COVID-19 FAQ's

Have you heard a rumor not addressed here? Send it to Pat Tully, Ketchikan EOC Intelligence Officer and we will look into it! 




BUSINESSES; QUARANTINE:

Question: 

What efforts are being undertaken for business and economic recovery?


Answer (5/12/20):

The BERG is the Business Economy Recovery Group, established by the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center, the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce, the Ketchikan Visitors' Bureau and the Borough Planning Department.The primary focus of the BERG has been to connect individuals and businesses with the available resources during the state of the COVID-19 emergency.  During the response phase of the EOC, the BERG has been instrumental in the following:

·       The BERG developed a local webpage on the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce website, accessible through the Ketchikan Visitor’s Bureau and Ketchikan Gateway Borough websites.

·       The BERG developed an online Business Directory which is accessible on the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce website with the intent of assisting Ketchikan residents with shopping locally and supporting community businesses.

·       The Ketchikan Chamber website has helpful information for local businesses such as links to state and local mandates, information on tax credits for small businesses, provisions within the CARES Act, and programs administered by the Small Business Administration.

As local functions are restored and local businesses are able to resume operation, the BERG will be able to turn over the community recovery operations to the local municipal bodies.

Regarding the CARES Act funding, it has not yet been made available to local municipalities. When it does become available, the appropriation of the funding will be processed through the local elected leadership:  the City of Ketchikan Council, City of Saxman Council, and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly.


Question:

With businesses reopening, what is the plan if more cases of COVID-19 start to appear?

Answer (5/5/20): We do expect to a small increase in cases of COVID-19 with the opening of the economy. This is why it is recommended that our at-risk members of the community continue to stay home. With the phased approach, and with the increase in testing capacity and careful monitoring of healthcare resources, we expect the small increase in case count to be manageable. The Public Health providers will monitor the case count. We do not want to open to quickly and see an exponential growth in the number of cases.  We are in close coordination with the Governor’s Office, State DHSS, SEOC, and local health providers. If there is a spike in COVID-19 cases, there will be action taken to address it.

Question: Are there criteria to determine when to shut things down in the event of a second ‘wave’ of the virus?

Answer (5/5/20):

It is difficult to determine a point where we would have to shut businesses down. If we continue to take small steps as we see the success of social distancing and applying the current mandate, we should be able to take next steps. With close monitoring of the circumstances and any new cases that arise, we will continue to evaluate each step. We will not move on to a next phase until we have seen flattening of the curve at the current phase. 

Question: 

Are churches able to reopen?

Answer (5/5/20):

Per Mandate 16, Attachment N, religious organizations are able to hold gatherings of less than 20 while following social distancing rules. Attachment N: https://gov.alaska.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/0425-COVID-MANDATE-016-Attachment-N-Social-Religious-and-Other-Gatherings.pdf.


Question: 

When will the DMV reopen to the public?

Answer (5/5/20):
The DMV is a governmental agency and considered an essential service. The division can establish its policy for operating under social distancing rules. Currently, the local DMV is open for appointment only.  If your license expires during this incident, you may use the online portal to renew it or apply for a 6-month license extension.  All road tests have been canceled.  Until May 11:


​*Vehicle and boat registration enforcement is suspended
​*The requirement of out of state drivers to obtain an Alaska driver's license within 90 days of entering Alaska is suspended
​*The requirement to obtain an Alaska title and registration within 30 days of purchase is suspended
*The prohibition of driving with studded tires from May 1st through September 15th is suspended
*Non-commercial and commercial driver's licenses that expire during the pandemic period may be extended for six months using the online portal
*The REAL ID deadline has been extended until October 1, 2021


Question: Opening at 25% capacity is difficult to make financially feasible.

 Answer (5/5/20): 

Phase One of the Governor’s Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan is designed to be the first of a series that are intended to reopen Alaska responsibly. After a proven and effective Phase One, a next level Phase Two will be opened. Each step contains a balance of the testing and health capacity of the community and the economic needs of the community.  

Resources are available on the Chamber of Commerce’s webpage, this includes the SBA programs, loans, and other such resources.  If you have questions please email businessrecovery@kgbak.us or call your lending institution.

Question: How can I get the hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and masks required by the Governor’s mandate to reopen my business?

Answer (5/5/20):

The EOC is looking to do everything we can to assist the community. We are exploring options to be able to obtain supplies if members of the public cannot get them through their own channels, but we currently do not have extra for public use.  Donations of PPEs are being accepted at the Saxman Community Center at 2841 South Tongass Highway.

The EOC is preparing a recovery plan as we begin to transition into a recovery phase from the initial response phase.  The plan will include elements that include different sector working groups, public input and guidance, how and what support may be available for opening the economy, and direction from the elected bodies. Part of the plan will be how and what support the EOC may be able to provide to open the economy in a safe and manageable manner. 


​Question: What services are available for individuals and businesses?

Answer (5/5/20):

The Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce, Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, Borough Planning Department and the local EOC have created the Business Economy Recovery Group, or, BERG.  Its primary focus is to provide economic support and resources to local businesses and households. 

The BERG is reaching out to local businesses to determine their needs and keep them connected with their customers. With this information, the BERG will develop an online Business Directory on the Chamber site, so Ketchikan residents can shop locally and support community businesses.

For local businesses, the BERG has a website with links to state and local mandates, information on tax credits for small businesses, provisions within the CARES Act, and programs administered by the Small Business Administration:

https://www.ketchikanchamber.com/covid-19-updates/

If you are interested in submitting comments, questions, and/or suggestions related to the effect of Covid-19 on Ketchikan’s economy, the BERG can be reached at businessrecovery@kgbak.us.  



Question

:

Charters are mostly 6 pack licenses which means only 6 passengers nonfamily.  At the 25% capacity that is 1.5 people on board, not financially feasible.

Answer (5/5/20)

:

The daily press briefing by the governor, commissioner, and Dr. Zink explained the real intent of this initial phase is mostly to allow charters for a single family unit.  Each business will have to decide if the limitations imposed or financially feasible or not. I believe the Governor said you can round 1.5 up to 2.  You can still take 6 as long as they are members of the same household.


Question

:

I hear the fish processing plants will have their seasonal workers quarantined at local hotels until they are clear. How are the housekeeping, kitchen and cleaning staffs going to interact with them?

Answer (5/5/20):

The processors are indeed required to have plans in place approved by the State.  All three of the local processors have been good community partners and are working closely and collaborating with the EOC on the development of their plans.  All three have recently had their plans reviewed by the State of Alaska and been informed that they have met the minimum requirements as outlined by the State.  These plans are really working documents that will need to be modified as the COVID-19 situation changes. 

Workers arriving from out of state still have to quarantine for 14-days but they are allowed to work during their quarantine provided they can do so in accordance with the plan.  If they are quarantining at a location outside the plant (residence or hotel, etc.) they can travel only between the quarantine location and the plant.  No other stops are allowed.  Processors are free to coordinate with local hotels to quarantine employees and some have chosen to do so.  Local hotels are responsible for their procedures and compliance as outlined in Mandate 16 attachment L: https://gov.alaska.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/0425-COVID-MANDATE-016-Attachment-L-Lodging-and-Overnight-Camping.pdf


Question: When does the quarantine period start for a vessel arriving from out of state?

Answer (5/5/20):  The quarantine period starts from the departure from the last out of state port of call provided there are no stops in between or the addition of crew members en route.  Upon arrival in Ketchikan the remaining quarantine can be served on the vessel or at an address declared ashore.  Persons would have to travel directly from the vessel to the quarantine address. 

Question: What if we add a crew member from out of state after the vessel has arrived?

Answer (5/5/20): If a vessel adds a crew member from out of state, they will be required to quarantine for 14 days.  The quarantine can be served on the vessel. If they can’t be isolated from the rest of the crew during their quarantine then the 14 day quarantine starts over for the vessel and the rest of the crew. 

Question: I’ve heard that grocery stores are going to be shut down and the barge will no longer be allowed to operate. They’ve also said that there will be a nationwide quarantine enforced by the National Guard. How will we get food and essential supplies?


Answer:

 

Neither rumor is true. (From Ketchikan EOC Media Release April 5): " We have heard rumors in the community and want to assure the public that grocery stores will remain open, that barge services are still operating, and that essential businesses and services are still functioning. … While it is true that the Alaska National Guard is prepared to assist our community at such a time as our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) requests help through our State EOC, we have not made a request for assistance.”

Question:

 

I have had COVID-19 and have fully recovered. Am I now immune?

Answer:

 

A recovered person would not transmit the virus if they were truly recovered and no longer carrying the virus. However, there is no evidence that a person who recovered from COVID-19 would be immune from catching the virus again. Essentially, no one is immune from becoming infected with COVID-19 and everyone should continue to take necessary precautions, practice personal hygiene, and social distancing.     

Question: If a seasonal worker has had COVID-19 and has recovered, are they still required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Ketchikan?        

Answer: They would still need to quarantine. It currently is unclear if someone who has had COVID-19 develops long lasting immunity, meaning someone may test positive on an antibody test but we do not know how long that immunity will last and if a person can be re-infected. Early evidence is showing reinfection is possible in people who have had COVID-19 and recovered. So in short, they will still need to quarantine for the 14 days.


SUPPLIES (PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPES), HAND SANITIZER, CLEANING SUPPLIES):

Question:  Masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and other supplies are in short supply in Ketchikan. Is it a good idea for a group of us to pool our money and order supplies from other countries?

Answer: It is not a good idea to enter into arrangements with people you do not know when money is involved. If one of your friends or relatives is making the arrangements, ask lots of questions before committing yourself. How do they know the supplier they intend to use? Is the supplier reputable? Have they had dealings with this supplier in the past? In short, be very skeptical before committing your money.

Question: I found instructions for making masks with household materials; if I make a bunch of them can I donate them to local healthcare workers? Can I use them myself so I don’t get COVID-19?

Answer:  We now recommend that people wear cloth face coverings in public to prevent transmission of COVID-19 if they unknowingly have the virus.  Do not use cloth face covering as the primary way to prevent transmission, but in combination with maintaining a 6 foot social distance, staying home as much as possible, and washing hands frequently. Discard or wash your mask in hot water after each use.

If you have N95 or surgical masks, please consider donating these—health care workers need these masks. You can also donate homemade cloth face masks. The EOC would welcome donations of masks, medical gowns and safety glasses. Donations can be dropped off at the back door of the Saxman Community Center at 2706 South Tongass Highway Monday-Friday between 8am-4pm.

If you need homemade cloth face masks, call 228-6605 and we can arrange for them to be provided to you.

Question: In Europe and elsewhere people are required to wear a mask when they are outdoors. Why isn’t this required in Ketchikan; is it because there is a shortage of masks?

Answer: We now recommend that people wear cloth face coverings in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if they unknowingly have the virus.

TESTS, DRUGS, OTHER THERAPIES:

Question: Will Ketchikan be conducting antibody tests?  Why/Why not?

Answer (5/5/20): Ketchikan does not have a supply of antibody tests. In Alaska in general, it is only being used in limited circumstances such as contact tracing or in congregate living situations. We are looking into options for antibody tests.

Question: I’ve heard of two COVID-19 therapies: Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin-Zithromax ZPAK) and convalescent plasma from recovering COVID-19 patients in Ketchikan or elsewhere in Alaska. Are plans in place to test and use either of these therapies here in Ketchikan? 

Answer: Currently there are no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat COVID-19. Several drugs are under investigation in clinical trials or are being considered for clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, and Ketchikan’s medical community is keeping abreast of the latest approved treatment options.

Question: United Biomedical in Telluride, Colorado is conducting trials of a test that shows antibodies to COVID-19, to better identify and isolate carriers of the virus and flatten the curve of transmission. Will Ketchikan get these tests soon?

Answer:  Checking to see if someone has coronavirus-specific antibodies is good evidence that they’ve been infected. However, the body doesn’t start to make these immediately, and they might not appear until someone’s illness has run its course. As a result, antibody-based tests can tell providers whether someone has already had COVID-19, but not if the patient currently has it.

Question: Are any of the Ketchikan medical clinics or Peace Health Hospital participating in the FDA "expanded access program" for use of convalescent serum therapy, a potential COVID-19 treatment?

Answer: PeaceHealth continues to investigate and adopt best practices for COVID-19 treatment and are considering the appropriate treatment for each patient. This therapy, which uses the blood products (plasma) of immune patients on sick patients, is not being used locally at this point but is one of many treatment options being investigated by PeaceHealth. 
 

Question: What is the difference between the types of tests available for COVID-19?

 

Answer (from FDA.gov FAQ page):  There are currently two types of tests available for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Molecular tests detect the virus and can be used to directly diagnose COVID-19 and antibody tests detect the body’s immune response to the infection caused by the virus but cannot be used to definitively diagnose or exclude COVID-19. Currently, molecular tests are the only type of tests that can be used alone to diagnose COVID-19. Antibody tests cannot be used alone to rule out COVID-19.

 

Molecular Tests: “Nucleic acid amplification tests,” or “NAAT” tests are molecular tests that detect the virus’s genetic material. FDA has issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for dozens of molecular tests. Based on current data, we believe these EUA (Emergency Use Authorizations) authorized tests are highly accurate tests.

 

Antibody Tests: Antibody (or serology) tests detect antibodies in the blood when the body is fighting an infection. The test does not detect the actual virus; rather, it detects the body’s immune response to the virus. In the early days of an infection, antibodies may not be detected, limiting the effectiveness of an antibody test. This type of test may also be falsely positive if antibodies to a coronavirus other than the pandemic novel strain are present. Because of this potential for false negative and false positive results, an antibody test should not be used alone to diagnose COVID-19.

 

Question: If antibody tests are not used for diagnosis or exclusion of COVID-19 infection, what is their purpose?

 

Answer (From FDA.gov FAQs on Diagnostic Testing): Serology tests can play a critical role in the fight against COVID-19 by helping healthcare professionals identify individuals who have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 virus and have developed an immune response. In the future, this may potentially be used to help determine, together with other clinical data, whether these individuals may be less susceptible to infection. In addition, these test results can aid in determining who may donate a part of their blood called convalescent plasma, which may serve as a possible treatment for those who are seriously ill from COVID-19.


OTHER TRUSTED SOURCES:

FDA (Food & Drug Administration) – Coronavirus Disease 2019:
https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/counterterrorism-and-emerging-threats/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) – Coronavirus Rumor Control: 
https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus-rumor-control

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) – Stop the Spread of Rumors:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/share-facts.html

U.S. Department of Defense – Coronavirus Rumor Control:
https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/Coronavirus/Rumor-Control/

WHO (World Health Organization) – Q&A on Coronaviruses: