(April 29, 2021) Nantucket Cottage Hospital officials reported five new positive COVID-19 cases on the island Thursday, bringing the number of cases this week to 31, and the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 1,533.

There were also 39 negative cases Thursday.

“The bulk of all our cases have been from indoor transmissions,” health director Roberto Santamaria told the Select Board at their meeting Wednesday night.

“Little by little we are getting through this, but what’s important to understand with the numbers we’re seeing on Nantucket as well as across the state is that COVID is one of those illnesses that’s going to be here to stay like the flu and the common cold."

There have been five COVID-19 Nantucket deaths since the start of the pandemic, the most recent April 7 – a woman in her mid-50s.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital officials have administered first doses of the vaccine to 7,852 people, and two doses to 5,082 people as of Monday. About 45 percent of the island’s white population is fully vaccinated, while 20 percent of Black, 30 percent of Asian and 11 percent of Hispanic people are fully vaccinated, Santamaria said.

Vaccination of the general public began April 19. (Click here for more information from NCH).

All COVID-19 testing is being conducted at the hospital's 57 Prospect St. drive-through portico to free up additional vaccination space at the New South Road VFW. Testing for those with symptoms and close contacts is held from 7-10 a.m. Monday-Friday.

COVID-19 elective testing for asymptomatic patients (those with no symptoms) is held from 10 a.m.-noon Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-10 a.m. Saturdays. Starting Wednesday, it will be by appointment only. Click here for more.

Hospital staff have collected 31,655 nasal swabs for testing since the start of the pandemic last March. In addition to the 1,533 positive tests, 30,122 have come back negative. For more information about symptomatic and asymptomatic testing, click here.

Gov. Charlie Baker this week laid out his plan to relax COVID-19 restrictions in the coming months, beginning with easing outdoor mask-wearing rules set to take effect on Friday.

His plan also includes raising gathering limits to 200 people indoors and 250 outdoors beginning May 29, which could have a major impact on the local wedding industry.

In the announcement made Tuesday, Baker said face-coverings will only be required outdoors when it is not possible to socially distance, or whenever sector-specific guidance requires it.

"I ask everyone on Nantucket to take personal responsibility and do all you can to reduce the potential for transmission in our community. That means wearing masks, staying physically distant, washing your hands, and not hosting or attending gatherings with people outside your immediate households,"  Nantucket Cottage Hospital president and CEO Gary Shaw said recently.

"Most of all, we want our community to stay healthy, we want our economy to remain open, we want our public schools to be able to return to in-person learning. To that end, we must work together and apply the simple preventive measures that will keep this situation from spiraling out of control."

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