Around New England

Don’t Go To Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Island Hospitals Say

March 22, 2020

People with second homes on the islands off Cape Cod shouldn’t go there, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said Sunday, echoing what hospital officials said.

Nantucket reported its first case of coronavirus on Sunday, March 22, leading public officials there to issue an order that residents stay home unless they are performing essential tasks.

Here’s an excerpt from a joint statement issued by Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Nantucket Cottage Hospital, published by the Martha’s Vineyard Times:

    • We are asking you to stay at home.
    • For those Island residents, only travel for the absolute necessities, such as food or prescriptions.
    • If you come to the Island, you will only strain our limited resources, putting your life and others at risk.
    • If you have a summer home here, we are asking you to stay at your home residence [off-Island]. We have limited bed capacity, at 25 at MVH and 14 at NCH, and that is already strained.
    • We have limited medical resources here on the Island, and they are dwindling rapidly.
    • We will not have enough staff to care for you or your loved ones.
    • Our hospitals are virtually locked down to prevent the flow of people through the facility.
    • We must act now to prevent any further spread.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital isn’t running at peak capacity as it normally does in season. The hospital is seeking retired or active physicians currently on the island to volunteer for the hospital’s reserve staff in case they are needed, according to the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror.

The board of selectmen and board of health of Nantucket issued what they are calling a “Stay at Home” order on Sunday, March 22, taking effect at 5 p.m. Monday, March 23.

“All persons living in the Town and County of Nantucket are directed to stay at their place of residence until further notice.  This not a ‘lockdown’ and essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants (including take-out and coffee shops — for delivery or curbside pick-up only) remain open for business,” town officials said in a written statement Sunday, March 22.

While the order carries with it a theoretical $1,000 vine for violating it, the major purpose is to strongly urge people to stay in their homes most of the time instead of merely encouraging it.

Nantucket is an island about 28 miles south of Cape Cod. It has about 11,000 year-round residents. The island and two much smaller islands near it make up one town – the town of Nantucket – and  also a county – Nantucket County.

Martha’s Vineyard is an island about 3 miles south of Cape Cod and consists of six towns. Those six towns plus the much smaller Elizabeth Islands (which make up the tiny town of Gosnold) make up Dukes County.

None of the towns on the Vineyard had yet issued a shelter-in-place order, as of 7 p.m. Sunday, March 22.

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