alaska and people are traveling on flights coming and going every day. We have to do whatever we can to prevent the virus from getting a hold in our community.

–What kind of mask prevents COVID-19? Are many people wearing masks that are ineffective? The best thing that prevents the virus is distance. If people are concerned about masks not doing the job, they need to do something else. It’s either one of the other: mask or keep distance. Even six feet is questionable in some instances, especially inside. The viruses hitch a ride on liquid molecules and those can stay in the air for a few minutes. If you’re walking down an aisle in the store and someone just walked there before you and coughed without a mask, there is a slight possibility that you could be exposed to the virus. It’s not just masking, it’s hand hygiene, it’s eye protection. We have to put all of our tools together, masking, distancing, and hand hygiene and do the best that we can.

Petersburg Economic Development Council–Liz Cabrera

–The State continues to work through the applications in the Alaska Cares program. If folks haven’t heard from Alaska Cares they are still working on that. They do believe that they have the funds for applications before September 3rd. They might not have the funds for applications that came in after that.

–Today if the deadline for submitting applications for round 2 of the local economic support program.

–Saturday is the deadline for submitting information for people who do not normally file a tax return and have not received an economic payment from the IRS, Nov. 21 is the deadline. Go on and go to the “non-filer” tool and provide the information.

–Local business owners, the state has waived the fee to get a new or renew a business license. That was effective this week.

–If the federal government extends the deadline for communities to use their Cares Act funding the state would also have to extend the deadline to the borough.

–This is the second busiest time of year for our local businesses, look to shop locally downtown first as best they can. It would make a big difference for our local businesses first.

Questions/Calls from the Public:

Q:  Dana Thynes: Why quarantine people who don’t show symptoms?

A:  Liz Bacom: It is well documented in scientific literature that asymptomatic spread is possible. The viral load starts at zero and then three days before symptoms, it is not detected. They start to see viral particles picked up two days before symptoms show up. The peak is just when the symptoms start. A positive result is a valid result. I don’t want to take a chance of somebody spreading the virus without symptoms if we can pull them out of circulation. We want to protect our healthcare workers and our most fragile residents and patients. If we can pull people out of circulation, who are probably a low viral load, are asymptomatic, then we protect our ability to provide care for this community. There is an impact if somebody test positive but if we catch them before they’ve had a lot of contacts with other people they we’ve maintained the integrity of our business.

Q:  What is the cycle threshold that PMC uses?

A: Specimens that are collected from the nose or throat are not a quantitative specimen. It’s like catching a butterfly in a hurricane. It can change from morning until night. The mucus membrane could be drier because of the winter months. Because it is a qualitative sample, you can take a very analytical number like a cycle threshold but you can’t always apply it equally to the quality of the specimen that you get. We’ve got the information and the knowledge but the human body varies a lot from minute to minute and hour to hour and day to day. There may have very different results.

A: Basically, the lower number of cycles the higher the viral load that person would have. It’s still really under debate about the importance of the cycle thresholds. It’s still up in the air and under research. Generally, if there is a cycle threshold of 20 and below it means that there is a very high viral load. For the one we run in house, 45 cycles are required before a negative test can be called. So, that’s quite a few cycles that get run. Unfortunately, the answer is that we don’t know really what the cycle thresholds will mean for their infectivity or course of illness.

Q:  What doesn’t the clinic recommend prophylactic protocols?

A: We brought it up at the medical branch meeting of the incident command. Asking, if you are asymptomatic, what can you do to boost your immune system if you are quarantining? What can the public do even before you have COVID? It’s a good comment and we will provide that information going forward.

Q:  Joe Sebastian from Kupreanof—Want to congratulate the hospital staff and Karl Hagerman and the Borough EOC team for their work. Almost the whole world is sinking in a quick sand of COVID-19. We are almost untouched with cases and the reason for that is people giving all they can. They are trying to keep the place safe. I am deeply grateful for the honest hard work. One of the things I’ve seen is the refusal of the town pull together. I’m very disappointed that this town is not pulling together as a tighter unit to help keep people safe. I participated in the flu shot clinic with medical staff and many, many volunteers helping give over 700 vaccines to people for free. Many people were working on their day off. I don’t know how much more you can ask out of people. It’s not up to the individuals to decide the right path. The medical team are trying to protect the whole of the community. I would really like to ask people to step back a little, pull up their pants, and do the best they can to work with everybody else. I feel we are really lucky to have these great people here.

A:  Karl Hagerman—thank you for your comments.

Q:  Michael Truex–The pandemic seems to be based on cases not on verified illness. Violet said it was our local cycle threshold is 45 cycles. Dr. Fauci said you cannot culture a positive test result from an individual whose positive PCR uses more than 35 or 36 cycles. The whole issue of reduced hospital staff that we’ve been referencing and all the worry about not having anybody to take care of us in nearby hospitals, it’s all based on testing and subsequent contact tracing being done. Nearly this entire problem is based positive test cases with no connection to actual symptoms or sickness. Please tell me why you are standing behind such a faulty tests?

A: Obviously, if you test more you’re going to have more numbers, I think that’s part of what’s being referenced. While that’s true, one of the things that we also look at and what’s more significant is acuity and hospitalizations. Those are becoming quite exponentially higher in the state. Some of my rural colleagues are dealing with not just asymptomatic patients but sick patients that are coming in. What leads to that are asymptomatic people, so tracking and isolating and keeping them out of the mix of the community is really, really important with this virus. The trick of this virus or the difficulty of this virus is that it can transmit without symptoms. It may not show up as being ill with patients and they can still transmit to somebody else and that that other person then, the response is much different and the reaction. We don’t know why. We just know that we need to test and track and take them out of the community. Everything else is still a developing science. We are learning more, we know a lot more about this virus. It is a dangerous virus because there are so many asymptomatics as well.

A: There is a statewide Science Echo Wednesday at noon, state science experts are there to answer questions at the state level. It’s a free discussion. They deal with all the research papers that are out there. Our focus is boots on the ground here and trying to protect our community.

Nov. 13, 2020 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–It was startling to get an emergency message from the Governor Thursday. In a nutshell, he’s imploring Alaskans to buckle down over the next three weeks and try and flatten the curve of new cases of COVID-19 across the state. The cases are really going crazy in many areas and the hospital system, the health care system is strained. For Petersburg, we are still doing pretty good. The last active case has recovered so we are back to no active cases in Petersburg. It does not mean we should not take the Governor’s alert seriously. It could be right around the corner for us as well. Stay diligent and do all the things that we have preached all along. There are no business closures in the Governor’s comments. He encourages businesses to work remotely if possible. If workers can dial in from home, they should do that. The EOC is not issuing any mandates as a result of the Governor’s comments but we agree with buckling down and turning the situation around in the state.

–On Monday, the borough assembly will be considering a face covering mandate, a mandate on intrastate travel testing, and extending the mandate on cruise ships. These mandates are not coming from the EOC but the EOC assisted assembly member, Jeff Meucci, in drafting them. The EOC does support the mandates.

–Please try to be kind with everybody getting fatigued with the things that we’re doing and saying. It takes a lot to keep going and everybody has frayed nerves for sure. At the end of this pandemic we still want to be friends and neighbors. Be kind a treat everyone with respect.

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

• 5455 COVID tests completed at PMC
• 136 pending, 5 are 7-10 days out, 25 are 4-6 days, the rest are 0-3 days
• Percent of population tested: 48.2%
• Percent of population tested in last 14 days: 10.5%

–Also, 242 SEARHC tests (Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium is offering free asymptomatic testing to Petersburg residents on Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

–There is a lot of new information about vaccines coming out. A few should be coming out in December. The state is very busy working out a plan to distribute vaccines to hospitals once they receive the vaccines from the federal government. The first group will be the health care providers and others who help those workers continue their work. They are expecting small shipments at first. This will not be a mandatory vaccine; it will be optional. The vaccines can’t be stored for long because it has to be extremely cold. There are very few hospitals that can store it.  So, it has to be given within 24 to 48 hours after it’s received. (Altogether it can be 5 days out of cold storage)

–Getting outside and get exercise. Get out on the hiking trails. We live in a great place. It’s the best thing for our health.

–Our intention throughout the past eight months is to ensure that we have the capability to care for our community. Our facility and staff is small and so everything that we’re doing is for providing care. Sometimes it’s frustrating but we’re doing all of this so that we can maintain a continuity of care.

— We’re hoping to be able to care for people that come in. We’re proud of the work that Petersburg has done in controlling the virus. But when we look all around us, the other medical facilities where we transfer patients for critical ill patients who are here for a heart attack or trauma or need surgery, they’re full. That’s why we’re so intent in trying to keep Petersburg healthy so we are able to care for the people who need care. So, when our state and regional hospitals are full and won’t take transfers that puts the people of Petersburg at risk.

–Assume the best in others and we’ll get a lot further.

–Three legged stool: masking, distancing, washing hands. If you miss a leg, you’re going to fall.

–Alaska is seeing the most cases spreading among the younger groups in their 20s through 40s. Those are the people that are most out and about and in the workforce.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter

–Very grateful that we are still in green. Listening to other school districts in the state, we are in a very enviable position. The kids are doing the best they can in our daily life here in taking care of themselves and others.

–Nervous about the next few weeks and the holidays with college kids returning to town and others traveling in. We’re remaining hopeful that we’re going to keep moving forward and keeping our kids in the buildings. That’s the goal; everything that we’re doing is keeping us on that track.

–Masking for students for 6-12 is masking all day with some breaks. The elementary students, especially the younger ones, had more exceptions. Moving forward, we are doubling down on that with increased cases in the state and with the holidays coming up. Nobody loves it but we keep reminding ourselves of the importance of it and the reasons why we’re doing it is to keep ourselves in person here.

Petersburg Economic Development Council–Liz Cabrera

–There are a lot of programs out there and some deadlines are approaching. The deadline to apply for PIA’s $500 moorage subsidy is this Sunday, November 15. It’s open to all Alaska residents. There are applications on the PIA’s website, at the borough’s website, and at the harbor office.

–The second round of economic support grants for businesses is open is until 4:30 p.m. November 20th. Applications are online at the borough’s website, at the borough finance office, and at the public library.

–The residential $500 credit for utilities per household is open for application. The applications are online on the borough homepage. The deadline to apply is November 30.

–The childcare assistance, the final month for funding is December and applications must be submitted by the first of the month.

–For commercial fishermen, the seafood trade relief program, that’s a program that provides assistance impacted by retaliatory tariffs. The application period is open until December 14.

–The NOAA fisheries assistance program, the spending plan for that is still accepting public review and comments until November 15. Once that plan is finalized they will start accepting applications.

–There is about $350,000 remaining in Cares Act funding at the borough. There are no concrete ideas yet about how it will be spent.

Questions/Calls from the Public:

Q: Courtney–Asked about false positives and the PCR tests that are being used. I’m curious if anyone in the hospital or borough has looked at the cycle of the tests used here? Any information over 33 cycles is pretty much no longer very useful however, a lot of tests put out for emergency use have longer cycles even up to 45 cycles. Are you guys concerned about this reality? Has anyone checked on our labs and what cycles are being used? The limit is really important in these tests and a lot of labs are going over these limits?

A: Liz Bacom, PMC—The cycle threshold is what she is talking about and the amount of virus is present in the specimen, the reproduction of that DNA to become a detectable limit. How many cycles does it take before it picks up. So, the lower the cycle threshold then the higher the viral threshold in the specimen, conceivably. I have to do a little research on that. Two types of diagnostic testing–Antigen testing versus PCR testing. Antigen testing is not going to amplify the material, it is just going to look at the proteins on the virus to see if they’re present or not. Is it going to pick up other things and call it positive and it isn’t? The FDA is restricting antigen testing to people with symptoms.

Q: There was a recent survey that 92 percent of Americans were masking. Of the people who have tested positive, 85 percent said they have been masking. To me that calls into the validity of masking. Masking and social distancing contribute to emotionally decline of all demographics. It seems like it’s just been a campaign to push the fear and use control to get the message across that if you get COVID you’re going to die. We’re all going to die and people die from a whole host of illnesses. Could there be less fear and more proactive behavior besides masking and more output on education to see how we could reduce some of these comorbidities?

A: Karl Hagerman, EOC/Borough–There are lots of things that can be done to try and turn this around. The counter approach is to restrict activities because we know how the virus is spread. So, we’re focused on reducing those modes of transmission. We know how it transmits. There is a goal for immune systems to be bolstered, unfortunately, at this point in the pandemic it’s about preventing the transmission of the virus. It is a total strain on everyone but it’s hard to shift gears and to characterize it as a positive versus a negative campaign, I don’t see it that way. I think anyway we can prevent the transmission of this virus is the right way to go.

Q: The creator of the PCR test says it should not be used for diagnosing illnesses because you can find anything and everything and it will be meaningless. Many people know that this test is only being used because there is nothing else. I know the clinic has no other tools but the PCR tests on the basis of which they are demanding quarantines. Why doesn’t the clinic quarantine people with actual symptoms, which has how it’s been done in the past? Why doesn’t the clinic recommend prophylactic protocols like supplements, fresh air, and socializing that can take fear away and give peace of mind.

A: Phil Hofstetter, PMC–PMC has been promoting healthy activity, getting outside, long before COVID. Getting outside and being active. I think there are confused messaging out there for sure. When we look at fear messaging, the fear of losing our civil rights seems to somehow go into masking, which seems to be more damaging. We have been looking at keeping things simple from day one. I try to keep it simple. Keeping our distance, going outdoors and staying healthy. When we’re indoors and in public, masking is appropriate, washing hands are appropriate. Those are all going to compliment and improve keeping the virus at bay. I think it’s dangerous to look on social media and all the information that’s out there and make interpretations of the virus.

A:  Jennifer Bryner, PMC–People are often very infectious before they have symptoms so wearing a mask before they have symptoms is important. Quarantining people who are sick is essential.

Q: Nancy Berg—Be kind. I have had someone ridicule me in the store for wearing a mask. Others have yelled at people not masking. I don’t know why people are getting angrier. I want to tell people to respect each other. Anne Loesch had shared a good article in the Atlantic from the end of September about the spreading events that are the worse the crowded indoor events are the worst. Concerts, bars, you let your guard down and take off masks and give people hugs.

Q:  I’ve seen a lot of information on a lack of efficacy not to mention the physiological and psychological dangers of face masks. I’m not looking at Facebook, I’m looking at really legitimate sources. But the message from PMC and the borough, those are 100 percent pro mask. And both entities are receiving COVID related funding. So my question is did any of your funding sources stipulate a mask plan or anything to do with how masks are promoted by your organization.

A: Karl Hagerman, EOC/Borough–There is no funding source tied to a making policy, enforcement of masks or pushing that issue whatsoever.

A: Phil Hofstetter, PMC–There is absolutely no funding associated with any deliverables such as that.

Q: Chris–Under what conditions would the EOC not recommend a masking mandate?

A:  Karl Hagerman, EOC/Borough–The reason that masking comes up so often is that it’s very effective in controlling the spread of the virus. The EOC is very cautious in the recommendations that they make. We always err on the side of caution and support a measure that will help protect the population. The only reason the EOC would not recommend a masking mandate would be if the pandemic was over.

Q:  Chris–At what age would the recommendation be for not masking?

A: Jennifer Bryner, PMC–Any child under the age of two would not be required a mask. There is information from the state for child care facilities. The school has its own masking protocols already. The CDC recommends that children two years and under should not mask.

Q:  Chris—Should men cut their beards off to get a better seal on their masks?

A:  Liz Bacom, PMC–I think as long as you’re wearing some kind of a facial covering, it’s going to help. Fabric masks are meant to cover the nose and the mouth. If you’re wearing an N-95 mask that’s a whole different deal. We’ve had healthcare workers with facial hair who could not wear N-95 masks. For fabric mask and a medical masks it’s not going to matter. 

Nov. 6, 2020 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–EOC issued a health alert Thursday. It’s a call to the community to resist the fatigue that we’re all experiencing due to the pandemic. Cases do impact our businesses and schools. The health alert encourages residents to wear face coverings when going into buildings when you’re going to be around people, even when you’re outside and near other people not in your household. We’d like to see physical distance as much as possible, maintaining that six foot of distance from other non-household members; hand washing regularly; covering all coughs. It’s known now that the virus spreads through regular breathing and talking so coughing and sneezing has a huge potential for spreading the virus far and wide. Avoid large crowds indoors, especially people who are not in your households. Getting a flu shot is also recommended because it can be a burden on the healthcare facility when they are focusing so much on COVID. It helps take the burden off our healthcare providers.

–There was another Petersburg case identified Thursday, which was an employee of the Petersburg Medical Center who was asymptomatic. The employee was isolated and the contact tracing has begun. It was likely community spread because the person hadn’t been traveling.

–Petersburg has three active cases right now. We have to assume that the virus is spreading through asymptomatic people; people who have no symptoms and don’t know they have it. The virus is in small communities all over Alaska. We have to assume there are cases in Petersburg that we don’t know about. That is the reason for the health alert. We have to assume it’s here and we have to protect each other.

–We are encouraging people traveling within the state get tested when coming to Petersburg or returning to Petersburg. It’s free for residents at the airport. It’s recommended by the state and by the borough.

–If the State does not extend its emergency declaration by November 15th it would greatly impact Petersburg and could cause some problems. The State’s emergency declaration has also included a large amount of funding with various aspects of the response, namely the airport testing. However, the EOC would pick up the testing through the end of the year if the state’s declaration does lapse.

–The free airport testing at the airport extends to ferry instrastate passengers as well. Ferry passengers can also use the state’s travel portal and test at the airport.

Public Health Nursing–Erin Michael

–The most recent case was likely community spread. The person did not travel so that would mean it is community spread. That’s what is happening all over the state.

–In general, people in Petersburg are responding to contact tracing calls. Sometimes it can be challenging to reach people right away. Across the state, it’s been challenging, a lot of people are not answering their phones, which makes it very difficult to slow down the spread.

–As far as the recovery time for positive cases, it’s at least 10 days at a minimum from when a person’s symptoms started or from their positive test if they are asymptomatic. If they are having symptoms it can be longer than the 10-day mark and that depends on what kind of symptoms they’re having.  

–Alaska had over 500 cases today. Alaska this past week had over 2,616 cases and they see that trajectory continuing to rise. Potentially we could be doubling our cases within three weeks if we don’t take our measures and protocols seriously. Each week cases in Alaska continue to rise. Having 800 cases a day would be a huge amount. We know everybody is fatigued about this, health care workers are just as fatigued as everybody we’ve talked to through contact tracing.

–Testing is being impacted across the country because of high numbers of cases.

–There are interesting results coming out from recent COVID studies. CDC fine-tuned it’s guidance on households with a positive case. They are now recommending the positive person and others in the household, they are asking everybody wear masks if they are using shared space. They are also seeing the same transmission in households with positive cases between either adults or children. The age doesn’t matter with a positive person in the household the amount of transmission is the same.

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

–5,224 total tests, 89 pending, 21 of those are 4-6 days and the rest are within the three day range. We are seeing a little bit of a delay of some of those tests.  SEARHC tests results are having a longer turn-around time. (Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium is offering free asymptomatic testing to Petersburg residents on Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m to 2 p.m.) They share their results with PMC and they are having a little bit of a longer turn- around time. They are having to send a number of their tests up to Anchorage. They have 242 tests performed, they have received 157 and still have 85 tests pending. No positive results through the SEARHC testing. SEARHC has a testing unit in Sitka for symptomatic tests. The asymptomatic test go to Anchorage at ANMC. There is also an alternative lab that they use.

–The availability of testing material is of concern for PMC. We want to be able to handle an outbreak so we want to have on hand 800-1,000 rapid tests on site. We are being a little more judicious with that. There is still a national shortage for the rapid tests and we’re monitoring that pretty closely and making sure we’re using that appropriately.

–PMC is on red status from the positive case Thursday. We were able to localize it a little bit more this time. I’m not going to say where the staff person worked at PMC but we were able to keep some of the services open. We are trying to keep the flow out of long term care, obviously. While we are red status there are some departments seeing non-emergent patients still. They’ll reconsider the status on Monday.

–Anytime we have something like this we are very short staffed in those departments. CDC guidelines are a little different for healthcare workers. If both parties are wearing medical masks and they have been distance they are not necessarily considered close contacts.

–502 new cases in Alaska announced yesterday. Our ability to transport patients out of Petersburg has been impacted. Normally, we’ll send people to Juneau or Ketchikan and if it’s serious it would be Anchorage or Seattle. Now, Anchorage has about 7 ICU beds available (as of Friday). 11 percent of the hospitalized patients in Anchorage are hospitalized with COVID. They have more healthcare workers dedicated to those patients and they are also seeing healthcare workers who have been exposed. They are dealing with higher complexity of care with their patients and they are short staffed. It impacts Petersburg if we had to send a patient out; we have fewer options.

–In your home, prepare for a positive case. Look at how you can segregate people in your home for a positive case. Arrange for provisions to be delivered. If you’re positive, you are not supposed to leave your home unless it’s for medical care. Think ahead; consider what if we had to stay home because of this? Are we prepared?

–Free flu shot clinic Saturday is by appointment only from 9-11. Appointments needed to be made by 4 p.m. Friday.

–People should still call PMC to make regular appointments. Follow up with your providers.

–Thank you to PMC staff for the amazing effort that they are doing while everyone is stressed and burned out.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter

–Volleyball was playing against Klawock today, Friday. The Klawock students just stayed for some hours and then got back on the boat to go home the same day. Each player was able to have a couple of guests. A limited number of people with tickets were able to watch spread out in the stands. It was nice to have something a little normal.

–Schools are continuing to be in a green status. 5th graders are still quarantining and they can be back in the building on Tuesday, November 10.

–Overall, with the mitigation strategies in place in schools, the schools are not really the places of transmission, according to the State.

–Definitely there is a concern with the rising cases in the state. Ketchikan has gone to a hybrid status with part in-person and part online learning because of the cases they have in that community. The cases in town affect the school staying open. Our goal is to stay in the green and keep the kids in school.

–The school district went forward with an intrastate policy this week for testing requirements for staff and students. It aligns with the state’s interstate policy for testing requirements. Staff and students traveling within the state will need to isolate for five days and have a negative test result before they return to school. We are considering adding a few inservice days after the holidays as a buffer for staff and students returning from holiday travel and needing to isolate.

–Thanks to all the district teachers and staff while they carry around that heavy weight everyday working on all the protocols and keeping things on track. Everyone is working super hard.

Liz Cabrera

–The borough assembly approved two programs at their last meeting. The first is a one-time utility subsidy for residents, providing a one-time credit for up to $500 per household per utility account. The applications are being accepted for that program. You can fill it out and submit it online. That program is open until the end of November. The second approved program is a second round of economic support grants for local businesses. We reduced the eligibility requirement for demonstrating the loss of sales to 15 percent. The first round was 20 percent. The applications are online at the borough’s website and at the finance department at the municipal building. The deadline is November 20th.

–Millions of people have not filed for the IRS economic impact payment. The IRS has extended again for people to file for that.

–The State of Alaska is issuing unemployment benefits of up to $300 per week. The state has just now got the program online and they will start issuing payments today.

Oct. 30, 2020 Notes from KFSK’s Weekly COVID-19 Panel Discussion

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

–EOC has issued a health alert encouraging testing for intrastate travelers. The testing is available at the airport for free. State Mandate 10 does allow for this testing and the local EOC is formalizing that somewhat by encouraging it. We also encourage intrastate travelers to isolate while they wait for their test results similar to what testing is like for out of state travelers. Test results are typically back within three to five days. We are doing the best that we can to try and protect Petersburg from the surge happening in the state.

–Halloween recommendations remains the same. Requesting that all participants celebrate smartly. If you’re going to gather, do that outdoors. Wear face coverings if you’re indoors and limit your time indoors. Don’t use communal bowls when given out treats. Put the treats out on a table separately or put them on a railing or some other manner. The virus is in Petersburg with five active cases in town as of today.

–Voting for the general election next Tuesday will be in the community gym and people should follow safety measures. It will be the same as the primary election with voting booths spaced out. Please social distance when you are at the poll.

–Please try to resist “pandemic fatigue”. A lot of people are very tired of trying to do the right thing. The fatigue has set in almost at the worst time with cases surging in the state.

–Thank you to Hammer and Wikan. The company has announced this week that they are requiring their employees to wear facial coverings unless they have a medical condition. This is to help protect the community. The company has a very large presence in the community and I encourage other businesses to take Hammer and Wikan’s example and also have employees wear face coverings. The health alert is a business policy in place just for employees to help protect the public. They are not requiring face coverings by the customers but I encourage customers and patrons to respect the staff at the store and wear masks as well. Keeping case counts low is good for the community’s health and also good for the economy and allows businesses to stay open.

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

–5,049 total tests, 172 pending mostly because of our recent testing with fishery workers this morning, 46 percent of population has been tested overall (since the spring) 12.7 percent of the population has tested in the last 14 days. Turn-around times for results is still around three to five days.

–We’re seeing quite a surge in the state and there are some trickle down affects related to our facility. My concern is that we are heading into winter time and people are heading indoors more. Masking, washing hands, hygiene are all going to be important.

–We’re monitoring inpatient numbers in Anchorage. There is a current wait list for inpatients in Anchorage. This affects us because if we are medivacing a patient out we would not be able to send them there, they’d have to go to a different location.

–There is a PPE shortage nationwide (Personal Protective Equipment) with the surge in cases. So, every effort that we can do on the community side, will be well worth it.

–Masking is a challenge for people especially if they aren’t used to wearing them. The respiratory droplets that come out when you talk, sing, laugh, or shout can be diminished by distance if you’re wearing a mask. If you are in front of someone who is talking to you and they are not wearing a mask, there is still exposure to your eyes. There is some evidence that regular glasses give some protection. The best protection is everybody wearing masks and that’s what I encourage.

–There are two components in tracking and controlling spread. The first is testing. One of the challenges with kids is that they don’t display and express symptoms. Parents should keep a close eye on your kids because they will often push through mild symptoms and not mention it. The other component is contact tracing. If someone is out there walking around and doesn’t know they are a contact, they can be asymptomatic and spreading COVID.

–If you get a call that is a blocked number or one that you don’t recognize, please pick up the phone. If it is Public Health they will identify themselves right away.

Petersburg School District—Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter

–The school district is considering what to do with overlapping pods at recess. But it’s complicated. They would prefer not to require masking outdoors when the kids are at recess because that is one of the times that they get to unmask and take a break from it.

–The 30 minute break at recess is the only break all day that some teachers have. We don’t have enough staff to cover all the 30 min. recess. There is room for help monitoring the recess. We talked to public health and PMC and we were overly cautious with the 5th grade group this time. We might not necessarily do that next time.

–There is a special meeting for the school board on Monday to consider requiring testing for intrastate travelers similar to what the out of state requirement is. It would be a directive from the school district, which we can do. We don’t have a ton of travel with staff and students but it needs to be discussed.  I think as we’ve shown this week, every single thing we can do will help keep us in school in-person. The kids really want to be here. We should do it because that is what the kids want, that is what’s best for the kids.

–It’s important for people to be kind and compassionate to those involved with the cases. It’s no fun to be the family and person in the center of this. It’s hard to be that person getting a contact tracing phone call. Show support and compassion for others.

Liz Cabrera

–The local relief grant program for local businesses is just about done. Most of the payments have gone out for local business About 48 businesses have been awarded grants already and there are a few that are still in the process. The average award was just under $9,500.

–There is a new program for a residential utility subsidy. Customers have to provide an application stating that they have had an economic hardship from COVID. They have to have a utility in their name since before March. $500 credit onto their account.

–There is a regional program, an online workshop for entrepreneurs that is being run by Spruce Root. It’s a series of workshops and helps businesses develop a recovery plan and with financial planning. The deadline to apply is November 1st. There is information on the borough’s website.

–Alaska Cares Program is still making those awards. If you applied near the end of the timeline just before the deadline they are still making those awards.

–Petersburg’s unemployment for September was 5.5 percent. It is still below the regional rate, which is 6.7 percent and the statewide level which 7.2 percent.

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 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 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 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, 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:

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 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, 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 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 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:

–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 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 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

–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

–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 ( 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: 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

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.  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 – 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 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

*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:

*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 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:

*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:

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

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:

*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:

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:

*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:

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:

*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:

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:

*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:

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

*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:

*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:

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:

*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:

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:

*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:

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:

*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:

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:

*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:

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:

*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:

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:

*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:

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:

*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:

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:

*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:

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

*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:

*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:

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: 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: 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:

*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:

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:

*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:

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: 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

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.