Windemere residents recovering from ‘Kraken’

Nearly all of Windemere residents tested positive for the new COVID variant, but they are recovering. — MV Times

Nearly all of the patients in Windemere Nursing & Rehabilitation Center had tested positive for the latest COVID variant between late January and February. 

Claire Seguin, chief nurse and chief operating officer at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, told The Times on Wednesday, Feb. 8, there were a total of 26 residents who tested positive for the new variant, and none had “serious illness requiring hospitalization.”

That’s out of 30 residents.

“I am pleased to report that 22 of our Windemere residents have recovered,” Seguin said. “I’d also like to use this opportunity to remind the public of the importance of taking precautions and making use of the vaccinations that are available.” 

The 26 positive cases were an increase from the initial 18 positive cases reported in late January. The variant is known as XBB.1.5, sometimes called the “Kraken” variant. Seguin said it’s a “highly contagious variant,” and these cases “serve as a reminder why it’s so important to still be cautious if you’re feeling any symptoms of COVID.” 

There was also an increase in positive cases among staff. Eight staff members tested positive in January. Seguin told The Times that 16 staff members had tested positive; all but one have now recovered, with “no serious illness or hospitalizations.” 

“Although XBB.1.5 is the most common variant in Massachusetts today, we only send variant samples as guided by the state epidemiologist,” Seguin said. 

At this time, the source of the XBB.1.5 spread at Windemere is unknown. However, Seguin pointed out that COVID is circulating in the community. 

“The hospital continues to maintain its strict masking policies for all employees and patients, as well as use of good hand-washing practices and use of hand sanitizer,” Seguin said. “Thankfully, we’ve seen no uptick of cases among either employees or patients [at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital]. There have been a couple of isolated cases of patients coming to the hospital for care, which is an indication that this variant is in the community.” 

According to Yale Medicine, XBB.1.5 seems to be the most transmissible omicron strain, but there is no evidence that it causes more severe symptoms than other omicron strains, although research is ongoing. When asked whether people can approach COVID with less severity than before, Seguin said, “The experts will let us know when we can consider COVID-19 endemic.”