The Island boards of health reported six new cases on the Vineyard Friday and one new case in the Island public schools, adding that there are currently 68 active cases on the Island — likely the highest number since the pandemic began.
The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital also confirmed on Friday that it had admitted a patient with Covid-19 on Thursday, the third Covid inpatient in recent months. According to an email from hospital operations officer and head nurse Claire Seguin, the patient is in fair condition (the hospital lists patient conditions as good, fair, serious or critical).
Ms. Seguin did not have an update on the condition of a patient who was transferred to Boston via helicopter in critical condition on Monday, but she added that there had been no further Covid-related medical transfers during the week.
In an expanded weekly case update, health officials reported six new cases Friday, four who were tested at the hospital and two at TestMV. The six cases Friday come after 10 cases were reported on both Wednesday and Thursday, six on Tuesday, and 31 on Monday, for a total of 55 cases this week.
The expanded report also said 68 cases were currently active on the Island, with 42 cases active from individuals who were tested between Nov. 15 and Nov. 20, and 26 active from the week prior. All other positive cases have been released from monitoring and isolation by the Island boards of health.
Since Oct. 25, the Island has reported 156 positive laboratory-confirmed coronavirus tests according to the report, accounting for the Island’s first case surge and 63 per cent of the total 246 cases reported on the Vineyard during the pandemic.
In the expanded report, health agents said 44 per cent of cases have been linked to another case through contact tracing since March. It is not clear what percentage of the cases reported over the past month are linked. However, the report states that there have been at least two recent case clusters, including eight cases stemming from a wedding held on the Island in October and 19 cases connected to Cronig’s Market. Another grouping of nine cases has also been reported, although it is not being classified as a cluster, according to health officials.
“Most connections are within family/household members or small social groups,” the report states.
Health officials have stated in public meetings that a large number of the recent cases have been connected to the trades, and aired stricter safety guidelines for construction and landscape sites at a Zoom forum on Thursday. The new regulations, which mirror the second phase of a building moratorium enacted earlier this spring, limit job sites to 10 workers and require masks at all times, as well as a designated jobsite safety officer answerable to health officials.
Health agents also plan to step up enforcement, including through random site checks and fines or shutdowns for noncompliance.
School officials also reported a new case in Island schools on Friday — at least the 13th connected to the public school system since the pandemic began. The student is in the Edgartown School, according to a chart tracking school cases now available on the school system website (mvyps.org).
The Edgartown student was already in quarantine as a close contact, the release on the wesbite said. According to preliminary contact tracing, the case was not contracted within the school, according to the update.
School superintendent Matt D’Andrea has said there has been no known Covid-19 spread in the Island public schools. But schools have postponed their reopening process indefinitely across the system, and the regional high school closed its building to in-person learning this week after a string of faculty were required to quarantine as close contacts.
The Edgartown School now has a total of three students in quarantine after receiving a positive test, and eight students who are quarantining as close contacts. Five staff members at the school are also in isolation as close contacts.
Two students at the Oak Bluffs School also tested positive for the virus and entered quarantine this week — marking the first students to test positive at the school.
In total, there are currently six students in quarantine due to a positive tests and 47 students in quarantine as close contacts. Another two faculty are quarantining after receiving positive tests, and 19 quarantining as close contacts. Ten quarantining faculty are in the regional high school.
As the virus continues to creep into myriad corners of Island life, the Steamship Authority also announced Friday that an employee on the freight ferry Katama has tested positive. The employee last worked on the ferry watch that began with the 11:05 mornng trip on Nov. 17 and ended with the 10.35 morning trip into Woods Hole on Nov. 18, a press release from spokesman Sean Driscoll said. The employee, who is no longer at work, was unlikely to have had prolonged exposure with the public, the release also said.
It was the third SSA employee on the Vineyard route to test positive this week.
Statewide, case numbers again eclipsed 2,000, with the state Department of Public Health reporting 2,288 new coronavirus cases on Friday as well as 34 new deaths. Overall, more than 194,000 individuals across the state have tested positive since the pandemic began, and 10,238 deaths. The state now has 904 patients hospitalized with the virus.
Maia Coleman contributed reporting.