Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
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Hope McKenney

News Director

Born in rural Northern California, Hope started as a reporter and producer at KZYX in Mendocino County. She then worked at Kichwa Hatari — the first Quechua language radio station in the U.S., based in New York — and KQED in San Francisco. 

She has lived in Bolivia, Peru, and Cuba, and is now excited to cover the beautiful Aleutians. 

  • The number of Northern fur seals in the Bering Sea has dropped by around 70% since the 1970s — and researchers haven’t been sure exactly why; the COVID-19 crisis continues at Alaska’s largest hospital, a week after Providence Alaska Medical Center announced it’s begun rationing health care; and more than 50 people have died in commercial aviation accidents in Alaska since 2016.
  • Unalaska’s local risk factor has increased to “substantial” due to a rise in local COVID-19 cases.Since Friday, the city has reported 12 new cases of the virus. This brings the island’s total to 27 active community cases, up from 18 last week. There are also 20 industry cases currently in quarantine, according to city officials.
  • A Japanese Navy training ship stopped over in Dutch Harbor on Sunday, as part of its overseas training cruise; Unalaska will soon have seven functioning tsunami sirens; and Unalaska’s local risk factor has increased to “substantial” due to a rise in local COVID-19 cases.
  • Last month, representatives from Unalaska traveled to the interior to give a presentation on the Makushin Geothermal Project; in today’s climate, the Aleutian Islands are the windiest area in Alaska, but not for long; and a story from the archives about Unalaskans' donations following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
  • In a contentious City Council meeting Tuesday, councilors voted to keep Unalaska’s current mask mandate in place for the next two weeks; doctors who work at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage said Tuesday that they’ve begun to ration care as Alaska endures one of the worst surges of COVID-19 in the country; and the U.S. Coast Guard reported encountering Chinese warships within 50 miles of the Aleutian Islands this past August during patrols in the Arctic and Bering Sea.
  • Nearly nine months after Adak reported its first case of COVID-19, the nation’s westernmost city is seeing a spike in infections.
  • The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced earlier this month that all major crab stocks are down. And for the first time in over 25 years, the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery will be closed.
  • Ravn Alaska’s new nonstop aircraft touched down for the first time in Unalaska Monday.The Dash 8-300 left Anchorage just before 7 a.m. and landed in Unalaska around 10 a.m. with about 35 passengers on board.
  • Alaska residents have another reason to get vaccinated against COVID-19: a chance to win $49,000 each week; a new study published this week may have an answer to why Northern fur seal populations in the eastern Bering Sea have been declining; and city facilities are reopening for normal operating hours starting Thursday, in light of a recent drop in the local COVID-19 risk level.
  • The Unalaska City Council voted Tuesday to keep the island’s current mask mandate in place.Over the past month, the city has experienced its largest surge of community-acquired COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, and city councilors remain cautious as hospitals in Anchorage near capacity.