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Unalaska And Industry Prepare For Coronavirus Pandemic

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Industry, and Unalaska, are continuing to adjust to the new realities of coronavirus. While there are still no confirmed cases in Unalaska—on Monday, the city increased its risk level to "high." In a press release, the city explained that the new level was in response to "confirmed community spread of the virus in Anchorage."


Chris Plaisance, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at UniSea, said that the company is "not flying any new processors into Unalaska at this time and don’t plan on sending any up in the near future."


Under UniSea policy, anyone who must be flown into Unalaska—full-time workers, like plant management—are screened in Anchorage and then required to self-isolate for 14 days once they arrive in the city.  


UniSea does not offer paid sick leave for processors. 


Meanwhile, all processors in town are part of an industry-wide coronavirus task force. It also includes Unalaska city employees and Iliuliuk Family and Health Services (IFHS) staff. The task force creates industry-wide guidelines to help processors, big boats, and other fishing companies understand how to respond to the virus. But in the end, each company must make its own decisions on new, corona-protocol.  


Melanee Tiura, CEO of IFHS, said the processors are working with the city and the clinic to create new quarantine spaces. 


"[The processors'] plans are solid. They've got quarantine spaces available," said Tiura. "We are also working on a site within the community for anyone who tests positive to have access to, though we will still recommend self-isolation at home as much as possible. But for industry, if it exceeds the capacity of their local rooms that they’ve designated, there is a space available for community or for industry members."


As Industry begins to prepare for cases, Unalaskans should also be ready for the virus. Tiura said that one of the best things community members can do to prepare for an outbreak on-island is to make sure their medevac insurance is in order. 


"Our evacuation plans for IFHS for those who have critical needs would go out via medevac. So this is an important time for everyone to make sure they have their medevac insurance," said Tiura. "Those aren't the things you want to do at the last minute."


Tiura says that Unalaskans should get both LifeMed and Guardian insurance policies if they can. 


"Those are the two medevac companies that cover our island, and so it will depend on who's available," said Tiura. "When it comes to saving lives, it ends up falling to who can get here the fastest."


IFHS requests that anyone planning to go to the clinic call ahead.

Caroline reported for KUCB in 2020.
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