Martha’s Vineyard Hospital reported five new Covid-19 cases on Friday, capping a two week period in which the Island has seen 33 new cases and public health officials have warned that the virus is likely spreading in the community.
The 33 new cases reported since Oct. 25 is by far the most in any two week period since the pandemic began, nearly tripling a previous high of 12 cases set in early July.
On Friday, Tisbury health agent Maura Valley confirmed that the first student in Martha’s Vineyard K through 12 public school system had tested positive for the virus, as well as an individual at the Project Headway preschool in Vineyard Haven. And Cronig’s Market, one of the Island’s staple grocery stores, has closed this weekend after three employees tested positive. Only one of those tests was reported on Friday; the other two occurred on Wednesday and Thursday, according to Ms. Valley.
In an expanded daily demographic update, the boards of health reported that there are currently 17 active coronavirus cases on the Island, three from last week and 14 this week. Including a cluster of eight cases connected to a wedding that was held over Columbus Day weekend on the Island, the report shows that there have been two other large groupings of linked cases in recent days.
One grouping involves five linked individuals, and a second involves six. Overall, the report states that 46 per cent of the total positive cases on the Island have been linked to one another.
Case numbers on the Island have continued to rise after public health officials and the hospital put out a joint statement last Sunday urging Islanders to practice renewed vigilance, mask-wearing and social distancing. The statement suggested that community spread was likely occurring on the Island for the first time since the pandemic began.
In the week since, health officials have reported 13 additional cases, including the cases connected to the schools and grocery store.
In total, 76 patients have tested positive for the virus at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and 47 have tested positive at TestMV. The hospital tests symptomatic patients and their close contacts for the virus, while TestMV is focused on testing asymptomatic patients.
Statewide, cases eclipsed 2,000 new patients for the first time since early May, continuing a precipitous rise that has paralleled a local case increase. Coronavirus cases have risen since Monday, when Governor Charlie Baker instituted new gathering rules and tightened mask restrictions throughout the state.
On Friday, the DPH reported 2,038 new cases and 21 new deaths. More than 162,000 people in the state have now tested positive for the virus, and 9,880 have died. No Covid-19 related deaths have occurred on Martha’s Vineyard.
The hospital did not update its daily web infographic regarding coronavirus numbers on the Island Friday, making it unclear if any patients were hospitalized on the Island.
A community-specific report from the state DPH showed that Edgartown has averaged 10.5 cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks, while Tisbury has averaged 17.1 and Aquinnah has averaged 27.4. But fewer than five people have tested positive in Aquinnah, skewing its average.
Overall, the expanded state report shows that Edgartown has had 23 residents test positive and six in the past 14 days. Tisbury has had 27 positive cases and 10 in the past 14 days. Oak Bluffs has had 18 cases and 5 in the past two weeks. West Tisbury has had 16 cases and zero in the past two weeks. Chilmark has had fewer than five cases.