Good evening.  I am Roberto Santamaria, your host this evening for Nantucket Pulse programming made possible by Nantucket Cottage Hospital Community Health Initiative.

This is a special edition of the Nantucket Pulse program that will air weekly covering the coronavirus impacts for the island, and will provide urgent updates as they unfold.

The hospital, along with the Town of Nantucket Health Department, has started to trace the patients’ previous contact with other individuals and hospital staff to warn them about infection. Infection Control Nurse at the hospital is administering an in-depth questionnaire with the patients to identify any places of concern.

In the effort to stay on top of the virus, the hospital is reaching out to the community again. They are asking for active or retired physicians to sign up as part of the reserve staff at the hospital if the need arises during the COVID-19 response. The hospital is “able to do emergency credentialing and licensing as the state of Massachusetts has relaxed the rules around this process.” If you would like to sign up please call 508-825-8118 or email the address at the bottom of your screen.

The hospital is also reminding people to please donate N95 respirator masks, regular ear loop masks, medical gloves, and gowns. Masks are especially needed and homemade masks are still useful! You can really help the hospital prepare by making some, and it only requires a few supplies. You can visit the link at the bottom of the screen to learn how to make them yourself. Please drop off any donated item to the NCH loading dock, behind the hospital off Vesper Lane, daily between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

The hospital needs to keep the amount of its patients low in order to effectively care for the ones that need it. To this end, Police Chief Pittman has encouraged Nantucketers to contact state lawmakers to instruct the ferries to limit the passengers coming to the islands. Both Nantucket Cottage Hospital CEO & President, Gary Shaw, and Martha’s Vineyard Hospital CEO Denise Schepici issued a joint statement advising travelers not to come to the islands except for essential reasons only. To owners of summer houses, they recommend staying at your primary residence.

Cape and Islands District State Senator Julian Cyr and State Rep. for Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket District Dylan Fernandes made this point in a joint press release to Governor Baker and Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Massachusetts Health and Human Services.

They said, “Each hospital has very limited beds, fewer ventilators, and only several days supply of PPE; healthcare personnel is inherently limited, given their geographic isolation. Contributing to the challenges facing island hospitals are the large number of individuals of all ages who have traveled to each island to “ride out the Virus.” They echoed a message sent to the governor by Mass General Hospital & Partners Healthcare that said “We urge the Administration and Command Center, in consultation with experts in epidemiology, to explore whether a ban of all non-essential travel to the islands is in the best public health interest for island residents, given their limited access to healthcare resources and their geographic isolation.With the mobilization of the National Guard, we strongly request your consideration of deployment of personnel to each island. The CEO’s of both hospitals are worried about the safety of their staff and the need for additional assistance with triage in the event of a surge in hospitalizations. Both Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have limited police and public safety resources, particularly during the off-season. If moderate or worse projections come to pass on either island, an unmanageable surge will occur.”

According to the Vineyard Gazette, the Steamship Authority has reduced six regularly scheduled ferries starting Sunday as officials hope traffic declines to the islands.

In response to a question about travelers thinking about visiting the islands, Governor Baker said, “We would prefer that they not do that and that they stay on the mainland and don’t create additional issues for both of those islands at a point in time when they don’t have level of service capacity in place that they typically would have had in the summer.” according to Boston news station NECN.

Gov. Charlie Baker, meanwhile, announced a stay-at-home “advisory” for the state’s nearly 7 million residents.

Baker also ordered all nonessential businesses in Massachusetts to close until at least April 7, beginning Tuesday.  “These aggressive social distancing measures put in place today are designed to give public experts the time they need to ramp up additional steps that must be taken to effectively push back the virus,” Baker said, adding that other parts of the world have shown this is possible.

Grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses that provide essential goods and services will continue to operate. He encourages restaurants, Bars, and other establishments that sell food to continue to do so through takeout and delivery. To see a full list of the businesses considered “essential services”, please visit the link at the bottom of your screen.

Now I’d like to end on a good note. We have a new food delivery service designed to help our seniors. In order to assist Nantucket residents 60 and over who do not qualify for “Meals on Wheels”, the Town of Nantucket Health and Human Services Department — in partnership with “or, the Whale” and “Sandbar at Jetties Beach” — have started a new, no-cost meal delivery program. Staff from these two restaurants will prepare and deliver meals. To learn more, please call the Saltmarsh Senior Center at 508-228-4490 between 9 am and noon, Monday through Friday.

News Bulletin

Good evening. This is Lisa Getter giving you  a news bulletin following NCTV’s Nantucket Pulse program.  This is a special segment that covers the Coronavirus impacts on the island.

Let’s begin with some good news. The IRS announced on March 20, 2020 that it has moved the April 15, 2020 tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020 which means you have until July 15th to file AND pay your 2019 income taxes.  It remains unclear if an extension is required on April 15th if you feel you need the full 6 month extension that’s already in place, making your extended due date Oct 15, 2020.

The states have not issued formal statements on if they are extending the due date, but as of now, the state of Massachusetts has said they plan to follow suit with the IRS and are merely awaiting formal publication.   Please check with your accountant as we all see rules are changing on a daily basis at this stage.

In the wake of Governor Charlie Baker’s declaration of a state of emergency, the Massachusetts RMV has extended emissions inspection expiration dates to encourage social distancing. Here is a brief rundown:

Non commercial inspection stickers — or failed inspection stickers — that expire  on March 31 have until May 31. Those that expire on April 30 have until June 30. Please note that if the vehicle failed inspection due to a safety defect (indicated by a red letter “R”), they must continue NOT to operate until the appropriate repairs are completed. If you have a newly registered vehicle purchase in March, it now has until May 31 for inspection. If you purchased it in April, you have until June 30.

Please be aware that the vehicle inspection office is operating under reduced hours**

Stay tuned for further updates, thank you for listening. I’m Lisa Getter, have a safe and good night.