Today's Nantucket

Nantucket in the Time of COVID-19: A Letter to Our Summer Residents

April 28, 2020 0 comments
Spring on Nantucket Island

Nantucket is known for its hospitality, and every summer we welcome thousands of summer residents who love their seasonal island home. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 season will be unlike any other. Here at Nantucket.net, we think this gives us all the opportunity to enjoy Nantucket Island in ways we have not previously done. Governor Baker of Massachusetts has just extended the state’s stay-at-home advisory and ban on large gatherings through May 18, 2020. Here in this Nantucket Blog and on Yesterday’s Island/Today’s Nantucket, we will highlight for visitors and residents (year-round and seasonal) many of those activities that can be enjoyed with appropriate distance.

The following is a letter to island homeowners who live on Nantucket seasonally; it offers guidance on how they can participate in keeping themselves and everyone on the island safe during the pandemic. These suggestions were written jointly by Nantucket Cottage Hospital, the Town of Nantucket Selectboard, the Nantucket Chamber, and Nantucket Town Manager, and are meant for seasonal residents, not for hotel visitors or short-term rentals. Any recommendations relating to quarantine pertain to the timeframe Governor Baker set forth, which is currently through May 18…

“As you consider a return to the island we wanted to reach out to our seasonal residents with some guidance and best practices to ensure that the summer will be as safe as possible for everyone on Nantucket.  While you have been away, much has transpired on the island. Early in January Nantucket Cottage Hospital and the Town of Nantucket leadership initiated their planning and response to the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. In a sweeping effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 on the island, Nantucket Cottage Hospital, the Town of Nantucket government departments, and State leaders led major initiatives to protect the health of Nantucket residents. 

The really good news: Spring is here, flowers abound, your homes wait for your return, and so far, the island has largely been spared from the catastrophic spread of COVID-19. As an island community, we have been successful in limiting the extent of the impact of the coronavirus on Nantucket by implementing early and vigilant physical distancing measures, as well as the collective actions of our citizens, and the relative isolation of our island. However, we are concerned that this could change when our population increases going into the summer.  

The opportunity: Nantucket has the chance to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic as a public health success story, with our population safe and healthy. But despite our initial success, Nantucket remains highly vulnerable to infected persons and asymptomatic carriers of the virus coming from off the island, whether they are seasonal residents, year-round residents, workers or day-trippers, who could prompt a major surge in new cases.  

How you can be part of this: We are asking the beloved members of our community who will be returning to Nantucket in the coming weeks and months to please take the following actions to ensure the safety of your community: 

  • Self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days once reaching your destination. It is best to go directly to your destination and not stop elsewhere on the island on the way.
  • Bring all necessary food and supplies with you to enable the 14-day quarantine, including prescriptions, personal health items and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Contact Nantucket Cottage Hospital by calling 508-825-1000 if you are exhibiting flu-like symptoms or experiencing respiratory illness during or after quarantine to receive instructions on accessing appropriate care.
  • Comply with all local, state, and federal directives and recommendations regarding physical distancing and other measures to limit the spread of the virus. 
  • Wear face masks in public places when physical distancing is difficult.
  • Refrain from hosting or attending private home parties or large gatherings.  Instead, order take-out food or have it delivered from local restaurants.  
  • Be diligent with hand-washing and disinfecting much-used surfaces. 
  • Limit trips to the grocery store. 

“This guidance will continue to evolve over the spring and summer, so please check the Town of Nantucket and Nantucket Cottage Hospital websites frequently for updates.  

“Many island businesses have adapted to the situation by offering curbside pickup, takeout meals, online shopping, and by limiting the number of patrons inside their locations. We encourage you to take advantage of these options and abide by these limitations that are meant to protect all of us. There are also new delivery options that will allow you to support the local island businesses and restaurants you love from the safety and comfort of your home, as well as virtual visit options with medical providers at Nantucket Cottage Hospital that provide access from your phone or computer.

“There are likely to be more services provided via delivery or by video conference in order to maintain physical distancing. We are looking forward to welcoming the many people who help make Nantucket a special place. We know this season will be unlike any that came before it, and it will take some time for all of us to adjust to the new normal. We want to ensure that the measures which have so far kept our community safe are embraced and practiced by all those coming to Nantucket.  In closing, thank you for weighing all of this information as you consider a return to the island. We look forward to being back together again as soon as possible in a safe and responsible manner. “

Sincerely, 
Gary A. Shaw, FACHE, President & CEO, Nantucket Cottage Hospital
Dawn Hill Holdgate, Chair, Nantucket Select Board
C. Elizabeth Gibson, Town Manager, Town of Nantucket
Kristie Ferrantella, Interim President, Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce