ON THE ROAD AGAIN – One of The RIDE buses goes down Katlian Street past the city boat grid this morning. After four months of being shut down because of antivirus precautions, the public transportation service resumed operations today. All routes remain the same except the Blue Line bus route, which now turns around at Whale Park instead of the Gary Paxton Industrial Park. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Alaska PFD Checks To Be Mailed in July

The Associated Press

JUNEAU (AP) — Checks from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund will begin going out to residents three months early, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said, citing economic hardships caused by the coronavirus.

He called these “extraordinary times.”

“We need to make sure that people of Alaska have cash in their hands to help with this economy,” Dunleavy, a Republican, said Wednesday evening.

This year’s check is expected to be about $1,000 and Dunleavy’s office said the Permanent Fund Dividend Division, which determines annual eligibility for the checks, has received more than 670,000 applications. 

The division estimates nearly 600,000 people will receive payment on July 1. Payments will be made later for others as their eligibility is confirmed.

Residents must meet residency requirements to qualify for the checks, which typically start going out in the fall. Traditionally, dividends have been paid with earnings from the oil-wealth fund, the Alaska Permanent Fund. This year’s payout is being paid in part from a state savings account.

State Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, an Anchorage Democrat, urged Dunleavy to move up the payment distribution before the announcement was made and said the outcome left him “pleased, because I think it’s necessary.”

Dunleavy’s announcement came as the state prepares to further reopen parts of its economy that were shut down or restricted due to coronavirus concerns. In moving to allow businesses to open to full capacity starting Friday, Dunleavy cited low case numbers and said restrictions had bought time to build up the state’s health care capacity. 

The state is encouraging people to continue taking precautions, such as maintaining distance from each other, wearing face coverings in public areas where maintaining distance is difficult and frequently washing their hands. 

“We’re as prepared as we’re ever going to be,” Dunleavy said in an interview Thursday. He said he expects numbers will rise because there is no vaccine. He said the state will respond if there is a spike or cluster of cases.

Alaska has reported just over 400 cases, with 10 deaths. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.

Dunleavy said he is concerned “the economy with every day that goes by with less economic activity takes a hit that’s going to be difficult and take a long time to recover from.”

“We have to instill confidence in people that we can manage this thing and part of managing that is encouraging them to get back towards - towards - normal,” he added.

Begich has urged people to proceed cautiously as reopening continues. By July 1, “you can imagine that if indeed our health situation is better, there’d be an inclination for people to go and spend that money,” he said. 

Moratoria on evictions for nonpayment of rent, foreclosures or repossession of vehicles for people facing financial hardships related to the virus also are due to expire June 30.

The state’s initial unemployment claims were 7,741 for the most recent reporting week, according to the labor department. That compares to 819 for the same period in 2019. Initial claims reached a high of 14,590 earlier in the pandemic.

Federal figures are somewhat higher for the most recent week but previously have been revised to match the state’s numbers.

There were 50,049 continued unemployment claims, state labor department figures show. Lennon Weller, actuary for Alaska’s unemployment system, said that category generally reflects how many people were determined eligible and filing for benefits. It is 43,188 more than during the same period a year ago. 





Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-13-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 10:30 a.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 60

Total statewide – 1,539

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 4 (2 resident; 2 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 14 (11 resident; 3 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 87.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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