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.