By Brian Dowd and Lucas Thors
Two Island businesses are closed as the Island has seen its biggest increase in positive COVID-19 cases in the past few months.
Positive COVID-19 cases at Shirley’s Hardware in Vineyard Haven have grown to five positive cases and is now considered a cluster. Shirley’s was closed down for two weeks on March 27 after when the initial two employees tested positive for COVID-19.
Tisbury health agent and boards of health spokesperson Maura Valley told The Times in an email if customers are concerned they should get tested, but with retail businesses customers are not at high risk.
A cluster is defined as more than two people from different families or households with a shared source of infection.
Meanwhile, the Barn Bowl & Bistro closed its doors Friday for two days after a kitchen employee tested positive for COVID-19 Friday.
“As of right now I closed, everyone’s quarantining, and getting tested,” Barn general manager Mike Sawyer told the Times in a phone conversation.
The Island saw a jump in cases on Monday with 47 cases reported by the boards of health between March 21 and 27. The Island boards of health switched from daily COVID reporting to weekly reporting on Mondays.
The Island has had six other clusters, including King’s Barbershop (seven cases), October wedding (eight cases), Cronig’s Market (19 cases), a Bible study group (11 cases), MV Hospital (five cases), and Project Headway (four cases).
Meanwhile, as of Thursday, the hospital has administered more than 11,000 total vaccine doses — 6,850 first doses, and 5,028 second doses.
On Monday, April 5, vaccine eligibility will expand to those ages 55 and older.
The next round of vaccine appointments at the hospital will be made available for sign-up on Saturday, April 3, at 8 am. Those eligible for vaccines include those over the age of 60, individuals over 18 with two chronic health conditions, adults working in public and private senior housing, K-12 educators and staff, child care workers, and workers in the following categories: restaurants, cafes, food, agriculture, retail, food service, grocery, convenience stores, food pantries, transit, public works, sanitation, public health, court system, and funeral services.
After that, new appointments with the expanded 55-and-older eligibility will be available for sign-up on Monday, April 5, at 5 pm. Eligible individuals can sign up at bit.ly/mvhospitalvaccine.
Schools to return to full in-person learning
With pool testing in place and the vaccine rollout progressing on-Island, elementary schools will be increasing the amount of in-person instruction available to students.
In mid-March, Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley issued guidance and a mandatory timeline for when elementary and middle schools will be required to return to full in-person.
According to the memo, students in grades K-5 will be required to return to a full-time in-person learning model by Monday, April 5, and students in grades 6 to 8 must return by Wednesday, April 28.
For some Vineyard schools, this means adding one day of in-person instruction to the school week. For up-Island schools that are already offering in-person, full-time, only minor alterations will have to be made to the daily schedule.
Guidance and a timeline for high school students has not yet been released.
As of April 1, 13 students and 13 staff at the Edgartown School were in quarantine due to being a close contact with a person who tested positive, according to a report on the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools website. Seven students at the school were in isolation due to a positive COVID test, with one staff member in isolation.
Students and staff are required to quarantine if they come in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID.
The report shows that 11 students at the high school are in quarantine due to being a close contact, and five students are in isolation due to a positive COVID test.
Beginning Monday, the pick up and drop off process at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School will change.
The high school provides bus transportation to Island elementary school students, as well as high school students, so pick up and drop off times will need to correspond with the additional students using school transportation at the Island’s elementary schools.
According to a memo from the high school, which is also available in Brazilian Portuguese, adjustments to the pick up and drop off times are meant to increase safety and alleviate congestion at the intersection of Sanderson and Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.
In the morning, all drop offs should be in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) lot at door 31. Parents will use the PAC lot entrance to enter and continue around the lot’s perimeter, then use the PAC lot exit to leave. Buses will be dropping off at the front of the school, and will continue to drop at the gym, as well.
In the afternoon, all pick ups should be in the PAC lot. Parents will use the PAC lot entrance to enter and continue around the lot’s perimeter, then use the PAC lot exit to leave.
Buses 1-5 will be staging and picking up at the front of the school in front of the main office. Buses 6-10 will continue to stage and pick up at the gym. Vehicles will not be allowed in the front of the school while the buses are staging for pick up.
CDC updates vaccination guidance
On Friday, updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control says those who are fully vaccinated can now travel at low risk to themselves. The guidance states that people who are fully vaccinated can travel within the country without getting tested beforehand or self-quarantining after.
Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their last required dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 tests are also not required for fully vaccinated individuals traveling internationally unless their destination requires it, and don’t need to quarantine after returning. Fully vaccinated international travelers should still produce a negative test before boarding a returning flight to the United States and have a follow up test three to five days after their return.
Regardless of vaccination status, the CDC still recommends all Americans wear masks, wash hands, and practice social distancing while traveling.
Everyone will either get Covid or a vaccination before long. Go to the Mexico border with us and see the biggest superspreader around. Closing Shirleys is craziness.
Andrew– just over a year ago, you were pretty confident that deaths from Covid 19 would not surpass one thousand Americans. I am pretty certain that you will remember that post on this site. I am also pretty certain that a number of people on this forum will remember it also.
it was so controversial that I think i am not allowed to post it here.
Let me tell you the consequence of “everyone” getting this– The United States has a fatality rate of about 2 % from this virus .
What that means is that “if everyone gets it” over 6 million Americans will die from it.
is that acceptable to you ?
You claim that you are a retired top executive of a large corporation.
Shirley’s has about 10 “front line employees”. The article states that there are 5 cases associated with this business. We don’t know if they are all employees. or family members are included. But there is a possibility that all 5 cases are employees.–( I like all of them, so i am quite saddened by this story) Now, let me ask you, Andrew– if you were running a fortune 500 company, and 1/2 of your employees were infected with one of the most deadly viruses the world has seen in the last 100 years, would you put the rest of your employees, and their contacts at risk ? Answer honestly, Andrew.
And let the rest of us decide what “craziness” is.
Hi Don- I respectfully tip my hat in the arena of debate. I think much of what you say is sensible and valid. The 2% fatality rate is tricky, however, because it leads us to automatically assume a certain number of fatalities. Dukes County has had 1004 positive cases. 2% fatality would mean 20 people died in Dukes County of Covid. Actual deaths? Zero. I am by no means saying that Covid isn’t a legitimate health issue and deserves caution, merely that cookie cutter math doesn’t apply.
Hi Julian– I welcome your opinion. I know you do not comment here often, but I respect you and your opinion.
I based my 2% number on data cited above.
I cite cases with an outcome– United States only —
of the approximately 25 million cases that have had an outcome– about 2 % have died.
98 % have recovered . There are another 7 million cases waiting for an outcome. There are only 2 outcomes– recover or die. People who are “long haulers” are still waiting for an outcome.
Your comment is absolutely correct– “cookie cutter math doesn’t apply”. My mathematical projection is just that– a projection extrapolated from historical data. It could go either way– we could come up with better treatments and that 2 % rate would go down. Conversely the virus could mutate into a deadlier strain, and the 2% rate could go up.
Your comment brings up an interesting point:
So let me address that.
We live on an “exclusive” island–
We are mostly white
We are statistically more educated than the general population of the U.S.
We have a higher income than the general population of the U.S
We have access to some of the best medical care in the world.
That is clearly reflected in the numbers.
Hi Don- I appreciate that I can discuss points and exchange ideas with lucidity, civility, and an examination of documented facts. Thank you. I think the island is likely an atypical area in terms of outcomes due to the environmental and lifestyle elements that make it an appealing place to live. The “Long Hauler” issue is quite terrifying- I’ve read of people who were running marathons a year ago who now struggle to climb a flight of stairs with no clear indication of if or when they will fully recover. COVID is a murky, mercurial pathogen that kills some, wrecks some, and goes asymptomatic in others. Hence we’ve had extreme responses- excessive panic and excessive carelessness(i.e. the Sturgis motorcycle rally). Sensible, evidence- based precautions seem the best way to go.
Our annual per capita household income on the island is only 4% higher than the national average and $6000 lower than the state average, so our positive outcomes are probably not too closely correlated to that.
5 people got it at Shirley’s, not sure they have people to work if they are all sick. It’s not crazy its called being responsible
One more comment and then I’ll get off the topic. That 2% fatality rate is tricky because there are credible estimates that the actual number of people who were infected is likely three times higher(see HealthITanalytics), and the 25 million figure merely represents those who went in for a test while they were actively contagious and received a documented result. If that is correct, it would slice the fatality rate down to .8%. I am by no means saying that that is an insignificant figure or that the loss of 550,000 lives is anything to dismiss, but I do think throwing the 2% fatality rate out there as part of a debate is tricky because it undermines the validity of the core argument, which by itself is reasonable, i.e. exercise sensible precautions.
A positive PCR test is not a “case.”
We still need clarity in the terminology.
As courts in Portugal and Austria have ruled, only a doctor can diagnose a case of covid-19.
katherine–I don’t really care about the semantics as to what is a “case” and what is not.
And I really don’t think the U.S should base it’s medical standards of the rulings of a couple of small countries in Europe.
The fact of the matter is that 567 thousand Americans have died from this disease in the past year. An additional one thousand people , in this country, are dying every day from it.
Despite the fact that less than 30 deaths were attributed to Covid 19 over the first 60 days of 2020, it still managed to rise to the third leading cause of death in the United States for 2020.
Perhaps you don’t need a doctor to diagnose a suicide either. Despite all the right wing “alternative facts” about the “lock downs” causing so much emotional pain that suicide is out of control, the fact is that suicide has, for the first time in over 20 years dropped off of the list of 10 leading causes of death in the United States. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2778234
You say “A positive PCR test is not a “case.”” I agree– you are likely correct– but a dead body is a dead body, and as long as we deny the facts , and play semantical games with the terminology about this disease, the bodies will continue to pile up.
dead is dead — Usually — but there is a little wiggle room , I guess.
Think about it.
Should we be looking to the Portugal and Austria courts as to who may determine who has a case of Covid?
What do Doctors use to to determine a case of Covid?
A positive PCR test?
More than one positive PCR test?
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