With the Island still at “high risk” for the spread of COVID-19 under Centers for Disease Control guidelines, the Island boards of health have issued a COVID fact sheet that they hope will help abate the spread.
This comes as the Island remains locked in triple digits for new infections each week. Between Sunday, July 10, and Saturday, July 16, there were 113 new cases reported. Meanwhile, there were four hospitalizations during the last seven-day period, and three people remain hospitalized as of Monday.
Last week, there were 134 new cases, and the Island has been in triple digits for cases throughout the summer.
The surge in cases is what prompted the Island boards of health to issue the press release.
“Omicron subvariant BA.5 is the dominant variant currently spreading in the U.S., and seems to be the most contagious version to date,” the release states. “BA.5 is causing more reinfection in people who already had COVID-19, including infections caused by some earlier versions of omicron. It’s also evading immunity from the vaccines, although vaccines are still effective at preventing severe disease and death.”
The release also points out that there is a mask advisory in place for indoor locations on the Vineyard. “In light of the infectious nature of BA.5 and our CDC classification as a high-risk community, the boards of health strongly advise individuals to wear a mask when indoors, in enclosed spaces serving the public, or when unable to maintain social distance, regardless of vaccination status,” the release states. “Individual businesses also have the right to require mask-wearing by their staff and customers. High quality N-95 masks are available at all Island board of health offices.”
The release also reminds individuals that the best protection against severe illness from COVID is the vaccine and booster shots. A vaccination bus is returning to the Island on Sunday, July 31, from 9 am to 5 pm at the MVRHS parking lot. Appointments are required, and can be made online at bit.ly/MVvaxxbus. Vaccines are also available through Martha’s Vineyard Hospital or Health Imperatives (M.V. Family Planning).
“For many people who contract COVID-19, symptoms resemble those of a cold,” the release states. “If you begin to experience a fever, cough, sore throat, headache, runny nose, or congestion, it’s important to get tested right away. An at-home OTC test is a good first option in this situation, and test kits are available at all board of health offices. If the result is positive, it likely means you have COVID-19. When you have symptoms and an OTC test is positive, there isn’t a need to confirm the result with a lab-based test. Please take the time to report your positive result at rapidtestmv.org.”
A negative result doesn’t mean you don’t have COVID. “If your symptoms persist or get worse, it’s a good idea to take another at-home test after a day or two. If the repeat at-home test is also negative, you should strongly consider getting a lab-based PCR test,” the release states. “Testing a few days after you have been exposed or potentially exposed to an individual with COVID-19 is also recommended. Again, if you have reason to believe you may be infected, but tested negative with an OTC test, you should follow up with a lab-based PCR test.
“Antiviral medications and monoclonal antibody therapies are available for infected individuals at higher risk of severe disease. If you test positive for COVID-19 and are at higher risk of severe disease because you’re an older adult or you have a health condition, reach out to your healthcare provider to see if treatment is advised. The state also provides free telehealth for COVID-19 treatment with Paxlovid for eligible individuals.”