Tisbury going it alone in the ‘red’ for COVID

Town is the only one in the state at ‘high risk” for the virus.

Main Street in Vineyard Haven was bustling with people on Friday. -George Brennan

Tisbury remains the only town out of 351 cities and towns in the commonwealth in the Department of Public Health’s “red” or highest risk category for COVID-19 transmission.

In the last two weeks Tisbury has had 30 new cases with a 6.86 percent positivity rate. With Tisbury’s population just over 4,000, the number of cases needed to designate it as highest risk is 25. The state’s seven-day average of percent positivity is 0.8 percent.

Towns with less than 10,000 residents are considered the highest risk for COVID-19 transmission if they have had more than 25 cases.

“That is very true,” Tisbury health agent Maura Valley said about Tisbury being the only red community in the state. She also said those numbers are “concerning” for the Island boards of health. However she anticipated the numbers will subside by next week. She also said she expects the vaccination bus back next week but didn’t give any precise times.

Earlier this week at a board of health meeting, Valley hinted that the town would be in the state’s “red” category. At that meeting, the health board voted to require masks in town buildings through Labor Day and at the upcoming town meeting.

Nineteen other towns are in the state’s yellow category — communities with elevated, but more moderate risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

Oak Bluffs and Edgartown are two of those towns in the yellow. Edgartown only recently made the switch to the yellow category from red, but only by the skin of its teeth. In thee last two weeks, Edgartown reported 24 new cases of COVID-19 — two cases away from the highest risk designation. Oak Bluffs has reported 20 cases in the past two weeks.

West Tisbury reported eight cases in the past two weeks. Aquinnah and Chilmark each reported zero. All up-Island towns are in the grey designation.

There have been 18 new confirmed cases on the Island in the past five days — four on Sunday, one on Monday, five on Tuesday, six on Wednesday, and two on Thursday.

At the state level Thursday, Massachusetts reported there were 215 new cases of COVID-19 bringing the state’s total since testing began in March 2020 to 660,513. There were also nine new deaths Thursday for a total of 17,491.



  1. OK, but I suspect this has more to do with statistics than with real life. Who knows where the people who tested positive in VH were exposed to Covid? Meanwhile I’ll keep wearing my mask in public places, even though I’ve been fully vaccinated since April 3. I hope you’re doing likewise.

    • No, I’m not. You are welcome to- that’s personal freedom, deemed unnecessary by the CDC. I am perfectly content to follow the science, which says it’s OK to ditch the masks in most places.

      • Many informed and vaccinated people continue to wear a mask in public settings, like Susanna. There is nothing wrong with being considerate of strangers who do not know your vaccine status. Spread happens mostly from the unvaxed, many of whom object not just to vaccines, but to wearing a mask at all. Dukes County is seeing the results of this ignorance. Unmasked people in public are now both vaccinated and unvaccinated, but we don’t know who is, who isn’t. If someone is vaxed and unmasked, but doesn’t care how someone else feels when they see him in crowded lines and such, that is discourteous. Simple. Many island businesses are continuing to ask their vaccinated employees and customers to continue to mask up– Cronig’s for example– and the community appreciates this. Common courtesy never killed anyone, neither has slipping on a mask when around strangers, but it does require that one thinks about someone other than himself. Feeling perfectlyl content, along with caring about others’ comfort level, can go hand in hand for some people– not so much with others.

        • If a private business wishes to request the patrons wear masks, that is absolutely fine. That is the nature of a private business. Most of Us are very familiar with the “no shirt, no shoes, no service“ signs, a mask request is just an extension of that. Where I am in polite disagreement with Miss Sturgis is the notion that everyone is morally obligated to wear masks in public places where the CDC and local national government has deemed it unnecessary. It is hypocritical to blame people months ago for not following the government guidelines, and then criticize them for following them when they loosen up. I am fully vaccinated and if I am given the greenlight to go unmasked in public places, I will do so without reservations. I will not wait until the last paranoid and neurotic person feels 100% safe in the world.

          • Maybe you should educate yourself on the reasons people continue to mask up before calling them “paranoid and neurotic”. Some of us have autoimmune conditions that make us particularly vulnerable, some are undergoing chemo that lowers their ability to fight infections, some have other underlying health conditions that keep them from being able to get vaccinated, some are just being considerate of others who may be vulnerable. Sorry that you’re so defensive of your own selfishness that you need to disparage anyone who doesn’t agree with you.

          • Actually, masking policies are not like “no shoes, no service” requirements. The reason for “no shoes, no service” is to protect the store, so that when you break your toe or cut your bare foot on something inside the store and sue the owner, you lose the lawsuit. The no-shirt policy is because no one wants to look at half-naked slobs unless they have to, like on the beach. Fine restaurants also have clothing requirements, having nothing to do with concern for public health. Mask mandates during the pandemic were set to protect the health of all from a very contagious disease that has killed millions world-wide.

            The same way you find out who a person truly is by how they treat people who wait on them, as in a restaurant, you can tell about a person’s nature by how concerned they are about a complete stranger’s comfort and sense of safety during this time. It’s rude to call the cashiers at Stop and Shop neurotic and paranoid because they are still wearing masks when they no longer have to. Also, if you are paying attention to the fine print from the expert scientists, not the politicians who are making business AND health decisions, you will notice that there are indeed caveats to the lifting of most restrictions. Location and infection rates matter very much. Some spots, like Dukes County, require more vigilence. It’s perfectly logical for vaccinated, mentally healthy, considerate people, like Susanna, to wear a mask in crowded, public spaces indoors and out and among strangers.

            If you’re a healthy, vaxed person, you personally are fine to follow the one size fits all latest safety guidelines, even in this covid hot spot of MV. But it’s not only about you. Indifference toward others who may be vulnerable or even overly frightened can be argued to be a moral failing. Regardless, what is the harm in slipping on a mask around children, elderly, or in crowded situations, inside or out– while we are still unable to get our island numbers under control? I don’t see why anyone has a problem with it. Being considerate toward others for no personal gain, while extending very little personal effort, is part of social graciousness. Some have it, some don’t.

          • I didn’t even mention that vaccinated people can still get and spread covid, unlikely for most, but especially a problem for the severely immunosuppressed.

          • Semi-coherent rant-tangent. Par for the course with Jackie.

            If a business wants customers to wear masks, that’s their prerogative. It’s fine and should be respected.

            The issue is whether fully vaccinated people need to wear masks and obey lockdown-era precautions in public areas.

            The CDC and national/local governments say no. A bunch of self-proclaimed health experts/moralists say otherwise and dredge up a bunch of “What if” scenarios and “Nobody’s really safe” statistics to bolster their position. The “Think of the poor _____” argument (immune compromised, cancer patients, etc) suggests people who are following the guidelines are heartless. Why not protest the government if you feel the guidelines are so terrible?

          • Thank you, Carla. Sadly, there’s no cure or vaccine for selfishness, just the never ending babble of excuses for it. I’m sorry for what you have to deal with.

  2. With the current red zone designation for Tisbury, why do we allow the cruise ship American Constitution to dock in Port? The answer appears to be obvious – greed.

    • Sorry you have the wrong conclusion but I hope you’re still washing your groceries and have a separate place to let them cure before you can touch them. Don’t lose the mask and gloves.

  3. How many of the positive cases are asymptomatic?
    How many of the positive cases are vaccinated?
    How many cycles was the PCR test run at? 25 or 40.
    Before journalists make these “in the red” headlines,
    dont we need to know all the facts?

    • They/we will never know all the facts.
      They should never publish until they do.

      Code Red is determined by case rate, that is a fact.

  4. Why is this not surprising… while the undertrained island health agents took it upon themselves to conduct contact tracing , much of the rest of the state went along with the state DPH and allowed the contact tracing to be handled by professional tracing companies. Not some beleaguered local health agents trying to protect their fiefdoms. The numbers tell the story.

    • Why is this not surprising…. Islander’s are incompetent fools……

      People lie to professional contact tracers, friends and neighbors, not so much.

      • Albert– I am curious as to why you are commenting here.
        Your calling islanders fools on this site is pretty foolish.
        And why do you think we have had no deaths here ?

        • We’ve had no deaths here because the hospital was able to flight the most critical off to Boston.

        • When they were passing out sarcasm genes you said no thank you.

          We have no deaths on Island because anyone with Covid and half a brain will seek a higher level of care than available on the Island.
          The heliport at the hospital is for patient departures only

    • This is an ignorant and insulting comment. Our local health officials did a remarkable job on the island. While the rest of the state/country was suffering with high infection rates and thousands of deaths, MV had very low numbers and zero deaths over the duration of this pandemic. Given the circumstances, we should be thanking our local health agents for their diligence. It’s only now with the complete state reopening (that local health agents have no control over) that we are seeing island numbers on the rise.

    • I rarely if ever comment here but want to clarify that the efforts made by the island’s board of health offices and other island organizations has been a remarkable example of regionalism done extremely well. Unless you have sat in on conference calls between the various town board of health offices, volunteers, the hospital, Island health care, and others, criticizing them is a bit unfair and claiming they are only trying to protect their fiefdoms is not an accurate statement.
      I have sat in on some of these calls and have seen the island wide coordination and collaboration. The people involved with contact tracing on the island should be commended for their 24/7 commitment to this. This has been an unprecedented time for all involved and I feel that if they hadn’t stepped up to the level they did, the comments here would be about how they hadn’t worked hard enough, should have had a more regional approach, and should have been more self sufficient, not relying on the State. They have done all of this though – worked hard, collaborated, have worked as a cohesive unit, and have done so while also coordinating with the State. New processes and workflows were created while interpreting data that ballooned from a small easily manageable amount to exponentially more than that. Kudos to them.

      Not making an argumentative point, I have zero desire to toss around the mud that can be thrown around in online comments. Just stating a few facts from someone who has seen a little bit of this from the inside, to clarify things for anyone reading this that hadn’t seen it from the perspective I have been able to.

  5. What is it that Mark Twain said? There are “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Unless we are putting up walls around our towns, Tisbury or Edgartown or any other town that is in the red is a reflection on our entire island. We all need to be vigilant and get vaccinated.

  6. I heard Marjorie Tavlor Green tell her cult members that wearing a mask while unvaccinated was like having a nazi gold star identifying one as Jewish.
    Of course, that’s ridiculous and anti sematic– no one is legislating any such thing.
    But I am disappointed in the right wingers around here for not standing up and being proud of their conspiracy theories. Come on, guys, stand up for your rights– you can express your pride about resisting the deep state and stand up for yourselves any way you want.
    You know, like the lgbtq community does. Like BLM does–Like any self respecting oppressed community does.
    Aren’t you jealous that they have some courage and pride in their beliefs ? Aren’t you ashamed that you have to hide your vaccination status? Or lie about it to get into restaurants and bars ?
    I encourage you come out and express yourself. You can get all sorts of anti vax garb and bumper stickers etc. and show us your courage. Not only that you aren’t afraid of covid– but that you are ready to stand up to your oppressors.
    You could even organize support groups and gather in large numbers in small spaces and share all your stories about how oppressed you are.
    Of course I personally think most anti vaxxers are just afraid of being stuck with a needle–
    Trust me, it doesn’t hurt at all.
    Good luck…

  7. And this is the reason I left mv. Continue posting mindless, selfish dribble from the gilded prison you call ‘special’. That place ain’t right.

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