Dukes County ends its COVID emergency

COVID emergency measures will no longer be taken at Dukes County facilities. — MV Times

The Dukes County Commission unanimously ended its COVID-19 emergency and mask mandate for the county, effective immediately, during a Wednesday, April 5, meeting. 

According to county manager Martina Thornton, this will drop mask requirements and lift occupancy limits in conference rooms at the county’s facilities. The decision will not affect facilities the county does not own. 

Martha’s Vineyard has already been gradually lessening COVID-related public health requirements, like suspending a mask mandate.

The commission’s decision is earlier than when the state plans to end its COVID public health emergency. The Healey-Driscoll administration announced last month it will end the emergency on Thursday, May 11. The date aligns with the Biden-Harris administration’s plans to terminate the federal COVID emergency on the same day. 

Ending the state emergency order also brings changes for healthcare providers. Mass General Brigham, the hospital network Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is in, shared in an email to patients how the end of the state’s emergency measures will affect services after May 12. 

Patients who were able to get controlled substances like opioid pain medications or anxiety medications through virtual or telehealth visits may need to have had an in-person visit within the past two years to continue receiving these medications through telehealth visits. New patients may need to meet their provider in person before starting controlled substances. 

Most insurance companies are expected to continue covering the cost of COVID vaccines, although there may be a co-pay. However, the mandatory insurance coverage for COVID testing will end. Only when a health provider orders the test will a plan cover the costs. Similarly, at-home COVID tests will not be reimbursable after May 12. 

Coverage for COVID treatment will not change, according to the email. 

These changes are still being finalized. 

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital will also be waiting until the state’s COVID emergency comes to an end in May. 

“The vote by the county commission only affects county-owned facilities, which does not include the hospital,” Martha’s Vineyard Hospital chief nurse Claire Seguin said. “Both state and federal health officials have set May 11 as the end of the public health emergency. At that time, we will announce any changes in protocol for our patients.”