Vogue magazine, what were you thinking?
We were flabbergasted when the first reader sent us a link to the Vogue article about a fall wedding on the Vineyard, when it appeared online Nov. 16. Then another, and another, and — well, you get the point. The story started to spread faster than the coronavirus has on the Island in recent weeks.
As we’ve mentioned in our news stories on this wedding and the Vogue story, reporter Brian Dowd was already researching a story on the cluster of COVID-19 cases associated with the Oct. 11 wedding — not to find the culprit or out anyone, but because questions had been raised about contact tracing after that event.
Vogue changed the narrative with its tone-deaf, upbeat portrayal of that wedding. Dozens of photographs of the wedding party spread across the Island — at beaches, at farms, at the inn — without masks on and little to no social distancing. The story included admissions that the wedding party had gathered from “across the country,” without any mention of quarantine or negative COVID-19 tests, as required. Maybe they did follow those guidelines and only took masks off for photos, but the evidence — such as the letter you’ll see in this issue from June Parker — suggests otherwise,
And the facts since that wedding are indisputable. Ten cases are directly tied by health officials to this event. They don’t know how many of the other cases, since that event can be linked to the cluster because of the way this virus is transmitted. You can get it from asymptomatic individuals, it does linger on surfaces, and all these months later, it can still take as much as three days to get test results.
The facts are that the Island had relatively few cases, and certainly no community spread, prior to this event. Now it’s a win when we see only a half-dozen new cases coming from the hospital or the TestMV site in a single day.
This came at the worst possible time. While most of the fall was milder than usual, we did have a cold snap that chased more people indoors where, again, it’s indisputable that this virus has higher rates of transmission.
So that’s why upset and frustrated Islanders shared this Vogue story with us multiple times after it appeared on the website Nov. 16. People who have missed their own special occasions — birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations — but now had a wedding of a couple with “ties to the Island,” apparently not following CDC guidelines and Massachusetts requirements. People who have had to wave to their loved ones in nursing homes through windows, or interact with family and friends via Zoom and FaceTime. Individuals who have had to wait for funerals, or who have limited them to small gatherings of people, without the hugs and comforting needed in times of grief.
Those are just a few of the reasons why people are so angry at this cavalier and callous wedding. Maybe all of the Island’s weddings have had a touch of this selfishness, but they didn’t flaunt it by giving an international magazine access to their nuptials.
We still have so many questions, but everyone has circled the wagons on this one.
Why would the bride and groom go ahead with this feature by Vogue when they clearly knew what happened with guests and workers testing positive for COVID-19?
Why didn’t the owners of Lambert’s Cove Inn, like businesses all across the Island — the Steamship Authority, Cronig’s, Nancy’s, and Tony’s Market — let their other customers know about the outbreak associated with their inn, instead of trying to keep it hush-hush? There’s been no backlash against any of those businesses. To the contrary, Cronig’s has seen an outpouring of support from the community. Instead, Lambert’s Cove Inn owners have blamed the messenger.
Why hasn’t the town of West Tisbury called in its licensee, Lambert’s Cove Inn, to make sure something like what happened in October doesn’t happen in the future? We’re disappointed that Cynthia Mitchell, who owns Island Health Care, but more importantly is the chair of the West Tisbury board of selectmen, offered no comment on this situation. When something like this happens in your town, you can at least express frustration and disappointment. She knows as well as anyone how hard the Island has worked to slow the spread of COVID-19 by making testing more accessible.
Thursday is Thanksgiving, and it will look different for families all across the Island. A day when we typically gather together will be better done by keeping our distances.
We all need to do our part to break this trend. We need to be vigilant when it comes to hand-washing, wearing masks, and maintaining social distance of six feet or more.
We can get through this together.