By Reese Burns, news editor
As many predicted, COVID-19 managed to breach the shores of our island. Whether it came here by means of fleeing residents of large cities in search of a safe haven, travelling workers, or locals returning from vacation, the coronavirus did not exclude Nantucket from its many victims.
As of now, Nantucket has had a total of fourteen cases on the island and one death resulting from the virus, and we have done well in lowering the curve to prevent the Nantucket Cottage Hospital from being overwhelmed. Students have now been out of school since March 13th, and online school has caused students and teachers to make a huge adjustment. Especially with Advanced Placement Exams being altered to an online format where students take their tests at home, it has been quite the interesting experience. Following the school cancellation, senior graduation has been on the minds of everyone all over the country. It is heartbreaking for all members of our community to witness the Nantucket High School Class of 2020 to miss out on the end of their senior year, but parents, faculty, and students are working hard to give our seniors a meaningful send off.
As we trudge into our eleventh week of this quiet, abnormal way of life, it is evident the world is trying to return to normalcy. Thus posing the question: “Is it too soon? Have we made it past the worst of it?” Ultimately, no one truly knows the future plans of COVID-19. Some claim the summer heat will kill the virus while others disagree that the virus has made many stops in countries with warm climates year round. To add, Dr. Robert Redfield, Center for Disease Control (CDC) Director, speculates another spike of cases and deaths in late fall. In addition, a future vaccine for the coronavirus is expected to be available to the public hopefully by early 2021. Despite numerous warnings from health organizations, most of America is taking the risk and entering a multiple phase strategy where we attempt to open up the country, and Nantucket is following suit.
As broadcasted by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Phase 1 of this plan began on May 25th where limited businesses were able to reopen with strict restrictions that will hopefully prevent an overwhelming outbreak. On Nantucket, many restaurants and coffee shops have been open since the stay at home order was announced and have continued to serve the island and provide their services through curbside pickup and takeout. In response to phase 1, hair salons, small offices, and a few other industries have reopened and are slowly resuming operation under safe precautions.
The fate of the island this summer is a hot topic all around. Many year-round residents worry about tourism, for the fear of an outbreak due to the influx of seasonal residents, or the dramatic decrease in income that is to be expected. The Nantucket Cottage Hospital posted a list of suggested procedures for summer residents to take once they arrive on island. For example, as soon as summer residents get on island it is expected that they self-quarantine for a minimum of fourteen days to prevent any spread of the virus. It is hoped for the entire island’s sake that they are taken with serious diligence.
We are living in a chapter of a future history textbook currently. Life revolving around coronavirus has been an unexpected turn of events for 2020, and Nantucket has been very fortunate to have limited the spread of COVID-19 due to fulfilling the state’s orders.