A week that saw coronavirus numbers surge on the Island — impacting a wide swath of civic and public life — concluded with eight new cases Friday, as health officials reported a record 55 currently active on the Vineyard.
Previous active case highs likely hovered under ten until two weeks ago, when the Island started to experience its first spike in case numbers. Health agents have said that community spread is occuring for the first time on the Island, and have urged Islanders to practice renewed vigilance regarding mask-wearing, social distancing and travel.
In a daily case update Friday, health officials reported eight new cases on the Island, four of which were tested at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and four of which were tested at TestMV. The hospital had reported two new cases as of its update at 9:30 a.m. Friday morning; the two additional hospital cases were reported by health agents later in the day.
No patients are currently hospitalized with the virus, according to the hospital’s daily update.
In the expanded demographic update released Friday afternoon, the Island boards of health reported that 51 patients have tested positive between Sunday, Nov. 8 and Friday, Nov. 13, including an additional eight new patients Friday. Of those, 47 cases are currently active, the report states, while four have been completed and released from isolation.
An additional eight cases reported last week are still active as well, health agents reported, while 16 have been released from isolation.
The Island has reported a total of 93 cases since Oct. 25, accounting for just over half of the 183 total cases that have occurred on the Vineyard since the pandemic began. Eighteen of those cases were reported in October; the rest have come in the first two weeks of November.
Health agents also reported in the expanded update that 39 per cent of Island cases have been linked to another case.
A recent cluster of 19 cases included in the report is connected to employees at Cronig’s Market, Tisbury health agent Maura Valley confirmed in an email to the Gazette. The 19 cases connected to the store is one more than reported on Thursday, and includes 14 employees and five of their family members.
Cronig’s re-opened on Thursday with limited hours and staffing, and said in a release that it would also be open Saturday. Staff are being required to test negative before returning to work, Ms. Valley confirmed.
Another cluster of eight cases is connected to an Island wedding that was held over Columbus Day Weekend. Two other recent clusters include groupings of five and six people respectively. All other cases appear to be unconnected, although contact tracing remains ongoing, health agents have said.
The recent case surge has included ten cases in Island schools, forcing the Edgartown School to delay an expansion of in-person learning that was scheduled to occur earlier this week. In a letter to parents Thursday, school superintendent Matt D’Andrea said other schools would continue to expand in-person learning on schedule and asserted with confidence that cases had not been spread in the schools.
On Thursday, The Ritz in Oak Bluffs, which has been home to Dilly’s Taqueria since the pandemic began, announced that it would be closed until Tuesday, Nov. 17 after an employee tested positive for the virus.
The spike in cases has also led to the cancellation of two town meetings, in Aquinnah and Oak Bluffs, and pushed town officials to contemplate stricter public health enforcement.
Cases continued to spike statewide, with the state reporting 2,674 new patients on Friday — the fourth consecutive day that case numbers have topped 2,000. After implementing a suggested gathering curfew, shortening restaurant hours and tightening mask rules across the state, Gov. Charlie Baker has not insituted any new lockdown requirements.
The state’s positive test rate is now at 3.12 per cent, quadruple its level in early October, and 687 patients are hospitalized — more than double October levels.