Tuesday’s announcement that the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center will cease operations related to the COVID-19 pandemic on July 23 is cause for reflection.

It was back on March 3, 2020, that the Ketchikan EOC was “stood up” to start monitoring a new viral disease that had surfaced in other parts of the world but had yet to arrive in Ketchikan.

Another part of the EOC’s mission was to “provide a framework for coordinated communications, preparedness and response,” according to the Greater Ketchikan Area Joint Declaration of Local Disaster Emergency signed by the mayors of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, City of Ketchikan and City of Saxman on March 16, 2020 — the day before the first positive test result for COVID-19 in Ketchikan was confirmed.

The Ketchikan EOC has performed its appointed tasks with care and courage during the more-than 15 months since then. What we especially appreciate is the timely flow of information from the EOC to the public.

The EOC’s near daily updates about the number and types of local cases, as well as other relevant information, have provided Ketchikan and its residents with timely snapshots of the novel coronavirus’ presence (or non-presence) in the community.

This real-time availability of accurate information is truly invaluable. It provides people with a crucial tool for making decisions — decisions that in this case can affect the health and welfare of individuals and the entire Ketchikan community.

“As a general rule,” observed the British statesman and twice Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, “the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.”

And during the pandemic thus far, the best information continues to be made available by the Ketchikan EOC.

A key phrase there is: “pandemic thus far.” It would be terrific if COVID-19 had vanished, never to return.  Yet there it still lurks, with a daily average of 11,343 new cases over the past seven days in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the same time, Alaska recorded a total of 234 new cases involving residents, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services. Two positive test results were recorded in Ketchikan.

Although those numbers are indeed far lower than those seen in December and January, the virus and its opportunistic variants persist.

It’s good to know that the Ketchikan EOC will be on the job until July 23, coninuing to provide information updates on the community’s COVID-19 website at: www.kgbak.us/covid19.

And then?

Tuesday’s announcement stated that DHSS’ Ketchikan Public Health “will assume the remaining duties that the local EOC is currently conducting.”

The local COVID-19 website will have links to the State of Alaska and CDC websites where information can be found beginning on July 23, according to the announcement.

We’re familiar with the state information sources, and appreciate the range of data that becomes available. However, the state data hasn’t been as timely or precise as that provided by the EOC, and the state has been slowing how often it updates information.

We’ll be hoping for the best on July 23. Until then, we’ll thank the Ketchikan EOC for keeping Ketchikan informed.