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Wrangell Emergency Operations Center Updates Unified Command

WRANGELL – Members of Wrangell’s Unified Command reconvened on Wednesday, June 17, through teleconference to consolidate the community COVID-19 response. Talks were largely focused on recent efforts by the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to implement community testing and changing the culture surrounding positive cases.

EOC Manager Dorianne Sprehe filled the group in on discussions which would allow the EOC to provide relief to the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium’s (SEARHC) COVID testing efforts.  Sprehe stated that EOC was in the “rough draft” stages of planning for community testing.  Concerns about reimbursement from the State needed to be addressed and paperwork finalized, but the EOC was excited with the forward movement.

“The EOC is looking to provide comprehensive testing in the community, starting with our vulnerable populations – Wrangell Senior Apartment residents and employees, Wrangell Senior Center employees, and grocery store employees,” said Sprehe. “The EOC is coordinating these efforts with the State of Alaska to complete a contract, which in turn will help provide relief to our local healthcare providers.”

Jamie Roberts, EOC staff member, announced a push by the EOC to create a new culture for positive cases, changing what it means to be confirmed COVID positive or in quarantine. Roberts stated that they are looking at ways to provide wrap-around services, including working with the Chamber of Commerce to potentially implement a care package program for persons and families in quarantine.

“That care may come in the form of food support, activities, or video gift cards,” said Roberts. “The EOC wants to turn this designation from being viewed as a punishment to a message about doing good for your community, because that’s what they’re doing in limiting close contact. We want community members to feel safe to come out and say they’re COVID positive so that individuals who may have come into contact can immediately quarantine. This would be an effective way to prevent the spread.”

Closing the meeting, AICS Clinic Manager Carly Allen informed the team of an uptick in testing throughout the community in the wake of confirmed cases, but that general appointments with providers were in less demand. Providers remain available for primary care and preventative treatment appointments, including visits conducted via telehealth. The alternate testing site continues to conduct off-site COVID-19 testing, with Clinic staff taking extra precautions to provide a safe, decontaminated facility. Patients should follow signage to access the temporary entrance due to renovations to the main entrance and registration area.

COVID-19 testing is available in Wrangell to all patients who meet current symptomatic criteria. Please call the SEARHC COVID-19 Hotline at 907.966.8799 to schedule an appointment.

Patients with chronic illnesses, or considered high-risk, should contact their provider immediately if they show symptoms. Low-risk patients should self-isolate should they become sick. Continued adherence to virus preventive practices, as well as State and local health mandates, is highly recommended.

Visit covid19.alaska.gov, wrangellcovid19.org, and covid19.searhc.org for the latest coronavirus information, or contact the Wrangell COVID Hotline at 907.874.2684.