Update: 11 new COVID cases at hospital Saturday

Two restaurants deal with a single COVID case.

Two chairs block the entrance to Waterside Market Friday. - Rich Saltzberg

Updated Dec. 5

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday.

On Friday, there were 16 new COVID-19 cases reported on the Island Friday — 14 from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and two from TestMV.

Friday and Saturday’s new cases bring the Island’s weekly total to 58. In the past three weeks, the Island has reported 45, 63, and 62 cases respectively. What started out as a promising week of fewer cases has turned out to be another week in what’s been a four week spike on the Island.

In total the hospital has tested 8,473 individuals with 249 positives, 8,157 negatives, and 67 pending results. There are currently no patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

As of Friday, TestMV, which tests asymptomatic individuals, has tested 24,447 individuals since it began testing in May. Of those, 107 have tested positive, 22,937 negative, and 1,403 pending results.

The town of Aquinnah is also conducting its own testing. Aquinnah has tested 346 individuals with zero positives, 343 negatives, and three pending results.

In an expanded report Friday, the boards of health noted that 41 active cases still being monitored by public health officials. These monitored cases all tested positive after Nov. 21. Public health officials have been unable to contact two cases that tested positive between Nov. 15 and Nov. 21.

Two Vineyard Haven restaurants are the latest Island businesses dealing with an employee who tested positive for COVID-19.

In a Facebook post Thursday, Waterside Market wrote that an asymptomatic employee tested positive for COVID-19. In an abundance of caution, La Soffitta will be closed for 10 days and will reopen for curbside pickup and takeout on Dec. 15. Waterside Market will only be closed Dec. 4.

In an email to the Times, owner Stephen Bowen confirmed both restaurants will be deep cleaned and sanitized. All employees have been advised to get tested.

“All of us at Waterside and La Soffitta put our hearts into our restaurants and genuinely care about the safety of our staff and Island family,” Bowen wrote.

This comes as the Island has seen fewer cases this week, despite an uptick across the state that some are blaming on Thanksgiving gatherings.

On Friday, the Steamship Authority released traffic data from the Thanksgiving weekend that shows Islanders on both Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket stayed put for the holiday while off-Island people traveled to the Islands. 

There were 7,315 standard fare vehicle trips to both Islands — a 824 vehicle or 12.7 percent increase from last year.

Excursion rate vehicle trips dropped significantly from last year. There were 4,021 excursion trips to both Islands, down by 1,755 from last year — a 30.4 percent decrease.

The effects of Thanksgiving travel were apparent on Nantucket where the Nantucket Cottage Hospital reported 46 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, four on Thursday, and 28 on Friday.

In the state’s town by town data, Edgartown and Tisbury are designated as “not lower risk.” Due to this designation, Tisbury and Edgartown have reverted back to step one of phase three of the state’s reopening plan. Communities must revert to step one if they’ve been designated red for three consecutive weeks.

Reverting to step one requires indoor performance venues to close down, capacity is reduced from 50 to 40 percent at gyms, libraries, and museums, and outdoor gatherings at event venues are limited to 50 people. 

Edgartown remains in the red category with 33 cases reported in the past two weeks, according to the state data. But Oak Bluffs and Tisbury have moved into the yellow category.

The state moved Tisbury and Oak Bluffs out of the red and into the yellow since the number of positive cases between Nov. 17 and Dec. 1 for both towns has been less than 25. There have been 19 total cases reported in Oak Bluffs and 22 in Tisbury in that same time period. Tisbury can return to phase two once it’s been out of the “red zone” for three weeks.

Towns are deemed lower risk once they’ve been out of the red category in any of the last three weeks.

Due to some individuals testing positive at both the hospital and the TestMV site, the total number of positives does not equal the number of positives added from each testing site, resulting in a discrepancy.

A jump in cases began on Oct. 26, when public health officials reported a cluster of cases linked to a wedding at the Lambert’s Cove Inn. Since then, the Island has seen 257 cases of COVID-19 — more than all the cases reported on the Island between March and Oct. 25 combined.

Of the new cases, seven are female and 11 are male. The new cases ranged in age with seven in their 30s, five in their 40s, two in their 50s, and two younger than 20.

Of the Island’s now 334 confirmed cases, 169 are female and 165 are male. Of those, 80 are in their 30s, 56 are in their 20s, 52 are in their 50s, 57 are in their 40s, 54 are younger than 20, 25 are in their 60s, and 10 are older than 70.

The boards of health are also keeping track of probable cases. There are 27 probable cases reported on the Island. Of those, 22 received positive antibody tests, and five have been symptomatically diagnosed. Of those, 15 are female and 12 are male. There are seven in their 60s, six in their 20s, six in their 50s, three in their 40s, two younger than 20, and three older than 70.

The surge in cases is happening statewide, with confirmed cases, positivity rates, hospitalizations, and deaths all on the rise. On Saturday, the Department of Public Health reported 5,356 positive cases with a 5.4 percent seven-day positivity rate. The number of active cases statewide continues to climb as well, with an estimated 54,199 active cases statewide. The state continues to see new deaths as well, with 41 reported Saturday, for a total of 10,953 statewide. The average age of those deaths is 81.