Second vessel employee tests positive for COVID-19

Posted: August 30, 2020


UPDATE (5:15 p.m. August 30, 2020) – The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority is announcing further schedule changes for Monday, August 31, and Tuesday, September 1, 2020 as follows:

  • The M/V Sankaty, which completed one round trip on the Nantucket route Sunday, will remain on that route Monday and Tuesday. It will run in place of the M/V Woods Hole for that vessel’s first two scheduled round trips of the day. The third scheduled round trip, which was slated to leave Hyannis at 5:30 p.m. and leave Nantucket at 8:00 p.m. both days, will be canceled.
  • As the M/V Sankaty will be servicing the Nantucket route, all scheduled trips of the M/V Sankaty on the Vineyard route on Monday and Tuesday will be canceled.
  • The M/V Woods Hole will temporarily return to the Vineyard route. On Monday, it will run in place of the M/V Governor for all seven (7) of that vessel’s scheduled round trips. On Tuesday, it will run the first four (4) scheduled round trips of the M/V Governor. The last three (3) round trips of the day (leaving Woods Hole at 2:50 p.m., 5:20 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. and leaving Vineyard Haven at 4:05 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.) for that vessel will be canceled. The M/V Governor will be secured in Woods Hole during this time.

These changes are being made in the interest of the safety of the Authority’s crews and passengers and due to its reduced manning capabilities as it awaits testing of employees who may have had contact with the two (2) COVID-19 positive crew members. The Authority has arranged with its partners at Cape Cod Healthcare to have twenty-three (23) of its employees tested for COVID-19 on Monday at a CCH facility. After those results are known, the Authority will make further determinations about the schedules for the remainder of the week. The Authority extends its thanks to Cape Cod Healthcare, as well as local public health officials, for their assistance in this matter.

Additionally, all vehicle reservation activity has been temporarily halted through Tuesday, September 8, 2020, to allow our reservations staff the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to the schedule. It is anticipated that reservation activity will resume mid-morning on Monday; an announcement will be made when customers can book or change their trips online, by calling our reservation office or at a terminal.

Earlier release below

FALMOUTH, Mass. (August 30, 2020) – A second Steamship Authority vessel employee in as many days has tested positive for COVID-19, the Authority was informed Saturday. The positive test result will cause some changes to the Authority’s schedule on Sunday, August 30, 2020, to ensure the safety of its crewmembers and passengers.

The Authority is not disclosing the employee’s name or position within the company to ensure their private health information remains confidential.

The employee who learned of their positive test result on Saturday has recently worked on both the M/V Woods Hole and the M/V Governor. It has not been determined if this situation is linked to the positive test result of the M/V Woods Hole vessel employee that the Authority announced on Friday. However, out of an abundance of caution and given the proximity of the two incidents, the Authority is taking the following steps to limit possible spread of the disease between its crewmembers, to ensure its continuity of its operations, and to maintain the safety of the public and its employees:

  • The M/V Woods Hole, which is currently on the Nantucket run, will be removed from service on Sunday, August 30, 2020 and will move to the Authority’s Fairhaven maintenance facility for berthing. The vessel’s first round trip has been canceled; the Authority is attempting to run additional service with a replacement vessel on Sunday on the Nantucket run in its place.
  • The first three trips of the M/V Governor will be canceled between Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven on Sunday, August 30, 2020. The vessel is scheduled to make its 12:20 p.m. departure from Woods Hole and all the subsequent trips for the day.

The employee last worked on the M/V Governor on Saturday, August 29, 2020, and on the M/V Woods Hole on the shift ending with the vessel’s 11:30 a.m. arrival in Hyannis on Friday, August 28, 2020.

Both vessels will be cleaned by outside vendors on Sunday as a supplement to the daily cleanings that all Authority vessels currently undergo. As a reminder, terminal employees and vessel crews thoroughly clean and disinfect all high-touch areas, including hand railings, table tops, door handles, seats, faucets, and toilets, multiple times a day. Additional crews are also assigned to perform cleaning and disinfecting measures on board each vessel overnight.

As with Friday’s reported positive test result, this employee was unlikely to have prolonged exposure with any member of the public during the employee’s work hours due to their typical work duties. The Authority will continue to work closely with public health officials in Barnstable County to guide its efforts to share information and public health recommendations with passengers and Steamship employees who may have come into contact with the employee.

Employees have been instructed that, under no circumstances, should they come to work while they are sick, both for their safety as well as the safety of the crew and traveling public. Additionally, employees have been instructed to wear cloth face coverings, to wash their hands frequently and use hand sanitizer. Vessel employees also undergo a health screening by a medical professional prior to each watch.

“Although I know the inconvenience Sunday’s trip cancelations will cause for our customers, I believe it is a necessary step to take for the general welfare of our customers and crews,” General Manager Robert B. Davis said. “Our employees have done an extraordinary job following our COVID-19 protocols thus far, for which I am grateful. However, given the proximity of these two test results and the number of crew members who have potentially been exposed, these temporary operational changes are the best way to ensure the health and safety of everyone.”

The Authority will continue to monitor the situation on Sunday and additional announcements about any potential further schedule changes will be forthcoming.