Updated Sept. 1
A contact tracing effort following positive COVID-19 test results for three Steamship Authority employees has sidelined some 40 other employees. On Monday 29 to 30 SSA employees went to Cape Cod Hospital for COVID-19 testing, according to SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll. Another 10 employees have been pulled from the schedule “out of an abundance of caution” but do not meet the criteria for testing. All the employees are from either the MV Governor or the MV Woods Hole. On Tuesday Driscoll said he doesn’t expect the employees to get test results for several days.
In the wake of three positive tests and many tests pending, the ferry line has placed a moratorium on all reservations between Sept. 2 and Sept. 8. Driscoll noted this includes modifications to existing reservations. Emergency medical passage will still be possible, however.
“We can still accommodate emergency travel needs per usual,” he wrote. “Anyone who is in that situation should talk to the terminal manager or call the reservation office for assistance.”
The timing of the ordeal is especially bad as the SSA is in one of busiest stretches of the season.
“There’s never an ideal time for anyone to get sick with COVID-19,” Driscoll said. But added the effects of self-quarantining and testing ahead of Labor Day weekend are especially challenging.
“Everyone is concerned about the health and safety of our passengers, staff and vessels,” SSA board chair Jim Malkin emailed. “I’m pleased that our protocols followed the guidelines. And to the best of my knowledge the staff followed the protocols.”
Malkin went on to write that he thanks “everyone for their patience and efforts as we work through yet another difficult situation due to COVID.”
The SSA altered its schedules after the second employee tested positive. As of Monday, the following changes were announced:
- The MV Sankaty, which completed one round trip on the Nantucket route Sunday, will remain on that route Monday and Tuesday. It will run in place of the MV Woods Hole for that vessel’s first two scheduled round trips of the day. The third scheduled round trip, which was slated to leave Hyannis at 5:30 pm and leave Nantucket at 8 pm both days, will be canceled.
- As the M/V Sankaty will be servicing the Nantucket route, all scheduled trips of the MV Sankaty on the Vineyard route on Monday and Tuesday will be canceled.
- The MV Woods Hole will temporarily return to the Vineyard route. On Monday, it will run in place of the MV Governor for all seven (7) of that vessel’s scheduled round trips. On Tuesday, it will run the first four (4) scheduled round trips of the MV Governor. The last three (3) round trips of the day (leaving Woods Hole at 2:50 pm, 5:20 pm and 7:45 pm and leaving Vineyard Haven at 4:05 pm, 6:30 pm, and 8:45 pm for that vessel will be canceled. The MV Governor will be secured in Woods Hole during this time.
For the Governor, the changes mean the Woods Hole will no longer cover any of its runs after Tuesday and the vessel will be sidelined with its trips canceled.
Messages went out Tuesday to notify travelers on the SSA’s email alert system that the Governor’s service was curtailed “due to unforeseen circumstances.”
Updated to provide more information about the reservation system and schedule changes.