M/V Martha's Vineyard crew member tests positive for COVID-19

Posted: December 4, 2020

FALMOUTH, Mass. (December 4, 2020) – A Steamship Authority employee assigned to the M/V Martha’s Vineyard has tested positive for COVID-19, the Authority was informed today. As a result, the Authority is taking additional preventative steps to ensure the safety of the public and its employees.

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

The employee last worked on the vessel on the watch that began with the noon trip on Saturday, November 28, 2020, and ended with the vessel’s 11:30 a.m. arrival in Woods Hole on Sunday, November 29, 2020. The employee subsequently developed symptoms of COVID-19 and was tested; the employee received the results Friday morning and immediately notified the Authority.

As the employee was a member of the crew that was due to take its watch with the noon departure of the M/V Martha’s Vineyard from Woods Hole, that crew was instructed not to report for duty on the vessel. The noon departure from Woods Hole and the 1:15 p.m. departure from Vineyard Haven were cancelled as a result, but a substitute crew was able to be assembled to allow the vessel to make the rest of its scheduled trips.

Due to their typical work duties, the COVID-19 positive employee was unlikely to have any prolonged exposure with any member of the public during their work hours.

In partnership with the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment and Cape Cod Healthcare, COVID-19 testing was arranged for the other crewmembers on Friday, December 4, 2020. Those employees will not be allowed to return to work until after a negative test result is received or are cleared to work by a medical professional.

“Both the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment and Cape Cod Healthcare have been invaluable partners to the Authority since the onset of the pandemic,” General Manager Robert B. Davis said. “Their willingness to arrange this immediate testing for our crew is just one example of their assistance to us and to the entire community, and they have my sincere gratitude.” 

Every night, Steamship Authority personnel use hospital-grade disinfectants on board all vessels to perform a cleaning of both public and employee areas. The cleaning is part of the precautionary measures taken daily by the Authority’s terminal employees and vessel crews to thoroughly clean and disinfect all high-touch areas, including hand railings, table tops, door handles, seats, faucets, and toilets. In addition, crews are assigned nightly to perform cleaning and disinfectant measures onboard the vessels.

Employees have been instructed that, under no circumstances, should they come to work while they are sick, both for their safety as well as for 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.