Businesses exempted from the state’s travel restrictions have to file mitigation plans with the state. These plans detail how they’ll keep their workers from spreading coronavirus to a community. So far more than 20 businesses submitted these plans to Wrangell city officials. But as KSTK’s June Leffler reports, the details are being kept tightly under wraps.
The COVID-19 mitigation plans provided to Wrangell range from construction companies bringing in carpenters, fishing vessels with crew and Sea Level’s seafood processor — one of the largest employers of seasonal workers from outside.
Wrangell Mayor Steve Prysunka says he’s been kept in the loop — but he hasn’t personally seen any of the plans’ contents.
“That’s not really my job,” Prysunka says. “We have people that are reviewing them.”
Not that the city has much leverage. The decision on whether the plans would adequately screen, quarantine and protect workers is a call made by state officials.
“We don’t have a final say or give a stamp of approval,” Prysunka says.
He says city staff are taking the initiative to raise any red flags.
“We’re just trying to help people navigate from a helpful standpoint and make some local suggestions which are voluntary,” he says.
Assembly member David Powell says that’s besides the point. He wants to know what is happening in his community.
“Why would we want to see that plan? What if it involves 50 to 60 people coming to town and we don’t know about it,” Powell says.
While city officials have said the plans are only in draft form, there’s no indication the city would release those plans to assembly members and the public.
Powell has so far pushed — unsuccessfully — for Wrangell to set its own COVID-19 restrictions. The state says Wrangell can’t do that, at least without the governor’s approval. But at least, Powell says, there should be some transparency.
“There should be nothing behind closed doors on something like that,” Powell says.
The city denied KSTK’s records request seeking a copy of Sea Level’s COVID-19 mitigation plan: the processor has said it plans to bring about 30 seasonal workers to Wrangell in June.
In a memo responding to the records request, the borough’s attorney said the Seattle company views its mitigation plan as “confidential” under state and federal law. He did not elaborate but recommended the city not release the document.
A footnote of the denial says “If CBW [the City and Borough of Wrangell] were to unilaterally release the business plan it would interfere with the CBW’s ability to receive additional business plans.”
KSTK has appealed the city’s denial seeking access to the fish processor’s COVID-19 mitigation plan.