Update: Baker extends capacity restrictions for two weeks

Six new COVID cases reported Thursday after a record 25 on Wednesday.

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25 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Wednesday. - Lexi Pline

Gov. Charlie Baker announced extensions to temporary coronavirus restrictions to pause activity and reduce mobility.

In a press conference with reporters Thursday, Baker said the temporary restrictions will be extended through Jan. 24.

“As we all know, Massachusetts is fighting its way through a second surge. Cases are growing and hospitalizations continue to climb,” he said. “That puts a lot of pressure on our healthcare system and our hospitals.”

The restrictions, enacted on Dec. 26, were set to expire on Sunday following spikes in cases after the Thanksgiving holiday. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the goal was to keep the restrictions temporary.

Restaurants, movie theaters, offices, places of worship, retail, fitness centers, health clubs, libraries, golf facilities, driving schools, and museums are all required to limit customer capacity to a maximum of 25 percent.

Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people.

The extension comes as hospitalizations and ICU admissions have increased in the past month, according to Baker.

Baker also announced that Massachusetts hospitals will be raised to tier 4 status, a designation that notes limited capacity for at least one week. 

The Martha’s Vineyard boards of health reported six new cases of COVID-19 Thursday — a day after the Island saw 25 new cases, the highest daily total since testing began in March.

As of Thursday, there have been 75 confirmed positive cases reported this week — already the highest total of cases reported in a week. The 75 cases include cases reported since Dec. 31.

On Thursday, the hospital reported it has conducted a total of 10,733 tests since March, with 434 positives, and 10,252 negatives. There are currently 47 tests pending results, and one patient that has been hospitalized since Wednesday.

Also as of Thursday, TestMV has conducted 29,184 tests since June. Of those, 181 have tested positive, 27,848 negative, and 1,155 are pending results.

The town of Aquinnah reported its first positive case from its own testing Thursday. In total, the town has conducted 388 tests, of which one has come back positive, 375 negative, and 12 pending results.

Of the total 608 confirmed cases since March, 308 are female and 300 are male. Of those, 98 are younger than 20, 105 are in their 20s, 153 are in their 30s, 91 are in their 40s, 86 are in their 50s, 48 are in their 60s, and 26 are older than 70.

There were two new probable cases Thursday, totaling 43 probable cases that have been reported since March — 23 females and 20 males. Two symptomatically diagnosed individuals tested negative and have been removed from the probable list.

Of those, 24 received positive antibody tests, and 19 have been symptomatically diagnosed. There are eight in their 60s, eight in their 20s, six in their 50s, eight in their 40s, six younger than 20, three older than 70, and five 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.

On Wednesday the state reported 6,419 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, with an 8.25 percent positivity rate, and an estimated 79,967 active cases. There were 99 new deaths, for a total of 12,563 COVID-19 deaths since March. The average age of those dead is 81.

Vaccine rollout for the Island’s first responders will begin Monday, according to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital chief nurse and chief operating officer Claire Seguin.

A clinic to administer the vaccine for first responders will also be held on Jan. 15, 16, and 19.

“We outline these plans below with an understanding that it is dependent on guidance from the state and the availability of the vaccine. We are working closely with the Mass General Brigham system too,” Seguin wrote in a statement. “So far, the supply flow has been what we have been expecting.”

Seguin told the Times in a separate email that the hospital, collaborating with the boards of health and Island police and fire chiefs, requested vaccines for 275 Island first responders from the state.

As of Jan. 6, the hospital has vaccinated 292 employees at the hospital. Staff and residents at Windemere will receive initial vaccine doses on Jan. 12 through a federal program operated by CVS and Walgreens. The second dose for Windemere staff and residents is scheduled for Feb. 2.

  • There seems to be a lack of connection between hope and reality combined with a lack of transparency about what level of crisis we face on the island. The MV Hospital reported it has only 4 ICU beds and 5 ventilators and that number was provided by the Administrator on pressure from the press in late March, early April. Rumor has it that Mass General commandeered some of the ventilators in April, so we know not what is available on island. In reporting spikes in cases, we have not been given reports of on island hospitalizations for Covid nor reports of how many of those MVH hospital beds are occupied or not. Given that 10% of infected folks with Covid, on average, must be hospitalized, it would seem the MV Hospital might already be over capacity for treating Covid patients! We have seen no reports of local deaths from the recent spike in Covid cases coming out of the MV Hospital, thank goodness, but is that just a lack of info? Yet, our High School is planning on bringing back 300 kids into the building on average each day stating next week. I’m sorry but life is more precious than rushing to resume a half way approach to in person learning at this time. THIS SECOND WAVE IS THE TIDAL WAVE!

  • History will not treat this point in time well at all. Every state that has increased lockdowns has increased cases of covid. These liberal leaders, yes the rino Charlie Baker is a liberal, are power hungry. If they truly cared about the virus, rather than being power hungry, why wouldn’t they be advocating for ways to diminish the effect on individuals? We’d all be better prepared to fight this virus if we eliminated some comorbidities . Weight Loss, exercise, vitamin D are just a few things that would have saved lives. This is what real leaders would espouse. Instead we have government hacks shutting down businesses with no scientific proof these businesses enhance the spread of the virus. Absolutely shameful.

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