Suspected coronavirus case in Tisbury

Today’s roundup: Hospital continues testing, state eyes 3,500 tests per day by next week.

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Restaurants and other small businesses closed as a result of coronavirus could be eligible for low-interest loans. - Lexi Pline

Updated March 19, 5:40 pm

The Tisbury board of health has been notified of a suspected case of COVID-19, according to town Health Agent Maura Valley.

Valley confirmed the suspected case was a Tisbury property owner and said all close contacts and family members had been notified and are self-isolating. 

“We have reached out to close contacts,” Valley told The Times in a phone conversation. “We wanted to let the public know.”

Valley added that more information would be provided as it comes available.

At a Chilmark board of selectmen meeting Thursday, Edgartown health agent Matt Poole referenced the Tisbury case.

“I think it’s pretty safe to say there are several cases in the pipeline here locally that are going to surface as positives. Good likelihood I am underestimating what has surfaced today. It’s not official yet, but there is absolutely a positive in Vineyard Haven related to a traveller to the Island from out of state that came here to purchase real estate and now has an attorney’s office with some folks quarantined,” Poole said in part at the meeting. “One patient at the hospital, and Tisbury has been very on top of addressing everyone that was involved in that. Good news is that is an isolated pocket and is not someone who has woven into our community. The numbers don’t really reflect what is arriving at the various healthcare facilities Island or statewide.”

The suspected case comes as confirmed cases in Massachusetts jumped to 328 as of Thursday afternoon.

Loans available, childcare centers close

Massachusetts has received approval as an economic disaster relief area by the Small Business Association (SBA), according to state Rep. Dylan Fernandes.

Small businesses, many of them closed, or in the case of restaurants, serving a limited number of patrons, affected by COVID-19 are now eligible for low-interest loans. Restaurants and bars were ordered to close by Gov. Charlie Baker, and others have decided to close on their own to keep employees safe and heed the warnings of health officials about social distancing to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Affected businesses are encouraged to apply. The SBA can be contacted by calling 800-659-2955, or by email at disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

The loans could help Island businesses suffering from closures stay afloat. 

Restaurants in particular are being hit hard. On the Island, J.B. Blau recently laid off 75 employees so they could start collecting unemployment. He’s also offering them free meals and interest-free loans.

Fernandes has said Island businesses should also apply for the $10 million in small business relief the state has set aside.

On Wednesday, Baker announced all early education and family childcare providers must close by March 23, according to the State House News Service. Instead, they’ll be replaced by emergency centers that focus on the needs of families on the front lines of fighting the novel coronavirus, like first responders and hospital workers.

Elizabeth Bonifacio, director of First Light Child Development Center, told The Times in an email the decision to close the school was a hard one. First Light closed on March 13.

“When doing so, we took into consideration the hardship some parents would face not having childcare, due to our closure, but ultimately felt the health and safety of the students, staff, and their families were of higher priority,” Bonifacio wrote.

All tuition paid for the weeks the school was closed would be credited to parents as soon as they reopen.

While the school is required to close, Bonifacio says they are “blessed” to stay connected through FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom. 

She is also staying in close contact with each family, and is making short learning videos with activities and games parents can play with their children. The videos, instructions, and photos are available on First Light’s Facebook page. In addition to the videos, she’s working on a time for parents to join a Facetime chat so her oldest daughter, Wren, 10, can read books to the preschool students.

“This has brought great joy to everyone. I love all the families at First Light, and want them to feel connected and supported through this uncertain time,” Bonifacio said.

A previous order had excluded daycares and preschools from closure, but they will now be required to close in five days. Providers that must close under the order will continue to receive their regular subsidy payments from the state to ensure they can reopen once the state of emergency Baker declared last week is lifted, according to the State House News Service.

The state has conducted over 2,200 tests since testing began three weeks ago. By the beginning of next week, state officials want to see 3,500 tests conducted every day, according to State House News Service.

On Thursday, state officials toured Quest Diagnostics in Marlborough.

“We believe that over the course of the next several days and weeks, there will be an enormous increase in the amount of testing that takes place on a daily basis here in the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Baker told State House News Service. It “can’t happen fast enough, but I do believe that with the pivots and the adjustments that are being made by organizations like Quest here in Marlborough and by many of our hospital partners, and by the state lab and other organizations, we will get to the point where we’re doing the amount of testing every day that we believe that we need to be doing.”

Peter Pan Bus service is making cancellations on a day-to-day basis. Several Thursday and Friday trips from Woods Hole to Boston and Falmouth to Boston have been canceled.

Meanwhile, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is continuing to test anyone who meets strict Department of Public Health criteria for the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

Starting Thursday, Martha’s Vineyard Bank is also taking precautions, and has closed its lobbies to the public. People are still able to use the drive-through locations in Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Falmouth. ATMs are also accessible at all bank locations. For in-person meetings, the bank asks for people to call and schedule an appointment.

In a press release Thursday, communications director Katrina Delgadillo wrote the hospital is redeploying staff between departments to meet community needs. 

“We have created a triage area at the entrance of the Emergency Room (ER) for patients with respiratory symptoms. Upon arrival at the ER, you may be escorted to an alternative clinical space for your safety if you have non-COVID-19 related symptoms. Signage and a triage nurse will help guide you on-site,” she wrote.

As of Thursday morning, there are 256 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health reported.

The release also reminded people to call their primary care physician if they are sick or believe they have been exposed to COVID-19. People with scheduled outpatient appointments at the hospital should call ahead to the specific department and confirm their appointment.

“Continue to practice social distancing, washing your hands, and follow guidelines from your federal, state, and local officials. Please do not be cavalier about this. These practices will save lives,” Delgadillo wrote.

Updated to include quotes from Matt Poole and First Light, information from MV Bank, and state testing. — Ed.

28 COMMENTS

  1. This is not correct, when you call the SBA number it directs you to the website, when you sign into the website it says that Dukes County is not in the Disaster Zone and clicks you out of it’s site. If anyone has other information , please share it. I think it’s because Gov. Baker has not declared an emergency in Massachusetts, any more info on this ??

  2. Brian-i don’t think you waited to say that there was a CONFIRMED case -only a possible suspected case-but the Thursday Minute Subject line in the email states just that-Thanks

    • The story and headline are accurate. Brian had nothing to do with writing the subject line, which meant to say we had confirmed a case. Sorry if you think it’s misleading. Story and headline are accurate.

  3. I read this around 5:00 pm (from your 4:30 posting) and was about to comment that it is unfortunate that the Times & a health agent felt it important to report on a “suspected” case… there’s already enough fear and sadness being felt here. However, it looks like the article was updated at 5:40, which I’m just noticing now, and I’m sorry for everyone on our island (and planet) who are personally on the front lines and/or getting sick.

    I do appreciate the pieces of the article about preschools (love Elizabeth!) and banks, other closures, etc.
    By the way, Mass.gov’s website today (Thurs) said 328 confirmed cases in Mass, not 256. Is it possible for our MV news sources to double-check their facts, then sit on an article for 15 minutes to just breathe before pressing upload?

    • The story says 328 cases. An earlier version had 256 because if you go to the DPH website, you’ll see the state updates the figures at around 4 pm. This story changes hour to hour and we’re keeping up with it. When the story changes, we are transparent and let you know it was updated. Thanks for reading.

  4. Here is just a little comment about keeping our community safe.
    Ten days ago, I was on 2 planes flying from Barbados to Boston, through Miami.
    many people were wiping down everything– I appreciated that, as the planes were likely getting cleaner because hundreds of passengers were disinfecting their temporary social space.
    of course, they were doing that to protect themselves, but they were also providing a community service by killing the germs left by the person before them, and leaving the space better for the person behind them.
    So, I have a container of disinfectant wipes that live in my car. When I leave my vehicle, i put one in my pocket. if I have to touch a door handle to enter a building, i use the wipe. Not only do I use it to protect myself, I take a little extra time ( about 4 seconds ) to thoroughly wipe down the entire handle, to kill whatever the person before me left, and I know the person behind me will touch a clean surface.
    It’s a little thing that doesn’t take much effort, but if everyone makes a small effort to sanitize our public surfaces, it could make a difference.
    I was a bit discourage though, as I paused for a few minutes after i did that at the V.H post office to observe people using that door.
    I watched 12 people enter. Two hit the handicapped opener with their elbow, 5 wrapped their sleeve around their hand, or had some sort of cloth to not touch it. Five people wrapped their bare hand around it.

    By the way, Barbados, which has really been on this from the beginning, reported it’s first 2 cases of Covid 19 on march 17– Both from people arriving from the United States.
    The day before I returned to my country, trump tweeted;
    “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant. Surgeon General, “The risk is low to the average American.”
    I am embarrassed by a comment like this coming from the top official in my country, but i am not ashamed. I don’t usually criticize an entire group of people as that is stereotyping, but I will make an exception here, and say that i feel the supporters of Donald J Trump are responsible for at least 50 % of the deaths that will occur in this country. The other 50 % are due to the forces of nature, and the unchecked and unregulated expansion of the sapiens population and their irresponsible disregard for the environmental health of our planet.

    • dondondon. ”Trump supporters are responsible for 50 percent of the deaths in this country” Mr Brennan you and the MV Times ought to censure this kind of comment if you are going to censure climate skeptic comments. Dondondon did you leave some of your IQ back in Barbados?

      • I believe the word is censor. This is his opinion. Climate deniers and coronavirus deniers are questioning science. There’s a distinction.

        • Mr Brennan, I am sticking to the word ”censure” as appropriate. You should censure dondondon for his provocative and unfounded criticism. If I were to say that 50 percent of the liberals in this country caused the deaths of people from coronavirus, I am certain you would censure me.

          • The moderators don’t censure. Our comments can be censored by one of the moderators if a comment doesn’t fit the guidelines of this forum. You absolutely used the word (censure) incorrectly, and you did it more than once on here. Instead of pretending that you didn’t, learn how to use your words more intelligently. Opinions are allowed, even the awful opinions of cult religions. You can even make disgusting bets on how many Americans are going to die in this Trumpvirus.

            “andrew March 8, 2020 at 6:34 am
            Dondondon. You are always asking me to wager on things. You who politicize the virus and blame it on Trump and exaggerate it beyond proportion, I will now ask you to make a bet with me for one thousand dollars. How about 1000 people in the US die from Coronavirus, Small number since this is a pandemic. If we dont reach that threshold you pay me. You wont take that bet because you know its not gonna happen. As for Trump being a ”complete idiot” will you soon be concerned with Biden’s diminished mental capacity and cognitive decline.? I promise you the 1000 dollars if I lose. I will chase you on your non CO2 spewing bicycle and hand you the money.”

      • Andrew– while I am at , I will express my opinion that trump supporters are currently and will be responsible going forward for the worst effects of climate change. Thousands, if not millions of people will die as a direct consequence of the trump regime’s ignorant policies and continued denial of anthropomorphically induced climate change.

      • Andrew– I did not leave my IQ in Barbados– I am letting people know what i experienced. I arrived in a country near the beginning of this crisis, and was a first hand witness to the way a government should handle such a situation. They were on it from the beginning– As of march 21 , they have 6 cases– 2 of them are Americans, arriving directly from the U.S, 2 are Barbadians who recently returned from the U.S, and 2 of unknown nationality are on a cruise ship.

    • Well there you have it folks. Straight from the mouth of the ultimate authority. Coming up next, he’ll tell you about his latest diet of the day that will cure the virus and that will be the last diet you’ll ever need (that is, until tomorrow). BTW, Donx3…what in the HEdoublehockeysticks, were you even thinking when getting on an airplane at this time….oh, wait a minute, I know…it’s all about you…what if there is a huge uptick in confirmed cases on Barbados and then on MV….can we blame you for 50%? Just shut up and try to control your severe case of TDS!

      • TQ –my “severe case of TDS” is quite under control.
        I have never suggested any dietary guidelines, with the possible suggestion of eating organic.
        Why do you mention that ? Some effort to somehow slander me ? Or portray me as some sort of kook ? you can do better. Try again.
        Interesting that you tow the line, which is to tell everyone what I am thinking, even though you are clueless about my thoughts.
        Perhaps it’s just a co incidence that trump is being contradicted by real medical professionals about his boast that he will get new meds into the system.
        I suggest, you do not follow his advice about what drugs to eat..
        But since you bring up diets, how about having some organic pasta with home made pesto made from organically grown basil, garlic,and cilantro from your very own organic garden ? It may not cure covid 19 , but it is certainly better for you than an antibiotic saturated slab of meat from an animal that was abused and suffered from the moment it was born.
        Peace, love and pasta will get us through this mess.
        Ramen

  5. Confirmed a suspected case? What does that mean? Then, there is absolutely a positive? It’s confusing.

  6. Don Don maybe it’s not Donald J Trump or his supporters maybe it’s people like you flying to Barbados then flying back from Barbados through Miami to Boston then coming to the Vineyard because they feel the need to take a vacation during a health crisis. Just maybe?

    • Hugged– the day before I left the united states, trump said ” all 15 cases would miraculously go away.”
      the day before I returned he said “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant. Surgeon General, “The risk is low to the average American.” — And you somehow find cause to blame me ?
      I booked this trip in October of 1019—
      i wouldn’t fly today– your comment about me going on vacation while the official government line was that the corona virus was a liberal B.S plot to hurt trump is l a hypocritical pile of bs at best–
      Sorry that you don’t have the money to go anywhere but wall mart.

  7. Jackie this (should) mean that “yes”, there is a SUSPECTED case, not that there is a CONFIRMED positive case.
    Not that this should matter…social distancing, compulsive hygiene, and common sense are still the orders of the day.
    Chaos, extreme fear, and lack of courtesy are not warranted.
    Serious problem ? Yes. The end of the world as we know it ? Not likely.
    Silver lining ? A great equalizer….doesn’t matter your color, religion, sexuality, politics, or socioeconomic status. Visitor, wash ashore, native, Native American. As we socially distance, we’re all more connected than we’ve been for quite sometime. It’s an opportunity to mend, forgive, and look forward.

  8. Anyone wanting to take a vacation during this time, just don’t…..just take the financial loss of your trip, stay home and stay safe for everyone’s sake!
    As far as the person who traveled here from out of state and you are possibly sick?? Think of your actions and how many people you might have potentially infected!
    Everyone should just stay here and don’t go off island unless it’s an absolute emergency and the same goes for the off island people. I don’t care if you have owned a house here for decades or if you pay a ton of taxes here….just stay home until the crisis is over and then it will be open arms for any and all to come and go as they please here on the island.
    All of the traveling is how this disease has made it way to our shores, our states and our hometowns.

    • What about the island natives who came back here from their Florida vacations? or the Islanders who travelled off island to Boston and NYC for shopping, recreation, or medical needs? Or the college kids who came home from their closed schools in the infected areas? Each and every one of these groups has the same opportunity to infect you… perhaps more so than some ‘off island’ people who choose to come up here and use their property, and stay on that property.. (coming here from off-island to ‘bug out’ is foolish due to lack of medical resources and fewer shopping options than off island).

  9. “And the property deed will be for you for a sign upon the houses where you will be, and I will see that you own property and skip over you, and there will be no virus to destroy you when I smite the people of the land of Martha’s Vineyard. The Lord will pass over the entrance, and The Lord will not permit the virus to enter your summer houses to smite you.” ( Passover is just around the corner.)

    • REALLY, Bulkington? A little blood libel to go with an anti-Semitic trope? Do you even know what you’re saying? I surely hope not.

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