A Tisbury resident, a 50-year-old male, has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release from the Tisbury board of health.
“The patient is under quarantine at their Tisbury home and appears to be recovering,” the release states. “The patient’s family and close contacts have been identified, and are in self-quarantine and taking all recommended precautions.”
The release states that “in order to protect the patient’s privacy, we will not be releasing any further identifying information. Rest assured that the Tisbury board of health has followed [Centers for Disease Control] and [Department of Public Health] guidelines for tracing and isolating close contacts to prevent further spread of the illness from this particular case.”
Health agent Maura Valley said the individual arrived on the Island via the Steamship Authority. “They took a freight boat and remained in their vehicle the entire trip,” Valley wrote in an email to The Times.
Even ferry customers who stay in their vehicles receive a boarding pass upon checking in, and hand it to an SSA employee before driving onto the vessel.
Sean Driscoll, a spokesman for the Steamship Authority (SSA), wrote in a text message that ferry service has not been contacted by health officials. “I certainly would expect to hear from them if they felt there was a risk to our employees,” he said.
Jim Malkin, the Island’s representative to the SSA board, declined to comment on whether the ferry workers should have been notified. “The SSA will take all appropriate steps to protect its employees,” he said.
A worker at the house told The Times the resident was previously from New York, and came to the Island to close on a home with their partner. The worker said he was contacted by the board of health, but had no direct contact with them and, as a result, is not quarantined.
The confirmed case comes as the number of cases statewide jumped to 413 on Friday — up 85 from the previous day, according to the state Department of Public Health (DPH).
Meanwhile, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital says it still has no patients with the virus.
If a patient is suspected of having COVID-19, clinicians should immediately implement recommended infection and control practices, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Practices include limiting germs that enter the hospital, isolating symptomatic patients, and protecting healthcare personnel.
The hospital is following strict Department of Public Health guidelines for testing patients.
All testing and analysis of tests across the commonwealth is being handled by the DPH; however, the hospital can collect samples for testing onsite.
According to Katrina Delgadillo, the hospital spokesman, if someone feels ill, they should call their primary care physician.
The physician or nurse performs screening over the phone with specific questions. If those questions result in the physician thinking that the patient may be a good candidate to meet the state’s requirements for testing, the physician works with the state epidemiologist to determine next steps.
If approved by the state, that patient may be tested at the hospital. They will then send the test kit with the patient’s samples to the state lab for processing.
Also on Thursday, Mansion House announced in a Facebook post that it was closing as a result of concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
“As of today we are not taking any reservations. We are very concerned about our year-round employees. We are helping in every way we can,” the post reads. “For those who live in employee housing, we assured them that their housing did not depend on showing up. Many will continue to work as we gear up for when we reopen. We hope that is sooner than later.”
The State House News Service reported 17,000 hotel jobs in Massachusetts have been lost as a result of the pandemic so far.
Earlier in the week, Gov. Charlie Baker ordered dine-in restaurants and bars to shut down, forcing Island restaurants to either move to takeout service or close. Other small businesses have followed.
Restaurateur J.B. Blau, who owns Copper Wok, two Sharky’s Cantinas, M.V. Chowder Co., and the Loft, was one of many restaurant owners who made the switch to takeout only, but late Thursday night, Blau announced on his Facebook page he would be closing all his restaurants for the indefinite future, beginning on March 21 at 9 pm.
“I am growing increasingly worried about my staff, our guests, and the M.V. community. Takeout sales have allowed us to keep some people employed, and your generosity has been awe-inspiring. But the time to close is here,” Blau wrote in a post. He added that all staff in employee housing will not have to pay rent during the shutdown.
The restaurant industry makes up 10 percent of the Massachusetts workforce — not including vendors that supply those restaurants. Steve Clark, director of government affairs at the Massachusetts Restaurant Association (MRA) told The Times the MRA didn’t have a number on how many employees had been laid off, but did say the number was high.
“It’s a lot,” Clark said. “Many places are closed. Essentially you have the entire ecosystem on pause.”
Tisbury Police are taking precautions of their own, limiting the number of contacts members of the public have with officers from a safe distance.
A police officer will be stationed in the downstairs lobby from 8 am to 6 pm. After 6 pm, the station door will be locked, and people will have to ring the buzzer for assistance.
Gov. Baker activated the Massachusetts National Guard on Thursday, planning to use up to 2,000 members for “logistical support and other assistance,” the State House News Service reported. The Guard will be used to respond to local and state requests for equipment, logistics, warehousing, and other duties, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the Island’s Registry of Motor Vehicles office remains closed. “The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) opened eight service centers on March 18 that remain the only locations open, and the Martha’s Vineyard property is not one of them,” Judith Riley, a spokeswoman for the RMV, wrote. “The eight centers were opened after an evaluation that prioritizes, in part, ADA features, facility size, and capacity. The RMV extended the deadlines for customers that have some credentials, and encourages people to check online, as more than 40 transactions can be done without coming in: mass.gov/RMV.”