Updated July 2
The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital confirmed its first COVID-19 case in nearly five weeks, bringing its total number of positive cases to 29.
Spokesperson for the Island boards of health Maura Valley told The Times in an email that the new hospital confirmed case is actually a retest of a person who was tested at the Island Health Care test site at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.
The new confirmed case is the first for the hospital since May 30. As of Wednesday, the hospital has tested 1,668 total patients with 1,589 negatives, and 15 are pending results.
The one case rise comes ahead of the Fourth of July Weekend. While Massachusetts has seen declining numbers of hospitalizations, confirmed cases, and, on Tuesday, reported zero deaths for the first time in months, confirmed cases are rising in other areas across the country. Nantucket Cottage Hospital has seen a six-case increase over the past week after going without a new case for 34 days.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call Wednesday, hospital CEO Denise Schepici said she’s always been concerned about numbers increasing during the summer.
“All we do is continue to ask people to please, please wear masks, try and social distance, it’s the best protection,” Schepici said. “I know there’s a lot of controversy around masks, but the science shows masks matter. Of course, I’m concerned, but it’s not unexpected.”
As of Tuesday, Island Health Care (IHC), which tests asymptomatic individuals, reported that in total it had tested 2,399 patients with four positives, 2,168 negatives, and 227 pending results.
The town of Aquinnah is also conducting self administered saliva tests. So far 19 people have been tested. None have come back positive, 15 are negative, and four are pending results.
Test kits are provided by the Aquinnah board of health. They are available for pick up at the board of health office window at the Aquinnah Town Hall. The test can be taken at home and mailed to a lab for testing.
The boards of health have separately reported two confirmed cases, bringing the Island’s total to 34.
Speaking on Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to relax the state’s self-quarantine advisory for travelers coming from New England, New Jersey, and New York, Schepici said she respects Baker is counseled by science and hopes people will comply.
“Please, please have the courtesy and respect to protect our islanders and visitors alike,” Schepici said.
The hospital also announced Tuesday that COVID-19 testing has now been expanded to homebound patients. Testing is done in coordination with Edgartown and Tisbury Fire departments and with support from the hospital’s parent company Mass General Brigham, formerly Partners Healthcare.
The criteria for testing at the hospital frequently changes, but chief nurse and operating officer Claire Seguin has said it’s a combination of people who are symptomatic and people who are asymptomatic that are in a high risk category. While there is some provider discretion, allowing pre-employment and pre-camp testing would be too much for the hospital to handle.
Adolescent psychiatry services are being offered through a hybrid telehealth model. Dr. Steven Feder who was also on the call said the program came from the hospital’s community needs assessment. A consistent psychiatrist will be on call providing service.
Feder said it provides a “continuity of care” for children who normally get intermittent care off-Island.
“This will be the same psychiatrist who provides care and who will be coming to the Island periodically as well,” Feder said.
Also speaking on pediatric care, Schepici said there’s been a national trend of parents falling behind on immunizations for their children since the pandemic hit. Feder agreed and said immunization services are being offered at the hospital.
“This is a strong reminder that we need to be vaccinating our children against immunization preventable diseases,” Feder said. “We don’t want to see a measles or whooping cough outbreak here.”
Updated to include information about duplicate testing. — Ed.