State of emergency persists in Nome

The Nome Common Council voted on Sept. 27 to extend the declaration of a local emergency in Nome in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new expiration date for the local emergency is Jan. 31, 2022.

The emergency declaration gives City Manager Glenn Steckman the authority to “take necessary actions to reduce the impact and spread of COVID-19 in the City of Nome.” Since the last extension in June, Steckman has not taken any such actions, though he is aware of the current COVID-19 spike in the city.

“So we’re watching this very closely and trying to make a decision. Do we require, frankly, masks in public spaces for a couple weeks to see what happens? We’re going to see what the case counts look like in the next couple of days,” Steckman said.

As of Oct. 1, Norton Sound Health Corporation has identified 40 active cases of COVID-19 in Nome. Steckman has some idea of the source of the spike.

“If I felt it was necessary, I would be taking a more aggressive approach, but I’m watching it very carefully. Eight of Nome’s cases are definitely community spread, and three to four are definitely travel,” Steckman said.

In other business, the annual fuel delivery for NJUS and Nome Public Schools began on Sept. 27 and concluded the next day, Nome Joint Utility System Assistant Manager Ken Morton reported. Fuel prices will increase, but Morton doesn’t know yet by how much.

NJUS is also replacing electric meters throughout Nome, Morton said.

“Our old electric meters delivered the signal over the power line — PLC. Power line carrier technology is no longer being supported, and we had to shift to a different platform, or start doing manual reads, which — nobody wanted to do that,” Morton said.

NJUS has the equipment on hand to replace almost 800 of the 2,300 meters that need replacement, Morton said. Morton expects the rest to arrive in December or January.

The Nome Common Council will meet next on Oct. 11.

Image at top: Nome City Council meets to discuss regular business including elections and public comments. Photo by KNOM.