Thanks to Nantucket Community Television for producing this PSA!
As President of Nantucket Cottage Hospital, I would like to clarify and expand upon our position going forward. It is our mission to ensure the health and safety of all Islanders. While we recommend safe behaviors, we do not regulate or enforce any actions by Nantucketers. Throughout the course of this pandemic we have offered input on safe practices and safe behaviors, and Nantucket’s residents have demonstrated remarkable maturity and patience in committing to actions that have proven to benefit the island as a whole.
By way of background, in January the coronavirus began to spread beyond China to Europe and ultimately to the United States. As challenging a problem as this was for our country as a whole, Nantucket was faced with some uniquely challenging circumstances. If COVID-19 took hold, it could be significant given the size of our hospital, the limitations of caring for patients during a surge, getting large numbers of people off the island if necessary, and the potential that our health system would be challenged and could not handle a surge coming from the island. As the disease morphed from an outbreak to a pandemic, Nantucket was facing a significant healthcare challenge.
By early March, the hospital took as aggressive a stand as possible to discourage visitors from coming to the island and for those already here to self-quarantine and to encourage physical distancing and other appropriate precautions. As we observed travel from several COVID-19 hotspots in the Northeast in March, our concerns multiplied, as did our guidance to restrict people’s interaction and activities on the island.
Today, thanks to our remarkably gifted staff, the incredible support, partnership, and professionalism from Partners Healthcare, now known as Mass General Brigham, and the impressive compliance from Nantucketers to respect and adhere to prudent social behavior, we currently have had only 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island that we know of. In fact, we experienced 23 days with no cases.
As we approach the summer season, we are faced with a new set of challenges. We know there are many who believe we must continue to restrict activity and commerce on the island with the goal of keeping the virus in check. We also know there are many others who would like the economy to resume immediately in an effort to save jobs and businesses which are now threatened. It is my belief that these two schools of thought are not necessarily mutually exclusive and that we may be able achieve both of these objectives. The process of finding the balance is the purview of the Town of Nantucket, within the parameters of the state’s recommendations and regulations, and in keeping with advice from health care experts, legal experts, and the best interests of the community.(more…)