Updated 4:30 pm
On Thursday Gov. Charlie Baker announced that Massachusetts is advancing to Step 1 of Phase Four of the state’s reopening plan as of Monday, March 22. The change essentially allows sports venues like Fenway Park and TD Garden to reopen with limited capacities of 12 percent occupancy and eases the restriction on out-of-state travel, particularly for those who have been vaccinated.
All of this comes as the state continues to see improved metrics in the number of positive COVID-19 tests, something that’s also been seen on the Island over the past three weeks. Unlike Nantucket, which saw an uptick after the February school break, no such surge in cases occurred on the Vineyard.
It also comes a day after Baker outlined how the vaccine rollout will continue with people 60 and older eligible to sign up Monday. Then on April 5, vaccine sign-ups open up to individuals 55 and older or with one chronic medical condition. Finally, the entire population over 16 becomes eligible on April 19, which is Patriots Day in the Bay State.
On the Island, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has now administered 8,544 doses of the vaccine, including more than 6,000 first doses. To sign up, you can go to the hospital’s website and click on the yellow bar at the top of the page.
On Wednesday, hospital officials said they are ready for the ramp up.
“We are encouraged by the governor’s announcement [Wednesday] about reaching this stage of the vaccine rollout,” Claire Seguin, chief nurse and chief operating officer at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, told The Times in an email. “At MVH, we have been preparing for this next phase. We have added staffing, a tented annex for increased capacity, and we have a well-tested process. It is our understanding and hope that the supply will catch up with the demand in the days and weeks ahead. Once that happens, we will ramp up quickly and accordingly.”
In a follow up email, Seguin said as of last Friday, the hospital had completely vaccinated 1,383 community members 65 and older and 3,349 individuals in that category have received a first dose. She added that while it’s hard to know the exact number of residents who are 65 and older, the 2019 Dukes County census report projects 4,773 individuals over 65 as of 2020. That would mean the hospital has vaccinated more than 70 percent of that population.
Also effective on Monday, March 22, gathering limits for event venues and in public settings will increase to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 25 people, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people.
The next phase also allows dance floors at weddings and other events, as well as overnight summer camps.
As for travel, the governor announced that his travel order will be replaced with an advisory as of March 22.
Any individuals entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, are advised to quarantine for 10 days if they’ve been out of state for 24 hours or more. Travelers who have a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to their arrival in Massachusetts don’t have to quarantine and those who have been fully vaccinated are also exempt from the advisory.
On Wednesday, the Island boards of health reported one new confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. There have been 946 confirmed cases through testing, and 58 probable cases since the pandemic began a year ago. Maura Valley, Tisbury’s health agent and the spokesperson for the Island boards, wrote in an email Tuesday that the COVID-19 reports will be done on a weekly basis after this week. The weekly reports will be issued on Mondays, she wrote.
The hospital has now administered 14,774 tests, with 670 positive results. There have been 14,044 negative tests and there are 52 results pending.
Meanwhile, TestMV, which is located in the parking lot at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, has now administered 35,010 tests, with 260 positive results, 34,293 negative results, and 457 tests pending.
The town of Aquinnah has conducted 442 tests, of which one has come back positive, 441 negative, with no pending results.
The Martha’s Vineyard public schools have administered 6,976 tests. Of those, four have tested positive. The public school data is updated once a week on Mondays, and for the second week in a row there were no new cases in the schools.
The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has reported a total of seven positive cases of COVID-19.
Due to how tests are conducted, there can be a discrepancy between the number of positive individuals and the number of positive tests reported.
At the state level, there were 1,640 new confirmed cases Wednesday. The state estimates there are 25,397 active cases, and the state’s seven-day average of percent positivity is at 1.92 percent. There were also 44 deaths Wednesday, for a total of 16,399 since March 2020.
Updated to include today’s results on Island.