20 new COVID cases in a week

Two new cases reported Monday as concern grows among Martha’s Vineyard health officials.

There were 18 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Martha's Vineyard Friday.

Updated 4:30 pm

The Island’s troubling rise of COVID-19 cases continues to grow as the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and TestMV both reported new cases Monday.

The hospital has tested a total of 6,302 individuals since March, with 64 positives — with 13, or 20 percent, of those cases reported within the last week. Of its total tests, 6,221 have been negative and 17 are pending results.

The Island has seen a significant uptick in confirmed cases after the Martha’s Vineyard boards of health confirmed a cluster last week of cases stemming from a wedding held over the long weekend last month.

With Monday’s two new cases at the hospital, the boards of health have reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 in the past seven days.

The hospital has also reported two hospitalizations in October — both have been discharged. In April, the hospital transferred three COVID-19-positive patients off-Island. One of those patients died in Boston, “due to medical complications not proven to be related to COVID-19,” according to a hospital spokesperson at the time.

Following the drastic rise in cases, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital CEO Denise Schepici and the Island boards of health issued a joint statement about what they call a “disturbing trend of heightened COVID-19 cases.” 

It comes as the Island has seen the greatest number of positive cases since March, according to the statement. There were 18 new cases on the Island in a one-week period, with 11 of those at the hospital, and the rest coming from the TestMV site at MVRHS.

“Contact tracing and case investigations are underway, with close contacts of positive individuals being quarantined and referred for testing,” the release states. “Although five of the new cases are linked to a cluster connected to an Island wedding, most are not. The concern is that the Island could be experiencing the beginning of community transmission.”

According to the statement, the current uptick should serve as a reminder to the community to avoid large gatherings, and always wear a mask when out in public when physical distancing is not possible.

“We urge Island businesses and organizations to review their COVID-19-related safety protocols with their employees and ensure that physical distancing and masking is enforced in all areas, including shared work vehicles, break rooms, and other locations where staff or members of the public gather,” the release states. “If any employees are experiencing symptoms, please refer them immediately for testing, and allow them to stay home from work.”

The current surge has the potential to push the Island into a high risk or “red” community under the state’s metrics, based on average daily cases per 100,000 residents. As result, the hospital and boards of health are asking community members to remain vigilant, and issued the following reminders:

  1. Avoid crowds.
  2. When you are in public, wear a mask.
  3. Respect physical distancing of six feet in between you and other people.
  4. Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, using hot water and soap. Use hand sanitizer.
  5. Be responsible. If you have COVID-19-like symptoms or suspect you have been in contact with someone who tested positive, stay home and call your physician.
  6. Follow the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Traveler’s Guidance. Individuals arriving in Massachusetts are required to complete the Massachusetts travel form prior to arrival, quarantine, and be tested for COVID-19. This guidance applies to everyone entering Massachusetts from a high-risk state, including college and university students who will soon be returning home for the Thanksgiving holiday.
  7. If you are called by a contact tracer, we ask that you answer those calls and be truthful and forthcoming about not only your exposure, but possible exposure to others.

“These high numbers should be viewed for what they are: a stark warning to all of us that we are not out of the woods, and every one of us remain at risk for infection,” Maura Valley, Tisbury health agent, said in the release. “We need people to be vigilant about the protocols to avoid exposure, and if they are exposed or receive a positive test, to cooperate fully with our contact tracers.”

“Everyone has worked so hard these past seven months to keep our prevalence low,” Schepici said in the release. “We cannot be subdued into thinking the virus is waning or is not a threat, so we need to keep up all our smart practices to keep us all protected and safe.  Please take care and follow the guidelines. If we stay together on this, we will get through it together.”

Over the past week TestMV, the asymptomatic testing site, also reported seven new cases. As of Monday, TestMV has tested 18,850 individuals with 46 positive tests, 18,200 negative tests, and 604 pending results. The town of Aquinnah has tested 305 individuals. Of those, 301 have tested negative, and four are pending results.

On Monday, Tisbury health agent and boards of health spokesperson Maura Valley sent a clarification to the reported numbers: “Of [Monday’s two cases], one was a repeat of a positive result that is already included in our total cases. TestMV reported one new case over the weekend for a total of 2 new confirmed cases on the Island.”

Additionally, Valley reported that one case reported last week was a second positive result from an individual who previously tested and isolated off-Island. 

“CDC guidelines direct that positive results within three months of the initial positive test not be counted as a new positive case. In accordance with those guidelines, that individual has been removed from our positive case report,” Valley wrote.

Of the Island’s now 108 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 88 are no longer symptomatic and have been released from isolation, but as of Friday, 19 of the most recent cases were being monitored by public health officials. Due to the status of the Island’s confirmed cases only being released on Fridays, information on the status of Monday’s two new cases is not yet available. 

Through contact tracing, the cases of 43 individuals, or 42 percent of the Vineyard’s cases, have been linked to another individual.

Due to the hospital, boards of health, and the town of Aquinnah all reporting their own data at different times of day, and due to some people being tested at multiple sites, exact numbers can be difficult to calculate. Also, due to some patients being tested at the hospital and TestMV, the number of confirmed cases from each testing site and the total number of cases can not add up.

Of the 108 confirmed cases, 62 are female and 46 are male. 21 of the cases are 50-59 years old, 24 are 20-29 years old, 13 cases are 60-69 years old, 21 are 30-39 years old, 14 are 20 years old or younger, eight are 40-49, and seven are 70 years or older.

The boards of health are also reporting on probable cases. The Island’s total number of presumed positives is 24. Of those, 21 were positive antibody tests, and three were symptomatically positive.

Of the probable cases, 14 are female and 10 are male. Of the 24 presumed positive cases, seven are aged 60-69, five are aged 50-59, three are aged 40-49, five are aged 20-29, two are under 20 years old, and two are over the age of 70.

The Island’s new cases come as Massachusetts has seen case totals this week that have rivaled April and May during the pandemic surge. On Sunday, the state reported 1,139 new cases — the ninth day in a row of more than 1,000 cases — totaling 155,660 cases since testing began. The state is also continuing to see COVID-related deaths, with 22 new deaths on Sunday totaling 9,788 since the pandemic began.


This story has been updated to clarify the number of COVID-19-positive cases in the past seven days. We apologize for any confusion.