‘We’re not out of the woods’

Hospital, boards of health issue statement after Island sees largest number of COVID-19 cases since March.

The hospital and Island boards of health, worried about a surge of cases, are reminding people to wear masks and keep their social distance. - Lexi Pline

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital CEO Denise Schepici and the Island boards of health have issued a joint statement about what they call a “disturbing trend of heightened COVID-19 cases.” 

It comes as the Island has seen the greatest number of positive cases since March, according to the statement. There were 18 new cases on the Island in a one-week period, with 11 of those at the hospital and the rest coming from the TestMV site at MVRHS.
“Contact tracing and case investigations are underway, with close contacts of positive individuals being quarantined and referred for testing,” the release states. “Although five of the new cases are linked to a cluster connected to an Island wedding, most are not. The concern is that the Island could be experiencing the beginning of community transmission.”

According to the statement, the current uptick should serve as a reminder to the community to avoid large gatherings, and always wear a mask when out in public when physical distancing is not possible.
“We urge Island businesses and organizations to review their COVID-19-related safety protocols with their employees and ensure that physical distancing and masking is enforced in all areas including shared work vehicles, break rooms and other locations where staff or members of the public gather,” the release states. “If any employees are experiencing symptoms, please refer them immediately for testing and allow them to stay home from work.”

The current surge has the potential to push the Island into a high risk or “red” community under the state’s metrics based on average daily cases per 100,000 residents. As result, the hospital and boards of health are asking community members to remain vigilant and issued the following reminders:

  1. Avoid crowds.
  2. When you are in public, wear a mask.
  3. Respect physical distancing of 6 feet in between you and other people.
  4. Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using hot water and soap. Use hand sanitizer.
  5. Be responsible. If you have COVID-19-like symptoms or suspect you have been in contact with someone who tested positive, stay home and call your physician.
  6. Follow the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Traveler’s Guidance. Individuals arriving in Massachusetts are required to complete the Massachusetts travel form prior to arrival, quarantine and be tested for COVID-19.  This guidance applies to everyone entering Massachusetts from a high-risk state, including college and university students who will soon be returning home for the Thanksgiving holiday.
  7. If you are called by a contact tracer, we ask that you answer those calls and be truthful and forthcoming about not only your exposure, but possible exposure to others.

“These high numbers should be viewed for what they are: a stark warning to all of us that we are not out of the woods and every one of us remain at risk for infection,” Maura Valley, Tisbury health agent, said in the release. “We need people to be vigilant about the protocols to avoid exposure and if they are exposed or receive a positive test, to cooperate fully with our contact tracers.”

“Everyone has worked so hard these past seven months to keep our prevalence low,” Schepici said in the release. “We cannot be subdued into thinking the virus is waning or is not a threat, so we need to keep up all our smart practices to keep us all protected and safe.  Please take care and follow the guidelines. If we stay together on this we will get through it together.”