Updated March 18
A staff member at the Barnstable Community Innovation School (BCIS), their spouse, and now a third person have all tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from the town of Sandwich.
“The Town now has three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our community. All direct contacts for each case in the Town of Sandwich have been notified. We expect that the virus will continue to appear throughout the region and in our community,” a statement from the Sandwich health department reads in part. “Commit to social distancing and routine handwashing; only go out when you need to. Make every effort to sustain your personal health; eat healthy food, get outside for fresh air and try to get a good night’s sleep.”
The confirmation comes two days after the BCIS staff member’s spouse, a Sandwich man in his 60s, became the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, on Cape Cod. The BCIS staff member’s last day of work was Friday, March 6, according to a statement from Barnstable schools Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown.
Mayo-Brown confirmed the positive test in a statement Sunday night. “I am writing this evening to share that the impacted member has tested positive for COVID-19,” Mayo-Brown wrote.
Based on the diagnosis, medical experts are recommending all staff and students at BCIS quarantine through March 20, the statement reads. The school advises all staff and students to watch for signs and symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and to contact their primary care physician if they experience any symptoms.
The town of Sandwich confirmed the man in his 60s was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Saturday in a statement on the town’s website.
“This afternoon, we learned that the confirmed case is a resident of the town of Sandwich, an adult male in his 60s. The town responded immediately to follow required public health protocols. All direct contacts have been notified,” the statement reads.
In a statement Saturday, Mayo-Brown confirmed the man’s spouse is a BCIS staff member, and was symptomatic and in self-quarantine. The spouse underwent testing Saturday night.
“We realize this news is unsettling, and you have my commitment that as soon as we receive more information from [the Department of Public Health], I will communicate with our [Barnstable Public Schools] community,” the statement reads.
Earlier Saturday, Cape Cod Healthcare issued a statement confirming the Cape’s first positive test of COVID-19. “On March 13, 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed the first positive case of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Barnstable County,” a press release from Cape Cod Healthcare states. “The patient was admitted to a Cape Cod Healthcare hospital with respiratory symptoms. The patient was screened following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) screening criteria. Cape Cod Healthcare consulted with the DPH, which approved the patient for COVID-19 testing. The test result was reported positive approximately 24 hours later.”
The specific hospital is not identified. Cape Cod Healthcare is the parent company of Falmouth Hospital and Cape Cod Hospital.
As of Sunday, no visitors are allowed at any Cape Cod Healthcare location, including Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital.
Other locations banning visitors are: Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod, CCHC Laboratory Services, Bourne Outpatient Center, Fontaine Outpatient Center, Rogers Outpatient Center, Stoneman Outpatient Center, Wilkens Outpatient Medical Complex, Oppenheim Medical Building, Strawberry Hill Medical Building, Clark Cancer Center, Davenport Mugar Cancer Center, Heritage at Falmouth, JML Care Center, Centers for Behavioral Health, and the Medical Affiliates of Cape Cod.
Exceptions will be made for end of life, maternity deliveries, and one parent or legal guardian per minor child who is a patient, according to Cape Cod Healthcare president and CEO Michael Lauf’s statement.
“We anticipate the virus will continue to spread widely throughout our community,” Lauf wrote in a statement. “Exceptions will be made for end of life, maternity deliveries, and one parent or legal guardian per minor child who is a patient. The intent of these revisions is to protect the health and safety of our patients, staff, and physicians.”
As of Tuesday, the state Department of Public Health reported 281 cases statewide. The Cape cases are the first reported anywhere near Martha’s Vineyard.
“The patient will remain in our care until they are stable and can return home for the remainder of the CDC recommended quarantine period of 14 days,” the release on the first confirmed case states. “All staff who came into contact with the patient are currently being monitored.”
The patient will be provided with comprehensive CDC instructions for managing care for COVID-19 at home; and the patient was referred to the DPH, which will continue to monitor the patient’s condition, according to the release.
“Cape Cod Healthcare is taking every necessary precaution to keep our patients and community safe,” said Lauf. “We strongly encourage the community to continue to educate themselves by visiting capecodhealthcare.org/coronavirus — and practice an abundance of caution and common sense during this time to limit the spread of this illness. We are ready to support the needs of our community, but we will need everyone’s help and support in this process.”
Updated to include Cape Cod Healthcare prohibiting visitors, information from the town of Sandwich and Barnstable superintendent statements, and the confirmation of three cases of COVID-19. — Ed.