Two long years

10

It was clear early on during the Wednesday, March 2, meeting of the Island boards of health that a majority of the board of health members were ready to lift the indoor mask mandate. The only question seemed to be when: Would they wait for a few days because of school vacation, or make it effective immediately?

Despite the writing on the wall, there were some folks during the Zoom meeting who took time to complain during the public comment period about the “loss of freedoms,” questioning the efficacy of mask wearing, and calling out reliance on the Centers for Disease Control.

But there were plenty of people praising the health boards and the health agents for the roles they played in keeping Islanders safe — as they should. We join them to applaud the efforts of the Island boards of health and their agents, who have put the health of all Islanders first throughout the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic — making sometimes unpopular decisions for the greater good. As we arrive at the two-year anniversary of Gov. Charlie Baker declaring a state of emergency on March 10, 2020 — in some respects it feels like it’s been a lot longer — we’ve come to truly appreciate the calm, professional leadership provided by these boards and the Island’s health agents.

The proof of their effectiveness is in the relatively few hospitalizations we’ve had overall. Remarkably, there has only been one official death on-Island due to COVID-19. That’s amazing, given how this disease has affected so many worldwide. As of Monday, there had been 957,000 deaths in the U.S., and 6 million deaths worldwide.

We’re particularly grateful to Tisbury health agent Maura Valley, who raised her hand in the early stages of the pandemic to be the spokesperson for the boards of health Islandwide. Valley has done an outstanding job keeping the public informed. Not only has she been consistent in issuing daily updates and more in-depth weekly reports, Valley has also made herself available to answer any and all questions from our reporters.

We’ve also been fortunate to have the partnership of Island Health Care, Martha’s Vineyard Bank, and seasonal Island resident and Quest Diagnostics CEO Stephen Rusckowski to bring TestMV to the Island, with the assistance of a flock of faithful volunteers who have staffed the testing center. While many testing sites across the commonwealth have been shut down due to the proliferation of at-home testing kits and because so many people have gotten the COVID-19 vaccines, TestMV has continued to provide an extra layer of testing on the Island. In an email Wednesday, Mary Breslauer, who has acted as a spokesperson for TestMV, announced that the site, which is currently located at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society grounds in West Tisbury, would close at the end of March.

Last week, only 33 individuals were tested at the TestMV site. The Island had only two positive cases of COVID last week, and only one of them was identified through PCR testing.

Meanwhile, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has also played a vital role in helping to keep the spread of COVID-19 to a minimum. Like Valley, hospital CEO Denise Schepici and COO Claire Seguin have made themselves available frequently throughout the pandemic to answer questions and to emphasize ways the public could help slow the spread of coronavirus. They also used their platforms to encourage vaccinations. During the height of the pandemic, Schepici and Seguin held weekly updates for reporters to communicate important information to the public.

When all of this started two years ago, there was a lot of fear of the unknown. We made some important sacrifices — staying home, avoiding large gatherings, holding some important family milestones via Zoom rather than in person.

Hopefully, we’ve turned an important corner in this pandemic. That remains to be seen. But what is crystal-clear is that we’ve benefited from the thoughtful decisionmaking of the Island boards of health and other healthcare professionals on the Vineyard.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Basic science would discredit all the attributions you have made in this article. Without a control group we have no idea what the outcome would have been with no quarantines, no social distancing, no masks or any other mostly non-sensical requirements over the last two years. What will come to light is the unintended consequence of higher substance abuse, drug overdoses, lack of regular health screenings and their subsequent deaths from heart disease , cancer etc. History will not treat this period of time well.

    • John– you have some points, but really, the reason people put off regular heath screenings etc. was not because of some government decree- it was because the hospitals were overrun with people dying from COVID.
      You gotta wait at least a few more months before you go off with too much revisionist history.
      Some people might be able to remember all the way back to last year, and think you have some political agenda and are trying to fool them.
      But we remember that famous quote by a former president–
      “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice—–____ we can’t get fooled again.”
      You only get one chance to fool us– use it wisely…

    • John, you once compared the transmission of a deadly virus with the continuation of our species via pregnancy. I don’t think you’re in a position to teach us about “basic science” and controls.

      Virus-containing measures have been formally studied elsewhere. Proper procedure was followed and the results were peer-reviewed. What the MV Times has suggested is in line with these findings. It’s also common sense, however useless and ironic that term has become, to connect proven solutions with better outcomes. (Better in a relative sense only. The loss of a community member can’t be overlooked or diminished.)

      I’m not the best at noting what is written here, but a certain degree of callousness and ostriching makes a lasting impression. You said that you don’t care if people get sick or worse. You referred to vulnerable folks wearing masks as idiots and fought any measure that would help us to open up sooner, forever reposting the usual rhetoric and lies.

      Now you’re suddenly worried about fallout from a pandemic that you wanted to ignore? After verbally beating up on those who have been most negatively impacted? The insincerity is palpable. It seems some were too busy repeating their mantra — “virtue signaling” — that Tucker programmed his viewers to use when backed into a logical corner. You must’ve missed half the discussion.

      Most of us acknowledged the secondary problems brought on by this pandemic ages ago. Some of us are among those who have been harmed by the very issues you mentioned. They are part of the reason — not separate from the reason — that we wanted to act swiftly and uniformly to tackle the virus. The endless list of losses stemming from this plague indicated that it had to be dealt with ASAP. Wellness visits and screenings are more readily available when hospitals aren’t completely overwhelmed by freedom fighterz who refused to take precautions. Every last issue, from deaths to chronic illness to finances, etc, would be best served by the population pulling in a single direction. Do you suppose that maybe two years of calling it the sniffles and denying reality may have prolonged things by affecting participation? Of course not.

      I don’t believe history will look back fondly on all of the supposed moral and religious wisemen who took the approach of, “Eh, they’re old or have pre-existing conditions. Expendable.” Personally, I don’t need to wait for the future to decide how utterly insane that is.

  2. Trust the experts, follow the science; our government knows what is best for us; Fauci has been straight with us all this time; more people would have died. All those other things you mention would have happened anyway. We sacrificed our freedoms so that only 1million died and we should pay higher gas prices in order to transition to electric vehicles.

  3. Andy– I am amazed and horrified that you can so casually dismiss the deaths of nearly one million Americans. Of course , I am not surprised as that fact does not fit your narrative.
    And in case you forgot, today, March 10, is the second anniversary of your most infamous post here– I can’t say too much about the specifics of that post, but you declared, on march 10 2020 that the United States would “not even get close” to 1,000 deaths from COVID 19 —
    You were pretty sure, I believe,,, Do you remember ? I do–
    Some others here do also, I am sure, — maybe some will comment about that here.
    And now you have the audacity to criticize DR. Fauci for being able to understand what was going on and shift policy accordingly.

    And while going off subject, I have asked before, and I will ask again–
    How does someone putting a solar panel on their roof lead to higher gas prices? If you are going to constantly throw that allegation out there, you should provide us with some sort of logical explanation as to how that financial dynamic works. Most of your financial prognostications have turned out to be quite wrong– perhaps you can redeem yourself on this one.
    I can present a logical argument that as the demand for gas goes up, the price will go up.
    The demand for petroleum products has , in recent months increased dramatically.
    I can also present a logical argument that when the worlds third largest producer of oil and gas invades a sovereign country and the world imposes sanctions on them, the price of gas will go up. … By the way, the country that produces the most gas and oil (the U,S) produced more gas and oil in the last 2 quarters of 2021 than in the last 2 quarters of 2020.
    https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=MCRFPUS2&f=M

    Shouldn’t you be focused on whether or not to say “they” or “them? ”
    I think that the fact that some people would rather be referred to in a gender neutral was is actually reducing the price of gas.
    And I have proof-;
    In Florida where the homophobe gov. has passed a law cancelling free speech about gender identity, the price of gas has gone up by 53.1 % in the last year
    Over the same period of time, California ( which is the liberal center of gender neutral identities) has seen an increase of only 50.8%
    https://gasprices.aaa.com/state-gas-price-averages/

  4. It was clear early on in the pandemic that Trump and his supporters were idiots. Well, it was clear before then, but, whatever. We have many, many control groups all over the country which prove this. It’s basic science. To spin a farblunget reality is simply what Trump supporters do. With mandates now lifted, these people are so out of it that now they are saying more truly idiotic things, like “Where’s Fauci?” and “See, we told you we don’t need no mandates” and the best one, “We sacrificed our freedoms”. I couldn’t be happier that the idiots suing the SSA over their vaccine mandate got the old what-for. Once vaccines were available and the responsible people did their duty to themselves and others, the control groups became obvious, even if only to those who had functioning brain cells.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/12/05/1059828993/data-vaccine-misinformation-trump-counties-covid-death-rate
    “Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump during the last presidential election have been nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those who live in areas that went for now-President Biden.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/17/counties-voted-trump-higher-covid-death-rate
    “Over 91% Democrats vaccinated, while only 60% Republicans have taken one shot, data reveals….And the gap in Covid’s death toll between “blue” states that vote mostly Democratic and “red” states that vote mostly Republican this fall widened more quickly than at any previous point of the pandemic.”

    https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2022/03/03/the-changing-political-geography-of-covid-19-over-the-last-two-years/
    “As the relationship between population density and coronavirus death rates has changed over the course of the pandemic, so too has the relationship between counties’ voting patterns and their death rates from COVID-19.
    In the spring of 2020, the areas recording the greatest numbers of deaths were much more likely to vote Democratic than Republican. But by the third wave of the pandemic, which began in fall 2020, the pattern had reversed: Counties that voted for Donald Trump over Joe Biden were suffering substantially more deaths from the coronavirus pandemic than those that voted for Biden over Trump. This reversal is likely a result of several factors including differences in mitigation efforts and vaccine uptake, demographic differences, and other differences that are correlated with partisanship at the county level.”

      • Katie — I also looked that word up . They can disagree with Jackie all they want, but you gotta give her credit for her clearly articulated comments, like the one above, attention to facts, and a great vocabulary.

        • Don, I agree. 🙂 I only wish that everyone would read the informative links and take some time to consider the evidence.

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