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.
Today’s episode is being filmed at 10:30 am on Friday, May 22nd. Before we begin, I want to remind our viewers that the Town Election is Tuesday, June 16th and the Annual Town Meeting is Thursday, June 25th. Over the past two and a half weeks, we have seen just one new confirmed case of COVID-19 on the island. The current count stands at 14. Today, I am happy to welcome several guests to the show. We will start out with a statement from the hospital with Cottage Hospital Public Information Officer Jason Graziadei. Then, I am excited to interview both our state senator Julian Cyr and our state representative Dylan Fernandes. Finally, we will hear from Steamship Authority Spokesperson Sean Driscoll as we talk about the worker at the Nantucket terminal that tested positive for COVID-19 and the current state of the company.
Let’s begin with the ending of the Massachusetts Stay-at-Home Advisory this past Monday. It has been replaced with a “Safer-at-Homer Advisory”. This new advisory makes up part of the First Phase of Masschuasett’s 4 stage plan to reopen the commonwealth. Phase 1 will last a minimum of 3 weeks. Government and medical professionals will use data to track the spread of the virus and trigger the next phase based on the metrics they are seeing and what nearby states plan to do. As you can see on the graph on your screen, these officials must balance viral risk and economic reward. Each phase permits an additional band of activities that have progressively lower economic benefits and higher viral risk. The goal is to avoid low benefit activities that would easily spread the virus until its threat diminishes.
We will now share 3 tables summarizing the four-phase approach. Let’s run through what “Safer-at-Home” means for the public. No groups over 10 may congregate except in locations I will mention later and only when people maintain social distancing among the other attendees that don’t live with them. People over 65 and those who have underlying health conditions should continue to stay home unless they must perform essential errands. The advisory encourages all other people to leave home only for healthcare, worship, permitted work, shopping, and outdoor activities. Everyone over the age of 5 must wear a face covering when they cannot maintain a social distance in public, such as in stores. The Massachusetts government advises people to limit playdates for their children, wash their hands frequently for 20 seconds with soapy water, avoid close contact activities like pick-up sports games, communicate remotely with tools like video chat, and to be on the lookout for COVID-19 symptoms like a cough, difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and/or a change in taste or smell. For more information, please visit the link describing the advisory in the description.
What does Phase 1 mean for businesses? The answer depends on the business. A few new rules apply to all of them, however. All businesses must complete a CVOID-19 Control Plan template and keep a copy on-premises, but do not need to submit it to anyone. They must print, sign, and post a Compliance Attestation Poster. They must display employer and worker posters describing social distancing, hygiene, and cleaning rules and advice. All these materials are available at the link at the bottom of your screen and in the description. Look for the heading “General Business Guidance”
Essential services remain open. Currently, restaurants can offer curbside pickup and delivery. Nonessential retail stores can only deliver items to customer’s homes while maintaining a social distance. The following establishments may now open: banks, places of worship, in-house services like nannies/ painters/etc., home remodeling businesses, real estate open houses, and hospitals may expand their services to “high priority preventative services, pediatric care, and treatment for high-risk patients”.
All houses of worship must limit their occupancy to 40% of the building’s maximum capacity. All attendants that are not part of the same household must stay 6 ft. apart. All attendees over 5 years of age must wear face coverings. Ample ventilation, easily accessible alcohol-based hand sanitizers and an online registry of expected attendees are recommended.
The full list of requirements and recommendations for houses of worship can be found at the link in the description
Starting May 25th, office spaces, hair salons, drive-in movie theaters, barbershops, car washes, and pet grooming businesses are permitted to open. Starting on that date, curbside delivery is permitted for non-essential retail, auto shops, and libraries. To see a summary list of which businesses can open when and under what restrictions, please visit the link in the description
State beaches open on May 25th. Nantucket beaches technically don’t open with lifeguards until June 15th, but no one will turn you away if you visit now. Once they officially open on June 15th, they will follow the state guidelines. These guidelines currently are: beach-goers must wear face masks when they cannot maintain a social distance of 6 ft. apart from others, but not in the water. No groups larger than 10 are allowed. On the beach, toweling/beach blanket areas should maintain a social distance of 12 feet. Everywhere else, 6 feet is acceptable, including in the restrooms. This means if you do not live with the individuals in your social group, you should stay 6 ft. apart. Organized ball games are prohibited. For Over Sand Vehicles, at least 15 feet should be left between parked cars. The Nantucket Boat Basin is open. Launching boats from Nantucket boat ramps are permitted as long as you stay 6 ft. apart from people you don’t live with and wear face masks when that is not possible. To see a full list of outdoor recreation guidelines, please visit the link in the description.
In order to fall more closely in line with the commonwealth’s directives, the Nantucket Board of Health has eliminated most of the Emergency Orders. The only orders that remain active are Orders #4 and a part of #3. Order #4 extends all recreational shellfish licenses that were set to expire on March 31st indefinitely. Order #3 is the island’s Stay-at-Home Order that also restricts what business may remain open. All of that order’s language no longer applies except the bit restricts restaurants to only providing food for delivery or carry out. No customers should eat the food at the restaurant or at any other gathering site. PLEASE REMEMBER: although most of the Town’s orders aren’t active now, that does not mean many similar policies aren’t in effect. All of the Massachusetts rules and restrictions are in effect on Nantucket, and many of the commonwealth’s policies overlap with the Nantucket Emergency Orders. For example, Nantucket Emergency Order #7 requires masks in public. Order #7 is no longer active, but the Massachusetts “Safer-at-Home” Advisory is active and requires the same measure.
Construction and Landscaping on the island are no longer governed by Nantucket Emergency Orders #1, 5, 8, & 9. Companies simply need to follow the commonwealth’s rules, but with one exception. Although the restrictions to construction in Order 8 and the landscaping restrictions in 9 no longer apply, the Nantucket guidelines do. So, every site should still have a COVID-19 officer. There is still a limit on the number of workers. Up to 6 workers + 1 COVID officer can show up to a site at a given time. It doesn’t matter how many of that 6 are landscapers and construction workers. Any of Order #8’s and #9’s language outside of the Guidelines like restrictions to the type of project, the permit date, and approval requirements no longer apply. To see the Nantucket Guidelines, please visit the links in the description.
The Nantucket Select Board hosted an emergency meeting yesterday to approve funding for two hospital studies. The first study is a random sampling of blood serum of visitors to the hospital seeking blood tests — called a serology study — to look for antibodies of COVID-19 that signify the person had recovered from the virus. The hospital will run the study in partnership with the BROAD Institute and o give the community a baseline of viral prevalence going into the summer. The second study will expand PCR testing for COVID-19 to individuals prioritized by the Board of Health. This testing assesses whether a person currently has the virus. The hospital previously has restricted testing to symptomatic individuals. The Select Board and Finance Committee allocated $261,800 to the serology study and $50,000 to the PCR study with the provisions that I oversee the studies and that the hospital seeks to fundraise enough money to pay half of the Town’s contribution back.
We will continue to provide you with updates on the Coronavirus and impacts for Nantucket. Please tune in to Nantucket Pulse, a wellness segment series with new episodes each week. Hosted by Natalie Ciminero, ITS DESIGNED TO CONNECT OUR VIEWERS WITH LOCAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS THAT CAN HELP US TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES AND OTHERS AROUND US. You can watch on CHANNEL 18 AND NCTV18.ORG. Please share this with friends and family. It’s important that communications remain in place as events continue to unfold and we all remain connected. It’s crucial to get the facts from your local news sources such as the Inquirer and Mirror, 97.7 ACK FM radio, and NCTV Channel 18. Please stay tuned to see a special message to our essential workers from the community.