Update: 28 cases since Thursday

Baker announces vaccine rollout for first responders.

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Martha's Vineyard Hospital reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 over the long weekend.

Updated 5 pm

There have been 28 new cases of COVID-19 since Dec. 31 as the coronavirus drags into the New Year.

Of the new cases 17 were reported from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, nine from TestMV, and two from off-Island medical providers.

On Monday, the hospital reported it has conducted a total of 10,449 tests since March with 397 positives, and 9,928 negatives. There are currently 101 tests pending results and no hospitalizations.

Also as of Monday, TestMV has conducted 28,763 tests since June. Of those, 173 have tested positive, 27,455 negative, 1,135 are pending results.

The town of Aquinnah has also conducted its own tests. In total, the town has conducted 355 tests, of which zero have come back positive, 348 negative, and seven pending results.

Of the 561 confirmed cases, 284 are female and 271 are male. Of those, 141 are in their 30s, 100 are in their 20s, 81 are in their 50s, 80 are in their 40s, 87 are younger than 20, 47 are in their 60s, and 26 are older than 70.

There were three new symptomatically diagnosed cases from over the weekend for a total of 40 probable cases that have been reported since March — 21 females and 19 males. Of those, 24 received positive antibody tests, and 16 have been symptomatically diagnosed. There are eight in their 60s, eight in their 20s, six in their 50s, seven in their 40s, four younger than 20, three older than 70, and four in their 30s.

Individuals may be tested more than once at the hospital and TestMV to confirm illness, or to be released from isolation. This sometimes results in a discrepancy between the number of positive individuals and the number of positive tests reported.

Last week the hospital reported three Windemere Nursing & Rehabilitation Center employees tested positive for COVID-19. The employees, who were all in administrative positions, did not have any direct patient care responsibilities with Windemere residents. The hospital conducted additional testing of staff and residents, and none have tested positive. Earlier in December, two employees tested positive for COVID-19, but no residents tested positive for the virus.

The Windemere news comes as the hospital closed out the year by administering the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 212 of its employees — 85 received the Pfizer vaccine and 127 received the Moderna vaccine. The hospital is working with its parent company, Mass General Brigham, to coordinate vaccine rollout based on supply and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance. The hospital expects to administer vaccines to all of its frontline staff the first dose of the vaccine by sometime in January. 

There were 21 new cases of COVID-19 reported on the last day of 2020 — the highest daily total of cases on the Island. The next highest daily total was 19.

Despite spikes in cases across Massachusetts in the pandemic’s early days and heavy summer traffic to the Island, Martha’s Vineyard dodged the surge in cases, reporting 89 confirmed cases in that time with few hospitalizations and no deaths. 

The narrative changed on Oct. 26 when the boards of health reported the Island’s first COVID-19 cluster linked to a wedding. Since then, the Island has seen 471 — more than five times the 89 cases reported on the Island between March and Oct. 25.

In addition to the wedding cluster, which reported eight cases, clusters at Cronig’s Market with 19 cases and a Bible study group with 11 cases, where mask-wearing and social distancing were not mandatory, have also been reported.

After multiple days of reporting new cases over 6,000, the state reported 3,110 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, with an 8.42 percent positivity rate, and an estimated 79,261 active cases. There were 105 new deaths for a total of 12,610 COVID-19 deaths since March. The average age of those dead is 81.

On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that first responders in Massachusetts will begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines on Jan 11.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference, Baker said state officials are working with police, fire, and EMT agencies to administer doses to the state’s 45,000 first responders.

Speaking to the Times by phone Monday, Tisbury health agent and boards of health spokesperson Maura Valley said the boards of health and the hospital sent a list of Island first responders to the state to request vaccines as the hospital fleshes out plans for administering doses.

“They are going to get vaccinated at the hospital,” Valley said of the first responders. “The hospital is working out the logistics of that and I do believe they’re going to try to do it over three days and not vaccinate each department all in one day in case someone has to take a day off.”

Claire Seguin, chief nurse and chief operating officer for the hospital told the Times in an email that the hospital, collaborating with the boards of health, and Island police and fire chiefs, requested vaccines for 275 Island first responders to the state.

Seguin added the hospital does not yet know when the vaccines will arrive.

“We have yet to learn when the vaccines will be delivered to MVH,” Seguin said. “We are at the ready to administer them at our hospital clinic as soon as they arrive.”

Baker said vaccine rollout for first responders may be done onsite at agency facilities as long as they meet a list of criteria. First responders will also be able to set up appointments at one of the 60 vaccination sites statewide or book appointments at sites that will be operational in the next few weeks.

“With respect to first responders, obviously I think we all would agree that vaccine distribution can’t happen fast enough,” Baker said. “But the process also needs to be thoughtful and thorough. And while hospitals and long term care facilities continue to administer doses, we’ve been finalizing our plans for moving ahead with other groups.”

Updated to include information about first responders getting the vaccine.