Nantucket reports 19 new COVID-19 cases; cluster connected to church gathering on island – The Boston Globe

“Among these new cases is a cluster connected to a church gathering on the island,” the statement said. “This incident should serve as a reminder to the community to avoid large gatherings, and always wear a mask when out in public when physical distancing is not possible.”

The statement added that town officials urge businesses and organizations to review COVID-19 safety protocols with employees, and to ensure physical distancing is enforced in areas where staff and members of the public gather.

Any employees with symptoms should be allowed to stay home from work and also should be referred to the hospital for an evaluation, according to the statement.

“Nantucket remains classified by the state of Massachusetts as a high risk (red) community for COVID-19 transmission, based on the average daily cases per 100,000 residents,” the statement said. “To bring this current surge in new cases of COVID-19 under control, we will need the entire island to work together to keep cases down. We urge everyone in the community to stay vigilant.”

Separately Sunday, Nantucket Cottage Hospital reported that one employee had tested positive for the virus.

“As soon as the testing result was known, the employee was isolated while NCH Infection Control and Occupational Health began working immediately to identify any potential exposures and directing them to take the appropriate next steps as required by our infection control policies. At this time, we are not aware of any other individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of exposure to this staff member.”

A hospital spokesman said that as of Tuesday morning, nothing had changed “with regard to this situation.”

The island as of Sept. 23 was averaging 26.5 positive cases per 100,000 people over the prior two weeks, according to the state Department of Public Health’s weekly roundup of communities. More than eight cases per 100,000 puts a municipality into the red high-risk category.

Sunday’s statement from the town followed news earlier this month that Nantucket officials had reported a spike in COVID-19 cases and were seeing “community spread” among tradespeople working in construction, landscaping, and cleaning who shared transportation to workplaces.

“These are the highest number of cases in a short period of time that we have so far seen in Nantucket,” said Select Board Chairwoman Dawn Hill Holdgate in an earlier statement on that spike. “While this is not an unanticipated situation, due to the nature of the coronavirus, we can expect episodic growth in the number of cases over the next 10 to 14 days.”

And in late-July, officials voted during a joint meeting of the Nantucket Board of Health and the Select Board to mandate that establishments close at midnight, with an 11:30 p.m. last call for alcohol. The order did not apply to restaurants that don’t serve alcohol.

That decision was made after many island visitors had been seen leaving restaurants inebriated after closing, often without masks or not observing social distancing.

“It’s mostly at night that we’re seeing the problems,” said Roberto Santamaria, the town’s health and human services director, back in July when the island decided to institute midnight closings.

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.

Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.

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