23 new COVID cases Friday

Boards of health report 94 active cases on the Island.

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Martha's Vineyard had a record number of cases of COVID-19 this week.

The Martha’s Vineyard boards of health reported 23 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 — a total of 98 new cases since Dec. 31, the highest weekly total since the Island began testing in March.

Of Friday’s 23 new cases, 17 were reported from Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, three form TestMV, two from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and one from an off-Island practitioner. 

In an expanded report Friday, the boards of health confirmed there are 94 active cases of COVID-19 on the Island. All of those active cases tested positive between Dec. 27 and Jan. 8.

The Island has seen the vast majority of its confirmed cases reported since the boards of health reported the Island’s first COVID-19 cluster, linked to a wedding in October. Since then, the Island has seen 542 — more than five times the 89 cases reported on the Island between March and Oct. 25.

In addition to the wedding cluster, which reported eight cases, clusters at Cronig’s Market with 19 cases and a Bible study group with 11 cases, where mask-wearing and social distancing were not mandatory, have also been reported.

On Friday, the hospital reported it has conducted a total of 10,795 tests since March, with 451 positives, and 10,295 negatives. There are currently 49 tests pending results, and one patient that has been hospitalized since Wednesday.

Also as of Thursday, TestMV has conducted 29,391 tests since June. Of those, 184 have tested positive, 28,056 negative, and 1,151 are pending results.

The town of Aquinnah reported its first positive case from its own testing Thursday. In total, the town has conducted 388 tests, of which one has come back positive, 375 negative, and 12 pending results.

Of the new cases 13 are female and 10 are male. Of those, seven are younger than 20, six are in their 20s, three are in their 30s, three are in their 40s, one is in their 50s, and two are older than 70.

Of the total 631 confirmed cases since March, 321 are female and 310 are male. Of those, 105 are younger than 20, 111 are in their 20s, 156 are in their 30s, 94 are in their 40s, 87 are in their 50s, 48 are in their 60s, and 28 are older than 70.

There was one new probable case Friday, totaling 41 probable cases that have been reported since March — 21 females and 20 males. Three symptomatically diagnosed individuals tested negative and have been removed from the probable list.

Of those, 25 received positive antibody tests, and 16 have been symptomatically diagnosed. There are eight in their 60s, nine in their 20s, six in their 50s, eight in their 40s, four younger than 20, three older than 70, and four in their 30s.

Individuals may be tested more than once at the hospital and TestMV to confirm illness, or to be released from isolation. This sometimes results in a discrepancy between the number of positive individuals and the number of positive tests reported.

Oak Bluffs and Tisbury are still in the “red” category — meaning high risk — according to state data.

Oak Bluffs has accounted for 27 cases over the past 14 days, according to the data. The town has a 6.08 percent positivity rate. Tisbury has seen 28 cases reported in the last 14 days with a 3.77 percent positivity rate.

On Thursday, the state reported 7,136 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 heading into the weekend, with a 7.83 percent positivity rate, and an estimated 81,604 active cases statewide. There were 71 new deaths, for a total of 12,634 COVID-19 deaths since March. The average age of those dead is 81.

Meanwhile, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday that Massachusetts weekly COVID-19 pool testing will be available to all school districts in Massachusetts within the next month.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference, Baker said the pool testing will allow kids to continue in person learning during the pandemic.

“This new pooled testing resource that we’re going to be providing going forward will give districts the ability to bring more kids back to the classroom,” Baker said.

Martha’s Vineyard is ahead of the curve when it comes to testing faculty and students. Testing of faculty began earlier this week and the results are expected sometime over the weekend. The Island is conducting similar pool testing.

Pool testing allows multiple people to be tested together. If the results are negative then all those samples in the pool can be determined negative with a single test. If not, then all samples in the pool need to be retested individually. 

“I’m excited to be here today to announce this new initiative to provide schools and districts with access to frequent, affordable COVID testing for their students and staff,” Education Secretary James Peyser said. “When the standard health protocols are followed, schools can be very safe places for students and staff.”

Answering a question about a new strain of the virus, Baker stressed the importance of masks.

“This remains your best protection with respect to any strain of COVID, including the new one,” Baker said while holding up his mask.

  • so when there were 5 total cases or less on the vineyard last spring , I was prevented from working for 6 weeks, and stood in line at Shirley’s because there was a limit of 4 people in that store at a time– Ok
    I accepted that– so why, now that there are about 20 new cases a day, can I walk into Shirley’s no matter how many people are in there, and everything is open.
    Were the health boards so off last spring , or do they just not care now?
    This just doesn’t make sense.
    We are experiencing an unprecedented numbers of cases on the island, and the officials are doing nothing… Shame on them.

    • Because this was a new virus, no one knew how quickly it would spread or how deadly it would be or what would effectively contain it. An abundance of caution was used to protect our community and our hospital. They’re not “doing nothing”. They are following the Governor’s guidance, contact tracing and monitoring the infected. Stop complaining and be thankful you’re healthy.

      • They are unable to contact trace in community spread. If someone dines in a restaurant and there is one infected, asymptomatic diner 20 feet away, and an air current is just right, the virus will spread to another table, even in a heated tent. That newly infected person goes home and gives the virus to their entire family. Health workers call it “household spread”. But someone brought it into the household from an untraced restaurant. Christmas travel has also greatly contributed to this surge, despite warnings to stay home. It’s not complicated nor complaining to feel frustrated and angry at those who do whatever they want, making this drag on and on— and making the isolation and loneliness of the elderly and immune suppressed worse. Have some compassion also for those who are on the front lines in our hospital and supermarkets and pharmacies who risk so much, even for the selfish and shortsighted still doing whatever they want. The public gets little to no information on spread— because it’s bad for businesses.

      • Carla– so now we know for sure how deadly this disease is, and how to effectively contain it. “Monitoring the infected” and requiring me to put sugar and cream in my take out coffee in the parking lot of an establishment is not my idea of pro active prevention.
        I seem to remember that when the Vineyard health agents suggested shutting down worksites, Governor Baker said “that’s not going to fly.” We can do more, and we should.
        Perhaps it would be more appropriate for you to tell the anti maskers to stop complaining. We can get a handle on this, but not by waiting until we are sick.
        And yes, I am thankful that The Flying Spaghetti Monster has thus far protected me and kept me and my family healthy, but I am not depending on Him as my only defense. I put more faith in science and my local public health officials. The local health officials have a long way to go before they will be accused of “an abundance of caution”.
        Stay safe.

      • Haha, “Stop complaining and be thankful you’re healthy”, Ha.

        Some of us especially the ones with service connected, compromised immune systems are still healthy because we practice social distancing, am strictly self-quarantining and masking up whenever we go out of our homes.
        FYI, the numbers are obviously rising because people are not following those recommendations or even using common sense as our weapons against this invisible enemy.

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