Vessel employee, terminal employee test positive for COVID-19

Posted: December 30, 2020

6:30 p.m. update: Subsequent to the issuance of the below news release, the Steamship Authority was informed today that an employee assigned to the Vineyard Haven terminal has tested positive for COVID-19. The incident is not related to the vessel employee case disclosed earlier.

The employee last worked at the terminal on Thursday, December 24, 2020. The employee subsequently learned that a relative with whom there had been close personal contact had tested positive for COVID-19. The employee was then tested, received the positive results Wednesday, December 30, 2020, and immediately notified the Authority.

Based on discussions with the Tisbury Board of Health, it is believed that the potential risk of exposure to the public or other Authority employees is extremely low. However, the Authority will work to determine if any employees or members of the public were in close contact with the individual and, as a result, should be tested.

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

• Initial press release is below •

FALMOUTH, Mass. (December 30, 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 Sunday, December 27, 2020, and ended with the vessel’s 11:30 a.m. arrival in Woods Hole on Monday, December 28, 2020. The crew member subsequently was informed of close contact with an individual who had tested positive for COVID-19. The employee was then tested; after receiving the results on Wednesday morning, the employee 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, members of that crew who had worked with the affected employee during their last watch were 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 substitute crew members have been assigned to the vessel so that it will be able to make the rest of its scheduled trips.

Vehicular passengers who were affected by the cancellation will be accommodated aboard the M/V Island Home, which will utilize its lift decks to provide additional capacity as necessary, as well as the M/V Katama. 

The Authority has notified vessel employees who were in close contact with the affected employee. Those employees will not be allowed to return to work until after receiving a negative test result or being cleared work by a medical professional.

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.