Jenny Carroll, Information Officer for the City of Homer, Nurse Lorne Carroll from the Homer Public Health Clinic, and Derotha Ferraro of South Peninsula Hospital discuss the latest from the Homer Unified Command and answer listener questions.
Rachel Tussey from the City of Homer and Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins address issues, policies and practices specific to the Homer Harbor.
The live, on-air panel for the COVID Brief convenes every Thursday at 9 a.m. If you have questions for the panel, email them to email@example.com.
05-21-2020 CBrief Part 1
Kathleen Gustafson, KBBI:
Good morning. You are tuned to KBBI Homer AM 890 the time is 9:03 AM, I'm Kathleen Gustafson with the Thursday regular COVID 19 brief. Let's check in on the panel. Jenny Carroll from the City of Homer, do you read me?
Jenny Carroll, City of Homer:
Hi Kathleen. It's Jenny. Good morning
KBBI: And Nurse Lorne Carroll from the Alaska Department of Public Health and Social Services.
Nurse Lorne Carroll, Alaska Department of Public Health and Social Services:
Hi Kathleen, you're loud and clear. Good morning.
Derotha Ferraro, South Peninsula Hospital.
Good morning, everybody.
KBBI: Good morning. So if anyone has any questions for the panel. They can call, Chloe is standing by on the phones, 235-7721. And let's start with Jenny Carroll from the City. Jenny, I read yesterday that the Kenai City hall is opening up. When will Homer be making those decisions about opening up City hall again?
Jenny: Yeah. The City has been working through the different phases of reopening Alaska to put protective measures in place so that the City hall and other places around our other facilities can be following the health guidelines that the State has put out for how to operate our businesses safely to help us be more COVID proof. So many of our services are open, like, bill paying remotely, but we are working with public works to put in shields in various public, face-to-face counters. And when we have everything in place, we'll be rolling out some openings.
KBBI: Thanks for that Jenny, and Nurse Lorne Carroll, can you update us on statewide numbers for testing?
Nurse Lorne: I don't have that in front of me, no, Kathleen. Do you want to hear numbers of cases?
KBBI: That is exactly what I want to hear.
Nurse Lorne: Okay. Well, looking globally, we're at 5 million cases and 325,000 reported deaths. So those are reported numbers globally and just putting this in the context of history, back in 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic, there was an estimated 284,000 deaths, so we've surpassed that. In the U S we have a reported 1.5 million cases, 93,000 deaths in the United States reported thus far and out of that 1.5 million, 294,000 have recovered. So we often get a question, how in the world are those numbers reported? Those numbers are reported and possible because of the local public health system. So that's public health professionals working in concert with the existing healthcare system to funnel that information back to a centralized place to report the numbers back. Here at home in Alaska, we're at 399 cases as of the last reporting period, 399 reported cases, 43 hospitalizations thus far, 10 deaths to date for COVID 19 and out of the 399, 348 have recovered so far. So along the Peninsula we've had 6 in Kenai so far, 3 over in Seward, 6 reported in Soldotna, 3 up in Sterling, 2 in Anchor Point, and out of the 4 reported cases for Homer residents, we've had 4 recover and that’s the new designation of Kenai Peninsula, Other.
KBBI: So is that including Anchor Point. Is it?
Nurse Lorne: No, that’s a good question, Kathleen. It's a pretty complex system of reporting because there's so many variables for census designated places like Anchor Point that are 1000 folks or more, DHSS will report for those areas. So for the example here is Anchor Point which has about 1900 for population. And so that's how the DHSS says we were able to report specifically for Anchor Point. So on Southern Kenai Peninsula, there's several census designated places that are under 1000 folks. Those are reported currently as Kenai Peninsula, Other, in the raw data. And there is a chance that DHSS may report more specifically in press releases, noting that those Kenai Peninsula, Other are actually on the Southern Kenai Peninsula.
KBBI: Thank you, Nurse Lorne Carroll. Derotha Ferraro. The question I meant to ask was to you about testing in Homer. Can you update us on Homer tests?
Derotha Ferraro, South Peninsula Hospital
Happy to update you. So as of this morning, we had submitted 795 swabs for testing. So of those 795, 743 have returned negative 5 have returned positive and 47 are pending. And I would like to just remind everybody, because it's Memorial day weekend, we might have visitors here. We might have returning summer residents, we might have summer employees, but I just want to give a quick reminder on testing in general that, it is free of charge to individuals and you do have to have a symptom, a COVID 19 like symptom. The list is long, everything from cough, runny nose, fever, headache, nausea, diarrhea. The list is very long.
KBBI: Right. And you don't have to have all the symptoms?
Derotha: No, no, no. Just one. And you'll be screened when you get up to the hospital. So testing happens in the parking lot of the hospital, and there's a phone number that you can call when you're on your way or once you arrived. There are signs 235-0235 and they'll screen you, they'll ask questions just to make sure that your symptom isn't related to something else. Assuming that you do have a COVID- like symptom, then you'll be swabbed. And we send our swabs up every morning, we drive them to Anchorage for processing. So the maximum turnaround time right now is 48 hours. So you will learn within 24 to 48 hours of your results. And people are asked to quarantine from the time that they test until they get their results, because if it ends up being positive, then you've limited the exposure to others. Some folks are kind of wondering, oh, well, can I test instead of quarantining as I come back to the community from being gone for the winter? And NO that testing isn't an option. It's not an alternative to isolation or quarantine, it's just been another tool to help guide us.
KBBI: And Nurse Lorne Carroll, and Derotha, I guess Nurse Lorne, the requirement to quarantine for 14 days if you're coming in from out of State, is that still in place even with all the other restrictions being lifted?
Nurse Lorne: Yes. That's one of our primary means of preventing the spread, the additional spread of COVID within the communities inside Alaska. That the center point of that is that we know that COVID 19 has an incubation period between 1 and 14 days. And what I mean by incubation period is the length of time between being exposed to COVID and developing signs and symptoms. So COVID 19 is what we like to call an acute disease process, meaning that it has a pretty quick turnaround and the turnaround for COVID is 14 days. So if folks can hunker down, not have contact with others for 14 days, if COVID is present, and emerges after, say, anywhere between 1 to 14 days, then the virus would be clear and that will prevent transmission to other folks around that person.
KBBI: Thank you, Nurse Lorne. Jenny Carroll from the City of Homer, I would like to return back to you and ask about preparations underway for opening up services. We talked a little bit about this on Tuesday morning we heard you talk a little bit about pickleball being back. What are some of the other things that the City is getting together so that people can start recreating?
Jenny: Sure. Well, community recreation has submitted some plans to the incident commander at the City to look over for safety protocols. And the pickleball was the first one to be opening up at the HERC that, as I said earlier this week, that's by reservation only. And there are certain restrictions in place to help keep social distancing, keeping the surfaces clean, like the pickle balls themselves. So I would encourage folks who are used to playing pickle ball in a certain way, to go to the City of Homer website and the recreation tab and look in there to see some of the new things in place so that you can still get out and enjoy your exercise. I know that Mike Illg is looking at opening up some other activity, like karate classes, those kinds of things and it's just a matter of making sure that we have the proper set up in place, everything so that we can do it in a good manner. And as soon as we can, we will roll those out to the community because we do know it's important, but it's equally important to keep everyone as safe as we can and do our best. We have campgrounds that are open again with, not camping as usual, but camping as usual in our new world with COVID 19. We also have a place on our website where people can go to learn about the new way that we have our campgrounds open and I encourage you to go there and look. We started with a reservation system, but Homer is such a popular destination that that quickly became unmanageable. So, it is back to a first come first serve basis. We have campground hosts that help to remind people about the health advisories and direct people to open spaces there. Because as a passer by, they may see, Oh my goodness, there's so many spaces not filled in there, what's going on? What do you mean it's full? Well, that's because we have our spaces distanced so that we can encourage people to maintain the social distancing out there.
KBBI: Thank you, Jenny.
Jenny: We're opening up bathrooms as well are open and we have a cleaning schedule going there and you'll be talking with Bryan Hopkins and Rachel Tussey at the end of the half hour show here about how the Port and Harbor is open and getting busier every day that passes, correct?
KBBI: Rachel Tussey from the City and Harbor Master Bryan Hawkins will be on about 9:30 this morning to take your questions. I do have, I want to get back to you and see what else is on your list of information to get out, but I just got a question from a community member who called in to 235-7721 to say they're curious about the precise definition of quarantining because they keep seeing people out and about in the community, for example, at the dump who claimed to be quarantining. So Nurse Lorne or anyone who wants to weigh in on it, can you talk about the precise definition of what it means to isolate yourself for the 14 days?
Nurse Lorne: Sure thing. I'll take the first go and then maybe folks can follow up. So the definition of quarantine is eliminating contact with others, and in this case, it means for 14 days. And so that means staying at home, having your food and other needed supplies delivered to you and not having contact with others. So that would mean taking walks on trails around your home is good but the idea being, whatever it takes to decrease contact with others in order to stop transmission of COVID. Transmission of COVID happens through exposure to respiratory droplets or secretions from others that have COVID 19 in it. So that would mean touching surfaces that have been frequently touched by others, perhaps that have COVID.
KBBI: And what about, I know that many, if not most, I don't even think it's fair to say most people, but many people have credit cards and debit cards to pay for things and can pay for what's being brought to them without money changing hands. But there are plenty of people who don't have that luxury. And so I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about handling money?
Nurse Lorne: Yeah, those are all good questions. Kind of at the heart of this as being creative as you can in order to get your needs met, especially essential needs while decreasing contact to others. And you know, the list of scenarios is, quite frankly, it's overwhelming but one way to kind of think of it is a frequent and very good hand washing is one way to mitigate that in a really good comprehensive approach, in terms of handling items between each other.
KBBI: Thank you, Nurse Lorne. Jenny Carroll, another question has come in over the phone. I know everybody may want to take a swipe at this one, but I want to start with you, Jenny Carroll. So if five people have tested positive in the Homer area, then why does our wastewater sample come back as showing no signs of Corona virus? I do want to start by saying, you know, we're getting them later there. Those aren't from when the tests come back. They're from a couple of weeks ago. Isn't that right?
Jenny: That is correct. And what I also think about why we're not seeing it is our concentration is very low. While we've had positive cases, one of the positive cases was a person who was a resident of Homer, but was in Anchorage for the duration of the sickness. We have another person who is in that case count who was in Homer very briefly, I understand, left Homer. So some of the cases aren't still here. So we have at this point, a very low incident of actual positive cases and we are watching those test results come back very closely because so far they've been COVID virus free and that's a good sign and we'll watch it and we'll report back as that changes. But I'd say it's because we have such low incidents right now and some of the cases that are in our count, are no longer active or in Homer.
KBBI: Thank you. And another question is just come in from 235-7721. A community member is curious about the source of the latest COVID 19 positive cases. Do we know if the last two were local transmission, travel related? Can someone speak to that?
Nurse Lorne: Yeah, Kathleen, I can speak to that. the last case reported was, was the question for Southern Kenai Peninsula. Yes. Okay. The last two cases that have been reported for Southern Kenai Peninsula, the investigations and follow up that's been done by the other public health nurses, up to this point, all of the evidence is suggestive of community transmission.
KBBI: Okay. And so the last one that was added to the Homer count as well, not just the Southern Kenai Peninsula. So you're saying they're all showing signs of community transmission?
Nurse Lorne: Yeah, that's a good question. The last two that were reported were initially reported for Homer but when the broader team took a closer look at those we realized as a team that they were actually outside of Homer proper, but on Southern Kenai Peninsula and the confusion on reporting was based upon having the word Homer in the physical address which, for the folks down here on this end of the Peninsula, we know that, like my address is Homer, but I live up in Fritz Creek. So working that out with the folks reporting on residency who don't live down here, took a little bit of time, but yet those two cases, the investigation definitely points that perhaps not travel related, but the suggestion from the evidence is that there's community transmission, certainly on Southern Kenai Peninsula.
KBBI: Thank you
Jenny: Kathleen, I would like to add onto that, you know, why is that important? You know, our reporting on the cases, that it's in the census district, or if it's in the City of Homer and it matters in that we're keeping small population places where we're providing them the full benefit of HIPAA regulations for keeping people's personal health information as private as possible. We are in a public health situation though, so it is important for us to know that it is in our census area. There is COVID transmission in Homer, in our area with populations that utilize home or services businesses, those kinds of things. And what the real message is, is that we still need to be taking our preventative measures seriously, because it's there. So that's really the importance of, I think, the reporting of cases, is to know if we are still seeing it in the area, how it's being transmitted. And the public health nurses have done a great job at walking that fine balance between everybody really wanting to know all the specifics about the case, but allowing each individual person with the COVID virus their personal protection of their privacy and health information. So kudos to them and it could feel frustrating to folks in the community to say, why aren't there more details about these cases? And I just want to step back and say, the main detail is that it's still active here. So while things are changing pretty quickly on the State level, as far as opening up, we all still need to stay in a maintenance mode. And I know for myself, when I think about maintaining like my house or my ability to still hike up a mountain at my age, that that takes a bit of effort and time, that's for sure, as does our new approach to how we do things in our community so that everybody remains healthy and safe and we can keep our businesses open, but I just wanted to get that out there. That's really the important message that explains why people who were following the City of Homer's COVID 19 web page saw numbers that were added to the Homer list that were then taken off.
KBBI: So thank you for that explanation. I have a new question come through. A community member is curious if rashes and hives are a possible symptom of COVID 19?
Nurse Lorne: I'll take a first go in. Happy to share answers with anyone. The short answer is yes and for a couple of reasons. The potential signs and symptoms of COVID 19 are very broad and can include no signs and symptoms. Anybody else want to add to that? Rashes are one of the potential symptoms.
KBBI: Yes. Okay. Thank you. Jenny Carroll from the City, here's one more question that just came through 235-7721 says, when will the other Kenai Peninsula category be further defined? For example, into specific neighborhoods like Diamond Ridge or Kachemak City?
Nurse Lorne: Yeah, that's an excellent question. Kenai Peninsula numbers. DHSS has a range reporting like that because this is really a new, COVID-19 is brand new. We've never been here as a community. And in 2009, H1N1, we had a lot of cases, but we didn't have the reporting systems and technology to share quantitative data with the broad public like we do today. But the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Other will only be, that number is reserved for the census designated places on the Kenai that are below 1000. So if their census designated places of residents that have a case under 1000, they will be reported only as specific as connecting and some other, so the example here would be, if there's a case in Fritz Creek, for example, Fritz Creek population is about 1900. So that number would show up, not in Kenai Peninsula, Other, but it would show up in Fritz Creek.
KBBI: Thank you, Nurse Lorne.
Jenny: I would also like to add into that for people who are concerned that perhaps, you know, there is community transmission in their general neighborhood area that the public health nurses do a fantastic job on contact tracing so if there is a case that you may have been a close contact with, rest assured, the public health nurses will be contacting you about that situation. So that's another safeguard. If the information doesn't come out in a press release, rest assured that the public health nurses will be contacting you if indeed you could possibly be a close contact.
KBBI: And a community member just called in with the comment to add in about the wastewater testing, that to remind us that a lot of the local population isn't on the water system. There's lots of rural and backwoods living and dry cabins and such so that may have an effect on it as well. So I want to give last call because it's just about time to switch topics and move to Harbor Master Bryan Hawkins and Rachel Tussey from the City of Homer. Get your questions ready about the Port and Harbor. So Jenny Carroll from the City of Homer, is there anything else you've got on your list today?
Jenny: Sure. I just want to remind everyone to have a great, a happy Memorial day weekend. Be cautious with fires out there, be safe. And I wanted to give a big shout out to our EMS crews in the Southern Kenai Peninsula and everywhere. Actually, it's been EMS appreciation week, and we sure appreciate the work that they do with the community. So I want to put a challenge out there to everybody. Since it's been EMS week, let's be safe and cautious out there and give the EMS a break this weekend if they can.
KBBI: Thank you, Jenny Carroll from the City of Homer. How about Derotha Ferraro from South Peninsula Hospital?
Derotha: You bet. Just a couple things. One, follow up on symptoms. If you have any sudden onset of a new unexplained symptom, that is your cue to call the COVID Nurse or head up to the hospital parking lot. And what if you're not in Homer? https://covid19.alaska.gov/ has a map of Alaska and you zoom in on it and it shows all of the places in the State of Alaska that do COVID 19 testing. So no matter where you're recreating or where you're working or visiting, you have always, 24/7 access to that information. So don't wait until you come home to get tested. Get tested the minute you have a sudden onset of a new symptom, and the majority of hospital and hospital related services are available. So, after you enjoy the Memorial day weekend, get back to taking care of your health, the providers are available for to you.
KBBI: And thank you Derotha Ferraro from South Peninsula Hospital. How about Nurse Lorne Carroll from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
Nurse Lorne: Hey Kathleen. I just want to say thanks for securing the space for us to meet weekly. You know, it's kind of thinking about how COVID 19 offers such a unique opportunity for folks to not only learn more about all of the points that contribute to a healthy community, but it offers a place for folks to actively contribute to improving the health of our community. I was kind of thinking, I wish that these shows were more like eight hours long so that might not be possible, so here's a couple of resources, if you have questions or any kind of comments or feedback, we would love to hear it. firstname.lastname@example.org would be one place. email@example.com and you can shoot me an email anytime too. It's firstname.lastname@example.org. That's email@example.com. Thanks Kathleen.
KBBI: Thank you so much Nurse Lorne Carroll and Derotha Ferraro from South Peninsula Hospital.
Part II 200521 CBrief Harbor
Kathleen Gustafson, KBBI:
Hi Rachel Tussey from the City of Homer. Are you on the line?
Rachel Tussey, City of Homer:
Yes, I am.
KBBI: Awesome. How about Bryan Hawkins? Harbormaster can you hear me?
Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins, City of Homer:
Kathleen? I can hear you good.
KBBI: Okay. So I have a few questions here. Then let's start with Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins and Chloe is still standing by if you have questions for the Harbor master and Rachel Tussey from the City of Homer, the number to call is 235-7721. But let's just start with what are the rules for people coming in and out of the Harbor right now?
Harbormaster Hawkins: So if we're traveling in the Harbor, by boat, of course, in-State travel vessels are not required to do any additional quarantine, unless, of course, they have a case of virus onboard or sick crew members, then they are required to self quarantine. You would be able to tell the vessel is under quarantine; they're required to fly a flag, the Lima flag, which is a quarantine flag. It's black and yellow squares, and that would be a boat that's under quarantine. Currently we have no vessels under quarantine in the Harbor.
KBBI: And Rachel Tussey, do you have anything you want to add to that?
Rachel: Well, I do in relation to quarantine restrictions for people coming in and out, if that's what you'd like to hear?
KBBI: Yes, go ahead, please.
Rachel: All right. Specifically for vessels from other Alaskan communities, no, there are no other additional quarantine restrictions. Mandate 018, regarding intrastate travel allows travel for all purposes between communities that are located on the road system. That also includes the Alaska Marine Highway System. So travelers may use any normal means of transportation, including vehicle, boat, ferry, aircraft, and commercial air carrier. For out-of-state recreational vessels, quarantine requirements outlined in Mandate 010 for interstate and international travel do apply. So if you are an out-of-state recreational boater, you would be required to quarantine on your vessel for 14 days or until you leave, whichever comes first. As far as monitoring for that, it's really about personal responsibility and that's dictated by the State's mandates. It is the same as asking a traveler to quarantine at home or their hotel room and the State has asked those who are quarantining to be honest about it, you know, for our community safety as a whole. I would say that the City of Homer has resource information available to provide your travelers in quarantine who need assistance with getting groceries and other supplies. So for those who are coming in who do need to quarantine, they can call the Homer call line, the COVID call line for further information at 907-435-3197 or they can visit our website at https://www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/covid19 I do have some extra information. I've talked mostly about recreational boaters, but I haven't really touched on the quarantining requirements for commercial boats. So for in state and out of state commercial vessels, they will be operating under a community like workforce protective plan, either as an independent commercial fishing vessel, per Mandate 017 or part of a company's fleet protection plan per Mandate 010. Monitoring, I think was part of your question about that. For commercial vessel compliance is the responsibility of the boat captain and the seafood purchasing company vessel captains are required to maintain documentation per the State Mandates, and they must provide a copy of their acknowledgement form upon request by any seafood purchasing agent or federal, state, or local authority. That includes law enforcement and fishery regulators. So it varies depending on what kind of boat you are.
KBBI: I see. And so anyone who is putting into the Harbor and staying there needs to check in with the Harbormaster anyway. So is that information going to be made available to contact tracers if a case comes up in the Harbor?
Rachel: DHSS and public health already has a robust contact tracing process, I believe. Jenny earlier on the call had already spoken about that. So if a person tests positive, they're contact tracing investigations will bring them to any significant contacts needing additional testing or monitoring and that includes local businesses or facilities. So that being said, if public health reaches out to the City, requesting information on if a particular vessel was in the Harbor, then yes, the City, the Port and Harbor, we would absolutely would work with them. The majority of the tracing information though, is going to be at the hands of the vessel captain who is responsible for screening their crew members and logging that information.
KBBI: Okay. Anything you want to add to that Harbormaster Hawkins?
Harbormaster Hawkins: No, that covers it very well. Of course we're monitoring the fleet daily. People may not realize this, but we are operating 24 hours a day and we take an inventory of every vessel in the Harbor at night, and so that we have an accurate count and location for these vessels. So, you know, we're like beat cops and that's our neighborhood. And so we have a very good understanding of what's going on in Harbor, where the vessels are and where the activity is.
KBBI: And the next question I have is, will the City be screening its own employees on the Harbor for COVID and will they be wearing masks?
Harbormaster Hawkins: Yeah. So yes to wearing masks. We are wearing masks in the buildings when we're working alongside of each other, with shoulder to shoulder in the field or in the same vehicles. We have adopted cleaning practices at least three times a day all the shared surfaces are wiped down in a building. When we all work in the field, working with people we are wearing masks. Of course, our customers can choose to wear masks or not, but we are being safe in our practices as how we interact with people. But knowing that this is a direct tool in how to avoid infection, by wearing masks and having clean, safe working practices.
KBBI: On the subject of clean, safe working practices, what are the sanitation procedures now and safe practices for the Harbor? For fish tables and bathrooms? The commercial dock, the fuel dock, the ice maker?
Harbormaster Hawkins: Sure. Well, fish tables will be cleaned once a day between 7 and 9 in the morning. When you go look at the tables, you're going to see that we've removed part of the surfaces so that we could effectively enforce the social distancing rules. Each building that the tables are housed in has a signpost with the maximum number of persons. And there's, subsequently, just that many places to work. The fish table that was there we actually removed part of the surface of the table. So there's just so many workstations set up. Restrooms, I confirmed with the Parks and Rec department, they're the department that cleans the restrooms. They're going to do a deep clean of the restrooms once a day, and then just have a person that is simply moving between all the buildings, all the restrooms on the Spit continuously wiping down the shared surface spaces, handles, the doorbell, faucets, those kinds of things, and just making their rounds all day long, keeping a boat wiped down. The fish dock has a separate set of protocols. The fish buyers and the fishermen of course, are working with the State to set up protocols to effectively transfer those fish safely where there is no virus transfer. Fishermen, stay on their boats, fish buyers and crews stay on the dock. Our ice plant employees are operating the same as all the other work employees as far as safety goes: wear a mask, gloves, wiping down surfaces, pieces, and we'll open up an area for them to work, when they're out working with the ice delivery system so that they've got a safe distance between them and their customers. Fuel dock is by Petro Marine Services. They have protocols where when a boat comes in to get fuel, the vessel owner stays on the vessel and the dock crews stay on the dock. They are also wiping down surfaces, spaces and adopted all the recommended work practices as well.
KBBI: Thank you. And a question just came through on the phone. Let's start with Rachel Tussey. I think you could probably give us the answer to this one. Where on the Spit can a person find an open bathroom and where on Pioneer Avenue or in town?
Rachel: Well actually Bryan might be better able to answer that, given that he's out at the Harbor.
KBBI: Well, I mean in town. Can you answer if there are any open bathrooms in town? Right now, public bathrooms?
Rachel: At this time, I do not have that answer. That would be a public works question, to determine with them if they are open and then Bryan would be able to speak to the ones that are on the Harbor.
KBBI: Okay. And what about the Harbor?
Harbormaster Hawkins: So all of the buildings have restrooms that are open. And then ramp 4 and ramp 6. Those buildings were set up with individual rooms and part of those rooms are still closed for the winter. Now we're working towards getting those opened as well. But every location into the road park ramp 2, ramp 4, ramp 5, launch ramp, ramp 6 and the deep water dock restrooms are all open, some of them have rooms that are still closed though.
KBBI: And thank you. Also, one more question that came in from the phone for a Harbormaster Hawkins. What is the policy for ice plant workers? Is it different on the Spit? Because the community member called in and said they saw them unloading fish with only one person wearing a mask and six or so others unmasked. So is there a different policy for ice plant workers?
Harbormaster Hawkins: Well, ice plant workers are the City employees and the people that it sounds like they're talking about were crews that work for the fish buyers.
KBBI: Right. For pitching fish?
Harbormaster Hawkins: Yep. And so the State says that the dock crews, the people, the fish pitchers, they stay on the dock. They're not directly interacting with the fishermen. And so those people they're seeing are not likely ice plant workers.
KBBI: They are the people pitching fish for the buyers?
Harbormaster Hawkins: Yeah. And so they're those buyer’s employees and are operating as the fish buyer directs.
KBBI: All right. It looks like Chloe is typing me one more question for the Harbor master which is, where are all the carts? A community member has noticed a lack of carts on the dock. Is this due to COVID 19 restrictions?
Harbormaster Hawkins: No, it's not. You know, the carts migrate around all around the Harbor. I'll look into it and see if we can get them distributed back around. We try to keep some in every ramp location, but like I said, the people pick them up and take them someplace to another location in the Harbor and they don't get to the ramps.
KBBI: I wasn't laughing to make light of the question. I was laughing because it does seem like sometimes like the carts do time shifting and going into different dimensions and hard to find sometimes. Last call, Harbormaster Hawkins and Rachel Tussey from the City of Homer. Let's start with you first. Rachel, do you have any final comments? Thank you, by the way, for both of you, for taking questions from the listeners and making yourself available today. Thank you. I appreciate that.
Rachel: I would say, final comments is, is that if anyone out there has questions or concerns about, you know, traveling, travel requirements, they can always reach out to the State directly on the website https://covid19.alaska.gov/ has all of the Mandates on there. It has all of the information. They're going to be able to find all of the attachments with the very specific requirements that are needed. If they're unable to get through to the State, or maybe they just want to talk to a person specifically about Homer and how Homer is responding during this COVID 19 time, they can reach out to our Homer COVID call line. And again, that number is 907-435-3197 and we will help them out as best as we can.
KBBI: Is there a curated list of best practices for the Harbor and policies and such on the COVID 19 page for the City of Homer?
Rachel: There is not, but the Port and Harbor, as well as every City department has their own protection or mitigation plan that is vetted by our incident command and our City Manager. So these plans are continuously being updated based on the State's Mandates and what is recommended by DHSS. So I recommend contacting the Port and Harbor office directly or the specific Department if they have questions regarding the best practices or they want to, see what we are operating under. We operate based on what the State is saying.
KBBI: Thank you. Rachel Tussey from the City of Homer and Harbormaster Hawkins. Any final words from you?
Harbormaster Hawkins: You know, I would say that coming into this weekend, we know that we're going to have a lot of visitors and people are going to be out recreating and we encouraged that; there's a lot of room in Alaska. There's just these places where we all come together, that kind of choke points, if you will, and that's where we have to have our antennas tuned and we have to be cautious and protect ourselves. Social distancing works, it really does work and if we adopt that in our mindset and how we operate, I am very confident that we can get through this together and everybody can recreate and work and commerce can flow.
KBBI: Okay. Thank you so much Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins and Rachel Tussey from the City of Homer. Thank you. Thank you. Okay. This has been the COVID 19 Thursday brief for this Thursday, May 21st I'm Kathleen Gustafson. Thanks to Jenny Carroll from the City of Homer Derotha Ferraro from South Peninsula Hospital, Nurse Lorne Carroll from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, and Rachel Tussey from the City of Homer and Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins for being on the panel today. And extra special thanks to all the people who have been, more and more every week, calling in their questions or emailing in questions and using this space the way it was intended to put you in direct contact with people who have the authorization to give you the right answers and to answer fully. So thanks so much for being a part of the COVID 19 brief.