Schepici: ‘Just shocking’ to see masks not worn

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 hit 17; state puts new protocols on nursing facilities.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 climbed to 17 Tuesday. — Lexi Pline.

Updated 6:30 pm

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 climbed to 17 Tuesday as the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has started canceling some summer events and continues to call on the public to take precautions against the virus.

“This is an insidious virus with no boundaries,” hospital CEO Denise Schepici said Tuesday. “I was shocked and dismayed when I saw workers coming off the boat…at least half a dozen people didn’t have masks on. Shocking to me, just shocking.”

Schepici had asked for a delay in reopening job sites on the Island and reached a compromise. The Island boards of health and building departments began allowing one- and two-person crews to go back to work Monday with protocols in place.

While HyLine Cruise has mandated masks for travel on its ferries, the Steamship Authority hasn’t done so. 

SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll told The Times HyLine is a private company and has more control over its passengers than the Steamship Authority does as a public transportation service.

“It’s our position we cannot order mask usage onboard without an order from the governor or the U.S. Coast Guard,” Driscoll said. 

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Schepici reiterated that people should continue social-distancing and wear masks to avoid spreading the virus. “I still look at everyone as an asymptomatic carrier and we are kidding ourselves if we don’t think that way,” Shepici said.

Schepici said the hospital has tested 376 patients for COVID-19. Of those, 356 are negative and 3 are pending results. 

In an email after the conference call, communications director Katrina Delgadillo confirmed that one of the confirmed COVID-19 patients transferred to Boston due to health complications has died “due to medical complications not proven to be related to COVID-19,” according to Delgadillo.

That patient is one of three who have been transferred off-Island. Two “quite sick” COVID-19 patients were transported to Boston by helicopter and a third maternity patient was taken off-Island by ferry in a private vehicle. 

The hospital reported on Friday that it had one patient who was hospitalized. Hospital communications director Katrina Delgadillo told The Times the patient had been discharged on Saturday in “stable condition.”

Of the 376 people tested, Claire Seguin, chief nursing and operations officer, said approximately 60 were healthcare workers and first responders.

According to the Martha’s Vineyard boards of health, of the 17 confirmed cases, nine are female and eight are male. Seven of the cases are aged 50-59 years old, five cases are 60-69 years old, two are 30-39 years old, two are 20-29 years old, and one is 20 years old or younger.

She stressed that workers be vigilant, wear masks, and adhere to proper social distancing protocols.

The hospital added to the growing list of canceled summer events by calling off three fundraising events: the Windemere auction, the 34th annual Golf Tournament, and the Sullivan 5K.

On the state level Tuesday, the Department of Public Health reported that 254,500 COVID-19 tests had been conducted, with 58,302 confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide. There were 150 new deaths for a total of 3,153. The bulk of the state’s deaths, nearly two thirds, have been patients 80 or older and the average age of a hospitalized COVID-19 patient is 69. According to the state data, 7 percent of the confirmed cases are hospitalized. 

The Centers for Disease Control expanded its list of symptoms for the virus including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and a new loss of taste or smell.

Nursing facilities across the state are being hit especially hard by COVID-19 with over 10,031 confirmed cases. Baker said more than half of the state’s deaths from the disease were occurring among residents and staff of nursing facilities. None of the cases on Martha’s Vineyard have involved Windemere.

The state is putting together a team of 120 nurses and nursing assistants to deploy in teams of 10 to nursing facilities in emergency situations. New care criteria is also being set up which would include mandatory testing of staff and residents, adherence to PPE, and a control check-list.

By the end of the week, $130 million in funding will be made available for nursing homes to pay for staff, cleaning, and PPE.

Schepici didn’t know how much funding Windemere could get, but said the hospital is looking into it.

Updated with comments from SSA, boards of health, and current DPH numbers. -ed


  1. Wearing a mask and social distancing is not hard….no work for a month is hard. I think people feel safer here than they would in Boston….but we have to be safe or we are going to be (construction) shut down again. I wish there was someone at the boat when people disembark and they would call people out that don’t wear a mask.

    • Be proud.
      Be an American.
      Be at the boat and scream obscenities at people whose behaviour you find unacceptable.
      And at the Black Dog too.
      When and If (sarc) they ever open again.

  2. People are worrying about those with out of state licenses who come here to shelter and be careful? Tradespeople need to look to yourselves for what you’ve advocated. Sadly, it’s not shocking that some tradespeople are ignoring safety precautions. What’s shocking is that anyone on the island thought they would ALL be compliant, especially those coming over on the ferry each day or those who sprinkle their language with words like “liberate”. Apologies to those many workers who are vigilent, but you should know enough about your fellow workers to know this would happen. Islanders working in the trades should have advocated strongly and loudly to keep these job sites shuttered until the surge is over and state cases are safely declining. Listen to the medical experts, for heavens sakes! But too many tradespeople basically bullied those who should (and do) know better into giving in to their loud and selfish demands. Wear your masks and social distance!

  3. i don’t get it either. people are making masks, i know some people who are giving out free masks. maybe masks and gloves should be provided on the boat. actually i believe they should try and enforce social distancing on the boats and maybe not letting people disembark unless they are wearing a mask. i just don’t understand how some people expect to come over on the boat, make a lot more money than they would on the mainland and at the same time not give a fig about the health or lives of the people who live here.

  4. First, where are these masks we are supposed to be wearing. Im not aware of a listing in this paper where the masks are available. List a place where I can get them (hopefully at no cost ) and Ill pick up a few. Second dont expect anyone to wear a mask out in public. Inside the steamship,inside stores and other places are fine. With pre existing conditions I can barely breath in one. I wont be flying anytime soon.

    • redsoxetc fan, i do get what you’re saying. i too, get uncomfortable wearing a mask for a while. i use what i consider common sense and consideration of others. i wear a mask when going into the kind of social situation that could bring me closer to others. certainly the steamship would be one – especially entering and exiting. i wear a mask when i go to a grocery store. i take it off in my car and i don’t wear a mask when going for a walk. i’m sure you understand the purpose of wearing a mask these days is mostly to protect others. i’m not a nut case. really.

    • Even wearing a bandana, scarf, or t-shirt over your mouth and nose will help those of us in the general public keep from spreading the virus or getting it.

    • You can make a mask out of a sock if you wanted to. You obviously have access to the internet. Google it.

  5. It’s what I feared. The trades people talk a good game but don’t follow through. To see how few wore masks was disappointing but not a surprise. I agree with the hospital CEO on this.

    • There are construction people complying, me and the company I work for are complying. All it will take is for job sites to get shut down and the non-compliant will start complying. As far as the off island commuters….unless someone greets them at the boat with a mask and tells them they have to wear it to ride and disembark, they won’t all do it. I personally don’t understand that type of thinking. I am healthy with no underlying medical but I wear a mask everytime I leave my house. I would personally hate to think that I could maybe get someone sick because I was selfish.

      • One would think the SSA would want to protect their employees and their customers by requiring a facial covering. Do they really need a governor’s proclamation to do so?

  6. Rules should be applied equally. All I see is rules put on and enforced on construction workers, what about the other 15,000 residents of the Island? You can’t say construction workers must wear mask, but not enforce the same rule on homeowners or visitors? I have no problem with rules, but let’s not single out just the construction workers.

    • I see your point, pubic trust, especially when the VP of the United States, head of the pandemic task force, ignores the rules of the medical clinic he visited today, and faiiled to wear a mask. What a fine example it is when feckless leaders set guidelines for rules that they then do not follow. Their irresponsibly dangerous behaviors trickle down to small communites like ours, where people are just trying to make a living. I get it. If Pence won’t wear a mask and flouts the rules, why should you? If only we had a nationwide plan and leadership and somewhere trustworthy to turn for guidance. I still say, though, look to the medical experts like Fauci and even our hospital. Goveror Cuomo from NY has very real daily briefings and he seems to have a consistent grasp of the science on how best to move forward with reopenings with precautions, care, and patience.

      • Seriously Jackie, do you really think that the President and the Vice President and everyone around or anyone they may come in contact with is not tested daily?

    • You make a valid point, if we can’t get people who are living on the island to wear masks when out and about. What’s going to happen when the entitled come down during the summer months, how’s that going to work. We’re going to have someone drive around and enforce them to wear masks. I do wear a mask when I’m out and about and it’s for those times. When I come across the unexpected person, I know that at least my mask is on. It’s too late to reach for the mask, that’s tucked away in your back pocket, by then ,you’ve possibly contracted the virus.

      • “entitled” – as in “holding the title to”, or “holding a legal claim to”. In other words, the true owners of a thing or place.

      • Do you own a small business or provide a service that benefits from these “entitled”? Maybe you could publish the name so that these folks will know to “keep out”.

  7. Agree with CEO Schepici, insidious! we watched 36-40 pedestrians disembark the 7:00 AM boat in VH this AM. Only eight wore any type of face covering. There were not 35 empty cars parked in the lot any many got into vehicles with drivers. So much for one worker one vehicle to the job site… Delivery trucks with two men in the cab and no evidence of protection. Locally I have found no resistance to the back to work requirements why do these people get to ignore them and possibly bring the virus to us ?

    • ever ride the patriot boat on the “commuter runs”? or any time of day for that matter. there IS no room for social distancing.

  8. Let’s say it’s absolutely true that everyone who comes in contact with the president and VP is tested 15 minutes before coming in contact, positively ensuring that there is no chance of virus exposure to the Prez and vp. Then why must the Prez and VP continue to get frequent tests? More important, why set such lousy examples to people who feel it’s an imposition on their rights to have to cover their face? What kind of leader says to the public, “Do as I say, not as I do”?

    • Donald J. Trump is ‘The Best President This Country Has Ever Had’.
      In only three short years Trump has managed to pull us out of ‘The Obama Recession’.

  9. Walking today I passed by twelve work sites and over a half dozen landscaper jobs, none had both workers with masks, one job site had a delivery and there was eight workers no masks and two of them smoking and standing together, this is not working and will not work we are before our spike and I am afraid it is going to shock and leave many of us in grief

  10. It’s amazing how quickly we have gone from this: “people shouldn’t wear face masks to prevent the spread of the infectious illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. surgeon general.” (March 2, 2020, to: “I was shocked and dismayed when I saw workers coming off the boat…at least half a dozen people didn’t have masks on. Shocking to me, just shocking.” (MV hospital CEO Denise Schepici on April 27 — or better yet, the administrator of a very popular facebook group catering to Islanders (ill give you a hint it rhymes with Mylander Falk) who scolded and threatened to publicly expose and even turn into police anybody who dared to be be seen outside without a mask. So quickly how things change and nobody even bats an eye (or seems to notice or care)

    • We were told not to wear masks because our healthcare workers needed them. This country was and still is woefully unprepared with enough personal protective equipment. The best n95 masks were so scarce that less effective masks were used. The public was told not to use these masks to save them for frontline workers. It’s obvious that wearing a mask protects you and anyone you come in contact with.

      • That’s just simply not true. This is from a tweet from the U.S. Surgeon General I’m early March: “STOP BUYING MASKS!” “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus. Facts are pesky things, you can get annoyed at them all you want but they are, in the end, still facts.

        • It’s always been common sense that some sort of face covering is better than nothing. Some countries is Asia have been using publicly using face masks for decades. Bandanas and flimsy masks are barely better than nothing for preventing spread of the virus, but still, wouldn’t you rather a person sneeze into a mask or come covering, than directly in your face? The recommendations were because all N95 masks were needed for medical personnel. The recommendations were always questioned by the science community. No sense in being hard-nosed about the reality of how things have developed. Trump also told us this would go away, like a miracle. It’s a fact that he said that. But it’s not true and people who use their brains knew it then and know it now. When something makes sense, it’s because it’s sensible. When something does not make sense, it is usually because it’s nonsense. Wear a mask in public.

        • Masks do not provide the public with perfect protection, but they’re needed. There’s room for error when it comes to putting them on, and the fit and material used will vary, meaning so will the success rate. But it’s not a complicated thing. If every sneeze, cough, and breath is at least somewhat contained and redirected, rather than being launched directly at others or landing all over shared surfaces, yes, that is going to help. They may also keep people from touching dirty surfaces and then accidentally touching their faces, though we have to remember to sanitize reusable masks. That was another reason for the SG’s original warning. You left out a portion of his comments on the matter:

          “You can increase your risk of getting it by wearing a mask if you are not a health care provider,” Adams said. “Folks who don’t know how to wear them properly tend to touch their faces a lot and actually can increase the spread of coronavirus.”

          So it’s not that masks aren’t helpful. It’s that he doesn’t trust people to be safe about using them. And I still think Jackie is right. People were panic-buying everything, including masks. The government had to discourage it somehow when our workers needed them most. Just be smart about wearing them and they’re helpful.

  11. Kind of like how we went from lets Flatten the Curve — as defined in a March 19 CNBC article as “stagger(ing) the number of new cases over a longer period, so that people have better access to care” … “In contrast to a steep rise of coronavirus infections, a more gradual uptick of cases will see the same number of people get infected, but without overburdening the health-care system at any one time.” has turned into: “COVID-19 will be here for the next 18 months or more. We will not be able to return to normalcy until we find a vaccine or effective medications,” said Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel to MSNBC on April 7. The original plan to spread out the rate of infection over time as to not overwhelm our health care system, now the plan has morphed into lets keep the shutdown for as long as it takes so that nobody gets the virus. There is a very good chance the virus is not going away ever, and will be wish us forever. Does that mean we keep businesses closed and the economy shutdown until the end of time because there is even a small chance you may get sick? This is to say nothing of the concept of herd immunity, which up until this virus was a universally accepted component to dealing with a mass pandemic. If fact this is the first time in history that we have ever quarantined a large portion of our population that is perfectly healthy, and in the process we have willingly (almost eagerly) given up our civil liberties and if the Island newspapers and online forums are any indication, are ability to use logic and reason to discuss this issue. It is shocking to me how to see how many people are so eager to burn down the village in order to save it.

    • Your “logic and reason” when it came to protests was that if people don’t agree with them, they simply shouldn’t attend, end of problem. You completely ignored the way a virus spreads. That you don’t actually have to BE at one of these mindless rallies, unprotected, in order to be affected by those who did choose to do something risky. If you can’t understand by now how a virus works, don’t preach about reason. There are experts in health and economics working together on national plans, and none of them agree with you.

      Why don’t you answer this — how many lives have to be lost before the caution we’re seeing is necessary in your book? Because you seem unimpressed so far. So please, tell us what death toll warrants a major change in the way we do things. Not sarcasm. I want to know and have yet to receive an answer from a single person who claims we’re overreacting.

    • More social interaction = more death.
      What is your deaths elasticity?
      Does that number change if it is your family and friends?

    • Wearing a simple mask does little to protect you when you are out in public. In order to protect yourself you need an N95 mask with its better filtration. What wearing a simpler mask protect others around you from the cloud of virus infected particles you emit if you have the virus. If you don’t give a crap about others, or about reducing the spread of this infection, then, sure go ahead and not wear a mask. What do you care?

  12. So sad. ????

    Judging and blaming are the last thing we need right now. Especially when we see it here on a daily basis. These continual gaffes only highlight glaring insecurity.


    • I’m confused. Are you saying Schepici’s comments about masks amount to a gaffe? She’s completely right. Wearing a mask is common sense. Some were fighting for the right to go back to work and swearing that everyone could be trusted to do the safe thing. We didn’t even make it a day before that failed. The construction worker I am close with is extremely concerned and careful about the virus. He wouldn’t ever consider being out in public without a mask. Now he, and those like him who are responsible, could end up losing more work if the ban has to be reinstated, all because some are not doing their part. The hospital was just stating the obvious because they actually care about our health. A real gaffe is telling citizens that chasing the Clorox dragon may help.

      • “A real gaffe is telling citizens that chasing the Clorox dragon may help.”

        Agreed. What a stupid comment.

      • “The construction worker I am close with is extremely concerned and careful about the virus. He wouldn’t ever consider being out in public without a mask.”

        Smart person. I am of the same mentality. And then some stay at home refusing to work, even though they can in groups of 2 with proper precautions. Why should they work when some are getting better pay lounging on their fannies. I know of three people in my island sphere/orbit who are receiving close to $300 for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in Massachusetts a week along with Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation for $600 a week. The $300 for Massachusetts lasts 34 more weeks! The Federal lasts until July 25!

        $900 a week for these workers who are not working!. Nice.

        Obviously, many are in no hurry to go back to work. With all these workers sitting on their rear-ends, collecting more than some would via their normal jobs, the economy recovery will not be as V-shaped as I thought. Actually, it will be. It will just occur at a later date.


        • I err again.

          “collecting more than some” should be: “some collecting more than their normal jobs.”

    • I’m not confused.

      I am referring to the presidential and vice presidential comments. Let it/them/ be. In these dire times we need to work together.

      We can’t take sides, now. Why do people not understand this? Why not save all the blame and judgment for after this pandemic? The divisive commons do nothing.


      • I don’t see any sense in unnecessary blame or irrelevant political talk right now. But if our politicians do or say something dangerous, by all means, we should counter it. Same with our neighbors. After the pandemic is over, it will be too late to tell them to wear masks. We need for them to do it now. Whether you’re Team Health Comes First or Team Reopen The Country, the best thing for us physically and economically is to stop the spread of corona. We are all best served by observing safety measures.

        • ” But if our politicians do or say something dangerous, by all means, we should counter it”

          But with this part, you know exactly what I am talking about. The politicians need not say a single word and some one will blame or judge. Daily. In the archives.

          • I did not use the compound word “someone” for very good reason.
            I used the words, “some one”.

            Hope this helps. :-^

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