COVID cases on the rise again

Dukes, Nantucket counties have the highest positivity rates in the state.


There were 55 new COVID-19 cases reported last week, showing another rise in cases on Martha’s Vineyard after several weeks of a downward trend.

The rise in cases is the Island’s first significant rise since mid-April. Last week’s cases are a 22 case increase from the previous week’s 33 cases. 

Between May 16 and May 22, the 55 cases consisted of 46 from the hospital, six from TestMV, one staff member from public school testing, one from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and one from anohter provider. The majority of individuals who tested positive were in their 30s or younger with 13 in their 30s, 19 in their 20s, seven in their teens, seven younger than 10, five in their 40s, and four in their 50s.

Of the 55 cases, 41 were symptomatic, 10 were asymptomatic, and four were unknown. To date there have been 1,473 confirmed cases on the Vineyard — 756 male and 717 female.

There was a new three-case cluster reported last week at the Cardboard Box in Oak Bluffs. 

The cluster was all staff members of the restaurant.

The Island has now reported nine COVID clusters, including an October wedding (eight cases), Cronig’s Market (19 cases), a Bible study group (11 cases), M.V. Hospital (five cases), Project Headway (four cases), King’s barbershop (eight cases), Shirley’s Hardware (all six staff), the Barn Bowl & Bistro (nine cases), and Cardboard Box. A cluster is defined as more than two people from different families or households with a shared source of infection.

Dukes County and Nantucket counties continue to have the highest COVID-19 positivity rate in the state, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.

As of May 19, the two Islands have had a combined 2,868 positive cases since testing began in March 2020. In the first two weeks of May, the Islands have had a 4.76 percent positivity rate. The next highest is Bristol County with a 2.70 percent positivity rate.

State data combines Dukes and Nantucket in its weekly COVID reports.

Edgartown has the highest positivity rate on the Island with a 7.85 percent positivity rate, Oak Bluffs is second with 6.51 percent, followed by Tisbury with 4.91 percent, and West Tisbury with 4.58 percent. Chilmark and Aquinnah are both at zero percent.

Percent positivity is calculated by dividing the number of positive tests by the total number of tests during the time period.

As of Friday, the hospital has administered 18,394 tests, with 1,057 positive results. There have been 17,284 negative tests and 45 results pending. 

As of Monday, TestMV, which is located in the parking lot at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, has now administered 38,108 tests, with 371 positive results, 37,472 negative results, and 265 tests pending.

The town of Aquinnah has conducted 456 self-administered tests, of which two have come back positive, 454 negative, and no pending results.

The Martha’s Vineyard public schools have administered 43,662 tests. Of those, 18 have tested positive.

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has reported a total of 12 positive cases of COVID-19.

Due to how tests are conducted, there can be a discrepancy between the number of positive individuals and the number of positive tests reported.

There were also four probable cases reported last week, for a total of 79 since March 2020. Of those, 45 are male, and 34 are female.



  1. These cases sound like “anchor covies” to me.
    It would be worthwhile to know how many of these cases are fully vaccinated islanders.
    Or even Islanders–
    I do have to wonder how many of them are coming from “free” states like Florida.
    If so, it does make the numbers in Florida look better, and the numbers here look worse.
    I just hope they don’t use our hospital, and stiff us with the bill.
    They should at the least require a temperature check to get on the boat.

  2. Oh dear! Just when you might have looked forward to getting off the Covid beat, Brian. Any speculation why Dukes and Nantucket are higher than rest of state?

    • The annual arrival of seasonal workers from off-island perhaps? This is not to disparage seasonal workers or visitors – we depend on and should welcome both – but summer workers tend to skew toward a younger demographic, and may not have had the opportunity to receive a vaccination or come from somewhere where vaccination isn’t readily available. Let’s increase testing and vaccination for everyone on the islands!

  3. It would only take one Islander to travel to the main land , and get exsposed to COVID 19 and bring it back to the island . That’s why it is so very important to get vaccinated.

  4. I would speculate that it’s due to the influx of people either returning to or visiting the Island. I for one will not be taking off my mask anytime soon!

  5. People are fleeing the lockdown states which are all blue states whether California or New York or MA. Its like a rush to West Berlin years ago.

    • ENGELMAN, don’t you ever get tired of making up baloney? The Island is fully booked for the summer. You can’t even get a ferry reservation or all of the July and August. Not only that, the lockdown has been over for months. In fact, this weekend marks the end of all restrictions.

      • Jackie I said people are fleeing blue states and MA has a net loss. Look it up. MA was a lockdown state, others were not.

        • The article is about covid cases rising on the island. No one is fleeing the island. Just the opposite. Try to stay on topic.

    • Andrew, let’s look at this with clear eyes. This is due to a pent up demand for travel, not a political flight.

        • Ah…thank you for the clarification. California lost population for the first time in recent memory- it’s losing its luster.

  6. There are enough unvaccinated islanders and day workers to keep these numbers up, including those who refuse to wear masks and will never get the vaccine. They’ve not followed guidelines all year and many bragged about it and mocked the compliant on Islanders Talk. The news reporting is scant and unhelpful in general, but the Gazette reported most new cases are mostly people in their 20’s. There were also 3 diners at Cardboard Box who got covid, in addition to the 3 employees there.

    The reality is that as long as people, including all the islanders who’ve ignored their civic duties all year, continue to be selfish and stupid, we will remain as one of the two highest case counties in the state.

    I remember as a child asking my father why employees at an essential local business went on strike, essentially closing the needed store to the community. He sarcastically said they’re striking for more hours and less pay. Same with the island covid numbers. The numbers will not go down because all islanders are compliant, courteous, and respectful of keeping everyone else safe. Not.

    If every unvaccinated islander (who remains that way due to selfish stupidity) GOT VACCINATED, or otherwise wore a mask, stayed out of restaurants and every other place where people are maskless, washed their hands, did not gather unmasked—- like all the rest of the country whose numbers are reducing daily because so many are vaccinated— no one would have to wonder why the island is doing so badly. If the Covid Skeptic group infects itself and contributes to herd immunity that way, I don’t care. I do care that these covidiots infect those who cannot get the shot. There really is no reason to ask why our numbers remain as they are. Get the damn vaccine and they’ll come down, just like everywhere else. Just like the science says, duh. The hospital has said there are excess vaccines with no takers. And people want to blame off-islanders? There are rare, few and far between breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, but don’t kid yourselves where our numbers are coming from.

    • “selfish stupidity”? Thats an overly selfish and stupid comment Jacqueline. I am personally vaccinated as is my family, but I will never call someone childish names because they had a right to make a CHOICE and did so. Very irresponsible and hateful.

  7. Did I get vaccinated? Yes. Do I think most people should get vaccinated? Yes. That said, people need to get a grip, or at a minimum, some historical perspective. Mr. Mendez’s tirade is as long winded as it is unhelpful. Is COVID a good or beneficial thing? No. Is it a cataclysmic, civilization- ending catastrophe? No. We have had over 1000 cases on Martha’s Vineyard and no deaths. Plenty of other people dying in the meantime of traditional diseases like cancer, heart disease , or that good old standby, old age. If we look at the Spanish flu in 1918, the death toll was anywhere from 5 to 20 times greater than Covid, depending on the estimate. That’s at a time where they were no vaccines, fewer medical facilities, and less understanding of viruses and treatments. I suspect there was far less hand wringing and melodrama back then despite the hardships. With the increase in global vaccines available, antibodies from people who already caught Covid, and other improved treatments coming down the pipeline ( remember, these are just the first vaccines, not the last), COVID will become a thing of the past. Until then, get vaccinated and ride it out while enjoying life.

  8. I just read an article in the NY Times that provided a map of vaccination rates by county. Dukes is very low in comparison to other counties in Massachusetts, neighboring states, and even throughout the country. Could this by any chance have some bearing on the situation?

    Please, everyone, learn all you can about the vaccine, do your civic duty, and get vaccinated!

  9. I view vaccines as a modern day convenience. If you want to go from New York to San Francisco, you can do it the old fashioned way and walk. Or you can do it the modern way and fly of drive. Your choice.
    There are 2 ways to get immunity from Covid.
    You can do it the old fashioned way , catch it, get sick and perhaps die, or you can get a shot.
    Your choice.
    I, my family and most of my friends are fully vaccinated.
    I could really care less at this point if you want to be vaccinated or not– but if not– please try not to infect other people who may have valid reasons for not getting a Jab.
    But — there is always a silver lining —- the death rate is going up in red states, and down in blue states.

    • Research is indicating that mild cases produce long-lasting immunity, not short-term. There are many, many cases that were so mild that people weren’t aware they’d been infected and only found out later with antibody tests, if they found out at all. Columbia University researchers estimated it at 10X the reported number of cases, if not higher. So, between vaccines and earned immunity, Covid’s days are numbered. Probably a disappointment for those looking to sustain the panic ( I can hear Jackie shouting “what about cancer patients? Children?”) or hoping to use the pandemic for political posturing.

      • Val– yes, covid’s days are numbered.
        I doubt anyone is interested in sustaining the pandemic, but those who do nothing to stop it are extending the duration of it.

      • Val, it must be awful to have a shouting woman living rent-free in your head. Fear not, there’s medication for people who hear (shouting) voices.

    • I had covid twice since January 2020 I survived just fine. I’ll pass on the vaccine thanks.

      • The question is, how many people did you unknowingly infect, and how sick did they get with any heart, lung, circulation, or long hauler problems? You were contagious, two separate times, before you knew you had it, so chances are high that you contributed to spread here- It is recommended that everyone who is medically cleared get a vaccine, even if you’ve had and recovered from covid. It is the responsible thing to do if you care about people, not just yourself.

    • Don…so it’s OK with you that people are still dying from Covid, as long as they are from, as you say, Red States. You are a real piece of work and I’m surprised that even Brennan would allow a comment like this.

      • Bill,
        You have to be able to read the irony here, Don is pointing out how the scorched earth, hyper-partisan rhetoric of the right has led to this kind of cartoonish, pro wrestling thinking. He is not actually advocating that people should die, just illustrating the sense of exasperation one inevitably feels with the us -versus-them mentality that the far right has been ginning up to create division in the country

      • Bill–I strongly suggest that everyone get a vaccination.
        I have been complaining for months that the island is not locked down enough.
        I voted for Biden because he had a better chance than dumbo at having a pretty good rollout of the vaccine distribution.
        As I recall, at the beginning of the pandemic, republicans were pointing out that cases were higher in northern “dem” cities. And they delighted in that fact.
        I am also a proponent of choice– not only about abortion, but also about things like death with dignity — If you are terminally ill and want to kill yourself, then by all means do it in a painless and dignified manner .
        As far as the current situation with covid— well what can I say ? We have the FREEDOM to go about collecting Darwin awards for our loved one’s.
        If Engelman can tell us it only kills fat old people, and we should just accept that, then I can express my opinion about idiots.
        I would much rather that everyone get the jab, and think that all deaths are tragic. But really, the last 2 elections were decided by a pretty slim majority in a few key states— mostly red ones. So if the people in those key states choose to put themselves at risk, and perhaps not vote after they are dead, it increases the odds that congress will stay in the hands of democrats, which I think is a good thing.
        It’s just the cold hard calculus.

    • C’mon Don, I’d like to think that you’re regretting hitting “send” due to that last sentence. The death rate going up anywhere is not a “silver lining,” by any stretch. There are people with whom I don’t agree on many issues but I’ll wish death from COVID on no one.

      • Dana– no regrets.
        This has often been referred to as a war. People die in wars- I don’t wish death on anyone. But as in war, the death of an enemy soldier is not perceived by the opposing side as quite as tragic as the death of an innocent child on our side.
        The irresponsible rhetoric from the top of the republican party to simple commenters here about how all this is a hoax, and how we have been shamed for wearing mask has resulted in many thousands of preventable deaths. You know it, I know it.
        I’m just calling it what it is.
        If they want to take on covid without masks or social distancing or vaccinations– so be it–
        I will not shed tears for the guilty.

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