Confirmed COVID cases sit at 52

Health officials continue to ask for adherence to safety guidelines.

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Martha's Vineyard Hospital had no new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. - Kyra Steck

The total confirmed case count on Martha’s Vineyard sits at 52, based on reports from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (MVH), Island boards of health, the TestMV site, and the Aquinnah laboratory testing site.

So far, 9,252 total tests have been performed on-Island, with 8,172 tests coming back negative, and 1,028 pending tests.

The hospital reported no new COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday morning, with the total number of confirmed cases remaining at 37.

In total, the hospital has tested 2,848 patients for COVID-19. Of those, 2,750 tests have come back negative, with 61 pending tests. There are currently no hospitalizations due to COVID at MVH.

The TestMV site reports 6,394 total tests performed, with 5,417 negatives, 15 positives, and 962 tests still pending. According to the TestMV website, due to high demand for COVID-19 molecular testing nationwide, results for TestMV asymptomatic patients will now be available in seven or more days. First responders and health care workers can continue to expect results within one to two days.

The Island boards of health report one new confirmed positive case, having conducted 17 antibody tests. 

The Aquinnah laboratory so far has conducted 69 tests, with 65 total negatives and four pending tests. 

The total number of cases, including presumptive (positive tests, antibody tests, and symptomatic positives), has risen to 72. 

The MVH, the town of Aquinnah, boards of health, and TestMV, the testing site at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, each report their own testing numbers. Those numbers are then all compiled by the boards of health. The actual number of cases can be difficult to count due to lag time and overlaps in testing each day.

In answer to a question raised by a Times reader about whether the hospital is counting confirmed cases of people who live on-Island part-time, MVH CEO Denise Schepici clarified that the hospital reports every test conducted at the hospital, regardless of place of residence. 

As a result of the strategic plan, the hospital opened its brand-new pediatrics suite on Monday, with seven exam rooms now being housed in wing one. Schepici said the space is functioning just as the hospital had hoped, with a spacious reception area and private offices for each physician. Schepici said she looks forward to welcoming patients into the new space. 

Continuing with the strategic plan, Schepici said the hospital is looking to expand more in the future, but has completed the current goals in the strategic plan of expanding mental and behavioral health services, cardiology services, and primary care, and “the list goes on.” These expansion projects are included in the 75% of the strategic plan completed at this point.

According to Schepici, one major element of the hospital’s strategic plan is creating a new elder housing development in Edgartown, called Navigator Elder Homes, that will replace the Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. 

Schepici said the project is making significant headway in garnering support and fundraising, and the hospital will be working with the Edgartown planning board to obtain the proper licensing and permits for the project. 

After a rise in cases recently, Schepici said she attributes that to people arriving on-Island and getting tested. “More density, more tests, more cases,” she said. When asked if the hospital has preparations in place to pull back services like it did at the outset of the pandemic, Schepici said she hopes that the numbers will not go in that direction, and those extreme circumstances will not present themselves. “But we do have plans in place if the numbers drive us in that direction,” Schepici said.

Most traveling hospital staff, according to Schepici, have 12- to 13-week assignments at a time, so their travel to and from the Island is minimal.

Schepici said that turnaround times for tests remain the same: anywhere between 24 and 48 hours to get results, although the hospital does have an analyzer that can turn a test around in as little as an hour. Schepici said this is necessary for surgeries and other instances where a faster turnaround time is essential. 

After more than four months of the pandemic, Schepici said she is worried people are getting fatigued. 

“We have to keep urging people to please, please stick to the guidelines, and we will all be safe,” Schepici said. “I am so thrilled the towns have taken a strong stance in time for August, and I hope everyone will follow these guidelines.”

Schepici said she worries about the “young and the restless,” and said that, although this would normally be party time on the Vineyard, now is not the time for people to get too lackadaisical about following the public health protocols.

According to Schepici, the last nine cases reported by the hospital have been in the younger age range, from age 18 to 25, although none of those people were hospitalized.

“I understand everyone wants to be free and just have a great time, but it just isn’t the time for that,” Schepici said.