The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has reported an uptick in confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the Island. There are now eight confirmed cases, the hospital said in a press briefing held Monday at noon, five more than as of Saturday.

There have been 91 tests; 73 were negative and 10 are pending, hospital leaders said.

Construction ban will stay in place until April 7. — Mark Alan Lovewell

No one is currently hospitalized for Covid-19.

In related news, public officials on the Vineyard and Nantucket announced Monday that construction bans on both Islands will remain in place following a Sunday conference call with three senior executives for Gov. Charlie Baker.

“The governor’s representatives stated that the local boards of health retain the power to ban construction if warranted by local considerations,” a statement posted on the Edgartown website said Monday morning.

“The orders of our local boards of health expire on April 7. During the next week, we intend to work with construction trades to develop a protocol for what happens after that date. In the meantime, we strongly urge everyone to comply with our order,” the statement also said.

The telephone conference call held late Sunday afternoon included selectmen, boards of heath, police chiefs and fire chiefs, the CEOs of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and the Nantucket Cottage Hospital, and Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Dylan Fernandes, according to the statement.

Representing the governor on the call were chief legal counsel, chief of staff, and legislative liaison, it said.

The standoff between the governor and the two Islands over the construction ban began last week when Robert Ross, the governor’s chief legal counsel, sent a letter notifying state municipalities that they could not adopt orders that are stricter than Governor Baker’s advisory for a stay-at-home order that was issued early last week. At that stage construction bans were already under way in Island towns.

A wide coalition of leaders and also builders on both Islands formed to oppose the governor’s directive, saying that overturning the construction ban would put the health and safety of the Islands at risk. The Island hospitals, with 25 beds and 14 beds respectively, are bracing for a surge in Covid-19 cases, which is expected in the weeks ahead.

In a followup email to Mr. Ross Monday morning Senator Cyr pressed the chief legal counsel on the takeaway from the Sunday telephone conference call.

“Representative Fernandes and I would like to further memorialize our conversation on March 29,” Senator Cyr wrote. “Per our conversation, towns on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket who cannot guarantee that construction projects are conducted safety are able to employ their authority under their board of health to halt these projects. As discussed, each of the seven island towns have well documented the public health concerns and exposure risks associated with construction projects. Is this correct?”

Mr. Ross replied in part:

“Regarding construction projects, the municipality must be satisfied that a project can be conducted safely. If the town cannot guarantee that construction projects are conducted safely, they are able to employ their authority under their board of health to halt these projects.”

Reached by phone late Monday morning, West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand said that she couldn’t speak for all the Island towns, but that West Tisbury had a similar interpretation of the meeting as the one presented in the Edgartown statement.

“We were all on the same call,” Ms. Rand said. “I don’t think any of us walked away with a different interpretation.”

Ms. Rand said that town leaders told the governor’s office in the bluntest terms the dire nature of the Islands’ limited resources.

“What was expressed to the governor was our concern that our hospitals, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket collectively, absolutely positively can’t handle any extra. We can’t handle extra construction injuries. We can’t handle extra infections from people coming over on the boat every day to work. We don’t have the capacity. And we are unique in that we have people coming over every day on the boat to work.”