Update: Island confirmed cases hit 24

Baker stresses importance of contact tracing.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 hold at 23. — Lexi Pline

Updated 4:15 pm 

The number of confirmed cases on-Island continues to rise, hitting 24 Thursday afternoon, according to the Martha’s Vineyard boards of health.

Overall, the Martha’s Vineyard has tested 537 people with 23 positive tests, 513 negative tests, and one pending test. As of Thursday, no COVID-19 patients are being hospitalized on the Island. 

The 24th case was a patient who was tested off-Island and therefore was not counted in the hospital’s update.

Of the 24 confirmed cases, 13 are female and 11 are male. Eight of the cases are aged 50-59 years old, seven cases are 60-69 years old, two are 30-39 years old, five are 20-29 years old, one is 40-49, and another is 20 years old or younger.

The hospital has implemented new criteria for the tests. Schepici said the biggest change is the removal of the age criteria, allowing for testing of all symptomatic patients. Testing has also been expanded to anyone who is showing symptoms of a new cough, a new sore throat, a fever, new nasal congestion, new shortness of breath, new muscle aches, and new loss of smell.

At the state level Thursday, the number of newly reported confirmed cases was 1,696 and new deaths were at 132. There are now a total of 73,721 cases and 4,552 deaths statewide. Hospitalizations remained steady at 5 percent of the total cases and 351,632 people have been tested for COVID-19.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker stressed the importance of large-scale contact tracing because of how “insidious” COVID-19 can be.

“This virus for many people is asymptomatic. They’re not going to show symptoms, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a carrier and it doesn’t mean they can’t infect other people — they can,” Baker said. “This virus makes some people deathly ill, it actually kills other people, and there’s a bunch of people there’s no apparent outward sign at all.”

He urged people to answer the phone for contact tracing. Caller ID should display MA COVID Team

“If you get a call or a text from your local board of health or the COVID team it’s vital you take that call,” Baker said.

Contact tracing phone calls should come from an 833 or 857 phone number, according to Baker. So far, the joint effort between the Department of Public Health, local boards of health, and Partners in Health, a non-profit healthcare organization based in Boston, has connected with 14,000 individuals with a confirmed case of COVID-19, reaching out to 7,500 of their close contacts. Baker also added that the median number of close contacts has been two, a sign that social distancing is working.

With only 50 percent of calls being answered, Baker stressed the importance of answering the phone. 

Callers will not ask for Social Security, bank, or other personal information.


Updated to include current state numbers and new confirmed case on-Island. — Ed.


  1. Since they are lifting some of the criteria to get tested, more people can and will get tested and that will bring our numbers up. I hope people don’t start to panic (more).

    • Yes the more tested the more likely we are to find more positives. We need to keep in mind that a positive test is nothing more than that. It does not indicate the level of illness of the positive individual. The better metric in this case is hospitalization rate. If we look at total numbers across the state currently 5% are in the hospital. The vast majority of cases fall into the mild or moderate classification and have never been hospitalized. If hospitalization rates increase on the island that speaks to a more serious situation. The goal of social distancing was never to drive cases to 0 but to allow time to build our hospital capacity. We need from an immunologic perspective to have people contract the virus. As this will help herd immunity. If we wait for a vaccine we may be waiting a very long time. Proper social distancing and prudent public health intervention will allow for some opening of the state. Those are higher risk will likely need to take more stringent precautions for the foreseeable future. Will this summer look like the last few no. However, a simpler summer with fewer people might be a needed change.

      • “A simpler summer with fewer people might be a needed change.” Well, maybe. But fewer people will also mean a lot of restaurants, bars, and other businesses getting boarded up.

  2. 1 new case is not news it just adds to the fear factor every time it’s reported

    • swimmer– you should be afraid– you should be very afraid. The United States, as of March 7 has nearly 1 million active cases.

      • I’m not sure what good your fear-mongering comments are doing anyone. Better to stay calm and rational in these times –– stress is very hard on the immune system!

        • SARS COVID-2 is even harder than stress on the mimmune system. 78, 469 deaths warrants a belief that someone or something is dangerous.

        • gardener– perhaps we should be fear mongering about illegal immigrants killing 6 Americans a year instead of talking about the united states death toll being near a 9/11 tragedy every day because of the incompetence of our great leader. Or perhaps we can fear monger about socialist politicians who want to destroy our country and take away all our guns.
          Or the fake news– take you pick.
          Anything but be afraid of something really deadly.
          let’s just talk about TDS and fake news. And Hillary, and how , almost 4 years ago, trump found the cupboards bare, and decided the best thing to do was throw away the cupboards. No bare cupboards here–

  3. With all the raging vitriol at summer residents and visitors it’s amazing that an Islander tests positive off island which means they traveled off the island and potentially infected others. No one can come on island say the masses but we can travel off it? We have no idea who has or doesn’t have the virus. To think for one moment that there are not hundreds of cases here already is pure ignorance. It is what it is and there is likely not going to be a vaccine anytime soon, despite what anyone says. So we need to forge forward slowly and safely.

    • We have no idea why that person was tested off-Island. Could’ve been part of medical transfer. And with all of this complaining, I’m wondering if people just read what they want to read and discard all reasoned advice. I saw plenty of Islanders who only pointed out the facts about our limited resources and the ability for anyone — yes, including other Islanders — to transmit the virus. Their words and intentions were twisted into something ugly that simply isn’t there. The hospital is “unwelcoming” for saying quarantine is prudent during a global pandemic. Some responded to these warnings from our officials and neighbors with tantrums, threats to cut off MVH from donations, and remarks about locals being inbred of all things. Because that’s not vitriolic at all. I’d say people having an extreme reaction just to being told not to travel should consider that their safety, as well as everyone else’s, was being thought of. And Islanders shouldn’t take this opportunity to play the “my family’s been here __ generations” game. This isn’t an MV exclusivity thing because if it were, we wouldn’t be seeing the same warnings in many other resort towns. I was asked not to head to my original summer destination. I don’t feel like a victim because of it. It’s just a matter of safety. People are really suffering right now. I can’t believe the fuss over vacationing.

  4. So, Trump was exposed to his valet who tested positive, so Trump and Pence get to be tested for the virus daily— (like using abortion for birth control, rather than take better preventive measures, like wearing a mask.) Trump does not wear a mask and it doesn’t seem like he is going to isolate for 14 days after his exposure, like us peons are told to do. He could have the virus now and be contagious even with a test (many false negatives) and yet he is sitting down with a governor today. When the leader of this country sets such a negative example for the rest of us, is it any wonder there’s a battle about opening/not opening? The Trump administration is trying to open and give a boost to the economy while trying to cover up the dire news about the growing pandemic. It doesn’t really matter who thinks what is “dramatic”. The willingness to sit back and watch all these humans die a horrible, lonely death because money matters more than life, is pretty damn dramatic.

    • No rational words can address your viewpoint. Without workers we have no hospital, schools, town workers , government programs , programs for the poor and disadvantaged. You seem to be advocating for the destruction of society and the advancement of the “woke class”. Really scary thoughts.

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