A sweeping, state-coordinated public health response has been initiated on remote Cuttyhunk after a recent spike in coronavirus cases, with Department of Public Health nurses testing nearly 100 residents for the virus on the tiny island this week.

Every island resident who wanted a test received one, selectman Gail Blout confirmed in a phone conversation with the Gazette. The town expects results to be available early next week.

“We’re very pleased with the response, and the quickness of the response from the Department of Public Health. It was a very good day. And well organized,” Ms. Blout said. “Everybody who wanted to be tested, was tested.”

The mass testing comes after eight individuals residing on the island tested positive for the virus between Wednesday and Friday of last week, prompting a mandatory mask order and heightened concern from town officials over a more widespread outbreak.

In all, 97 people were tested. Results are expected early next week. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Cuttyhunk is the only public island in the town of Gosnold, the seventh town in Dukes County. It has a summer population that is currently hovering around 250 people and a year-round population in the dozens, making it the smallest town in the state. The island has no hospital and is only accessible via passenger ferry.

An initial, smaller-scale public health response started late last week, when a female who had been residing on the island for approximately a week and a half began showing symptoms of the coronavirus. She immediately left the island to get tested, with the results coming back positive.

After contacting the state DPH, 25 other individuals, including first and second-tier contacts, were tested for the virus last Friday. Seven of those tests came back positive, with patients in multiple families and households.

The most recent batch of testing occurred throughout the day on Thursday, Ms. Blout said, with a troop of three public health nurses and a state epidemiologist descending on the island to conduct the examinations.

Ms. Blout said in all 97 people were tested, with patients expanding beyond the traditional circle of contacts. None of the patients had a fever or showed other symptoms of the virus, according to Ms. Blout.

“It was mostly people who we felt should be tested, elderly people with some health issues, older people with no health issues. We opened it up to the residents, and we tried to get as many residents as possible tested,” Ms. Blout said.

During a selectmen’s meeting Friday morning, concerned islanders peppered Cuttyhunk’s current resident doctor Pam Spatz and selectmen with questions about protocol and next steps. The island’s resident doctor rotates every week during the summer, meaning Cuttyhunk only has one doctor on duty at a time. Dr. Spatz arrived Monday.

Scott MacLeod asked selectmen and Dr. Spatz about the town’s emergency scenario for residents who do test positive. Fire chief Seth Garfield has offered to transport positive residents via ferry with full personal protective gear, while the two ferries to the island have instituted complex safety protocol. Dr. Spatz offered further guidance on Friday.

“We’ve had a couple meetings with the DPH, about the advisability of staying on the Island or leaving,” Dr. Spatz said. “The fact that there’s not definitive care here, or a hospital, I think it’s best to leave the island.”

Selectman Stewart Young also offered guidance for travelers coming to Cuttyhunk and island residents. The Cuttyhunk marina currently remains open, although masks are mandatory.

“From our perspective, from the island’s perspective, it doesn’t really matter if someone is from Connecticut or South Dartmouth. They are from a different place,” Mr. Young said. “So the advice to everybody is to treat anybody who you don’t know, as infectious.”

Much of the island has shuttered since the seven new cases were reported on Monday, officials said. The Cuttyhunk Union Methodist Church was not open for services this past Sunday and plans to be closed for worship this Sunday as well. Soprano’s Pizza is currently closed until further notice. And the Island’s one grocery store has been closed since Monday as well.

Meanwhile, Ms. Blout said the island was waiting anxiously for the results of the 97 tests conducted Thursday.

“We’re hopeful that as many as possible, if not all, were negative,” she said.