Commentary: An open letter to the Cordova community regarding COVID-19

By Christopher Barrows
For The Cordova Times

Along with the rest of the world, the Alaska seafood industry has been coping with the fast-paced nature of the national health pandemic created by the exponential spread of the coronavirus. Like you, we are very concerned about what the coronavirus pandemic means for our families, neighbors, and livelihoods in Alaska coastal communities, and the Alaska seafood system overall, both in the short and long term.

Our primary focus is the health and safety of all of our partner communities, including Cordova, where many of our processing workers, fishermen, and their families live and work.

PSPA member Trident Seafoods operates in Cordova and has been communicating with community leadership as to their progress in mitigating risk of their operations and has committed to sharing completed plans with the city and the Emergency Management Coordinators. The safety of the residents of Cordova, fishermen and processing workers is of the utmost concern.

The state of Alaska has issued several health mandates to prevent the spread of COVID-19, several of which are directly related to travel in and out of Alaska communities. The state of Alaska has mandated a 14-day quarantine for residents, workers and visitors upon entering Alaska (Mandate 10) and prohibited in-state travel between Alaska communities (Mandate 12) unless to support critical infrastructure or for critical personal needs.

Since fishing and fish processing are considered part of the critical infrastructure workforce, workers entering the community can begin work immediately while under quarantine as long as a plan is submitted to the State of Alaska outlining how those workers will avoid the spread of COVID-19 and not endanger the communities in which they operate. To be clear, this does not mean that seafood workers coming into the community from another location are exempt from 14-day quarantine rules, only that they can work during the 14-day period while following the company’s self-isolation and COVID response plan protocols.


Seafood processors and fishing vessels are submitting plans to the State of Alaska in accordance with Health Mandates 10 and 12. These company plans are informed by medical experts and detail the measures that companies are putting in place to best achieve compliance with CDC guidelines, avoid the spread of COVID-19, and minimize risk to community residents. As our individual member companies develop response plans, their goal is to keep healthy people healthy. This means implementing screening protocols for incoming employees, detection and quarantine protocols to identify and contain any suspected case of COVID-19, new cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitation standards, and best practice for distancing standards.

Christopher Barrows is the president of Pacific Seafood Processors Association.