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