Island boards of health reported eight new coronavirus cases Wednesday and Tisbury and Chilmark joined three other towns in approving strict construction guidelines as case numbers continued to grow on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday.
In a daily case update, health agents reported that eight new patients had tested positive for the virus Wednesday, seven from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and one from TestMV, bringing the Island total to 278 confirmed laboratory positive cases. Thirty-eight cases have been reported since last Friday.
One patient is currently hospitalized with the virus, according to a 3 p.m. update from the hospital. In an email to the Gazette, hospital operations officer and head nurse Claire Seguin confirmed that the patient was hospitalized on Thursday, Nov. 19 and would be discharged soon.
The hospital, which is testing symptomatic patients and their close contacts for the virus, has now had 198 patients test positive. Another 85 patients have tested positive at TestMV, which is focused on asymptomatic testing.
More than half the positive cases have occurred in the past month, accounting for the first surge in coronavirus cases on the Island. Case numbers have also grown statewide, and continue to break record daily highs nationally.
The CDC, state Department of Public Health and Island hospital and health officials have urged residents not to travel during the holiday.
Both Tisbury and Chilmark joined Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and West Tisbury in unanimously approving new rules for the construction industry that limit job-sites to ten workers, require masks at all times and in vehicles, and require sites to have a safety officer answerable to enforcement agents.
The approval by Tisbury and Chilmark boards of health officially certifies the new regulations in all Island towns except tiny Aquinnah.
At the Chilmark meeting Wednesday night, selectmen thanked health agents for acting swiftly to introduce the new guidelines after noticing a large number of cases among tradespeople on the Island. They also noted that Islandwide compliance would be crucial.
“The nice thing about adopting these regulations put all the towns in unison,” board of health member Katie Carroll said.
With five towns now on-board, selectmen agreed that enforcement would have to be strong as well.
“I want everyone to know that you have the support of the selectmen in enforcing this,” selectman James Malkin said. “We can’t fool around with this. We have to be serious.”
State case numbers were not available as of 5:45 p.m. Wednesday evening.