COVID-19 case closes O.B. library for a week

Oak Bluffs library is closed after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. -Jeremy Driesen

Updated 5 pm 

Oak Bluffs Public Library is closed down for a week after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. Some library employees are in quarantine as a result of close contact with their colleague.

The library will be closed through Feb. 18 as contact tracing and testing of other employees are conducted. The library has been operating with contactless hold pickup service since June.

“While the facility is closed, a deep cleaning and disinfecting regime will be implemented before reopening. All updates on the library’s status will be posted on the OBPL website,” a public notice of the closure reads.

In an email to The Times, library director Allyson Malik wrote that the library is creating a FAQ is available for patrons online. She asked for the public to hold onto materials if they can or return them to other Island libraries.

“I’m grateful for all the safety protocols in place at the library and that the staff have been diligently following all the rules this whole time. When the rest of our COVID test results start coming back next week, we’ll see if it worked,” Malik wrote.

According to the library website the staff member last worked at the library on Feb. 10 and Feb. 9. The library’s website says that library materials picked up this week are as safe as groceries at the store. Virtual programs are also still taking place at the library.

Vaccine rollout

On Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters the state heard “disturbing reports” of individuals trying to take advantage of the companion appointments system that allows people aged 75 and older to get vaccinated if accompanying a senior to an appointment.

Baker announced on Wednesday the state was permitting the companion appointments at the state’s four mass vaccination sites off-Island, but since then people have been heading online to post ads seeking a senior to bring to a vaccination appointment and in some cases offering seniors money to do so.

“If you’re 75 years or older, and you need assistance going through the vaccination process, you should only reach out to somebody that you know or trust to bring as your companion, whether that’s a child, a companion, a spouse, a neighbor or caregiver,” Baker said. “Don’t take calls or offers from people you don’t know well or trust, and never share your personal information with anyone. If you’re contacted by somebody soliciting to take you to a site, please report it to the authorities.”

Three new COVID cases Thursday

There were three new cases of COVID-19 Thursday — two from Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and one from an Island resident tested at Cape Cod Hospital.

The hospital has conducted 13,247 tests for COVID-19 since March. Of those, 629 have tested positive, 12,565 negative, and 53 are pending results.

There are currently three patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Two are in “good condition,” and one who was admitted last week is in “fair condition,” according to hospital communications specialist Marissa Lefevbre.

As of Thursday, TestMV has conducted 32,440 tests since June. Of those, 247 have tested positive, 31,296 negative, and 897 are pending results.

Phase two, which began on Feb. 1, includes and begins with individuals 75 years and older. Hospital patients can sign up through Patient Gateway. Non-hospital patients can fill out an attestation form from the state’s website. 

The state has set up a call center for individuals 75 and older without access to the internet or who are unable to schedule their appointment online can call toll free 2-1-1 or 877-211-6277 for assistance.

The hospital is scheduling its oldest patients first, per the latest guidance from the Massachusetts department of health in phase two group one which are individuals 75 years and older.

Phase two group two will consist of individuals 65 years and older and two or more comorbidities. 

“The initial plan from the state was to vaccinate based on age and comorbidities (75 and older, 65 and older, individuals with 2 or more comorbidities) then last week the state made the adjustment for only 75+, based on age,” Lefevbre wrote in an email.

There were four new probable cases since Friday bringing the Island’s total to 53 since March.

The town of Aquinnah has conducted 416 tests, of which one has come back positive, 409 negative and six pending results.

The Martha’s Vineyard public schools have tested 3,560 individuals. Of those three have tested positive. The public school data is updated once a week.

On Friday, the hospital confirmed two additional staff members tested positive for COVID-19. 

Last week, five hospital employees tested positive for COVID-19 — three after coming in contact with an infected patient and two from community spread. Of the two additional cases, one is connected to the COVID-positive patient and the other is connected to community spread.

There are 48 active cases on the Island, according to an expanded Friday report from the boards of health.

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has reported a total of seven positive cases of COVID-19.

Due to how tests are conducted, there can be a discrepancy between the number of positive individuals and the number of positive tests reported.

The vast majority of COVID-19 cases have been reported since the end of October, when the Island’s first cluster of cases was linked to a wedding in October. Since then, the Island has seen 799 cases of COVID-19 — several times the 89 cases reported on the Island between when testing began in March.

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, have also been reported.

New clusters were reported last week with a five-case cluster at the hospital and a four case cluster at Project Headway.

On the state level Thursday, there were 2,213 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. The state’s seven-day average of percent positivity continues to drop and is now at 2.65 percent — a steep decline from 8 percent high in early January. There are an estimated 50,344 active cases statewide. There were 61 new deaths, for a total of 14,964 COVID-19 deaths since March.

Updated with current COVID data. — Ed.