West Tisbury health board seeks vaccine mandate

Board of health also imposes mask mandate for public places.

Omar Johnson, shown here at a meeting in 2018, will be responsible for enforcing a mask mandate in West Tisbury. — Gabrielle Mannino

The West Tisbury board of health is recommending that every town employee be vaccinated, though ultimately it’s up to individual appointing authorities to decide whether to move forward with the mandate, according to minutes provided by the board of health.

At a meeting Tuesday, the board of health voted unanimously to recommend requiring vaccinations of town employees. “Due to the rise in Delta variant cases, the board voted unanimously to be the appointing authorities to mandate vaccinations for town employees,” the minutes state. “The appointing authorities would be responsible for determining medical and religious exemptions, and the possible alternative of a weekly-testing, non-vaccine option.”

While some people in town had called for a vaccine mandate, particularly for employees of the Howes House, which is the up-Island senior center, town leaders had been reluctant to do that.

Town administrator Jen Rand told The Times individual boards will have to vote to require vaccinations. Along with the select board, those boards include the finance committee, library trustees, board of assessors, planning board, board of health, and parks and recreation. “I have contacted each board to ask them to come to a joint meeting so that the discussion can be had at one time with all affected boards,” she wrote. She did not indicate when that meeting is scheduled.

Select board chair Skipper Manter could not immediately be reached for comment.

All of this comes as the Island has seen a significant spike in cases week-to-week. While there were 48 cases from August 1 to 7, there have been 53 positive results as of Thursday on the Vineyard. “Through coronavirus sequencing, it has been determined a large portion of the cases are Delta variant,” the West Tisbury minutes state. “The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than earlier forms of COVID-19.”

All of the Island boards of health met on Wednesday, and though a mask mandate was discussed for the Island, the boards did not move forward with one.

That changed for West Tisbury on Thursday, when the health board also voted unanimously to impose a mask mandate in town in all public places. “This would include restaurants, shopping centers, the laundromat, and all applicable businesses,” the minutes state. “More signs will be purchased to inform the general public this mandate is in place, and the board of health agent will perform inspections at applicable businesses.”

According to the mandate, in a restaurant patrons can only remove masks when seated; lodging guests and workers are required to wear face coverings in common areas; and masks are required in houses of worship. The order also requires masks at places like barbershops, and on all public transportation, and that doors to public places be posted.

The mask mandate went into effect at 12:01 am Friday.

In a separate vote, the West Tisbury board unanimously approved of the mask mandate imposed by the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society for its upcoming fair. The board also discussed having capacity limits and having separate entrances and exits for the exhibit hall. “The Agricultural Fair Society will be responsible for buying and installing signs for the grounds stating indoor masks and social distancing are mandated,” the minutes state.

The board also is switching all public board meetings to remote access via Zoom.

Reporters Brian Dowd and Rich Saltzberg contributed to this report.


  1. Dr. Marty Makary, Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, says those who have recovered from COVID may have an immunity stronger than those with just the vaccine. Therefore, he explains, vaccine passports or mandates that do not account for natural immunity really are just politicized pushes that disregard the science. And that’s why the federal government may be the biggest driver for vaccine hesitancy among Americans today: “This data does not support the arguments…And you lose credibility when you push it the way they’ve been pushing it.”

    • Andy–Dr Makarey is an oncologist. He should stick to that, and let immunologist and infectious disease experts do their job. I have read his OPINION and he is entitled to it.
      Like many anti vaxxers, he says this or that about this or that. I could only find a few studies that he referenced that looked at rates of re infection for those who have already had covid.
      We know one thing for certain; none of the 637,000 Americans who have died from this will be re infected.
      Ok, I don’t doubt that natural immunity is worth something.. However most studies indicate that rates of re infection are twice that of vaccinated individuals
      But back to natural immunity..
      Ok — If you have an antibody test, and you are at least somewhat protected, OK — put that on the covid passport. At least it’s something..
      The problem is, 2 % of people who have either recovered or died have in fact died.
      With a population of 330 million , that’s 6 1/2 million deaths.
      That number might even give pause to the dumbest of the dumb.
      And what would it cost to treat all those dummies that actually survive ?
      if you just say I’ll wait until I get this, and then crowd out some car accident victim in the icu, are you being more selfish than stupid ? Why should my insurance company pay for that ?
      And for people like Marjorie Failer Green to congratulate the people of Alabama on their low vaccination rates and lie about Biden wanting to come to your house is disgusting. Even the most prolific liar on this platform has to wince at this video where she just lies and lies and lies and lies…and then suggest using their second amendment rights against some mythological boogey man
      Deplorable —

    • Andy, the key word is may, as in may or may not.
      The same goes for a oncologist pontificating outside their field expertise, they may, or may not know what they are talking about.

      A “vaccine passport” should contain confirmed entries of the date and severity of the infection along with the antibody levels in the blood. Then every private company and person can make a decision as to the Covid status that they want to deal with. How is that for personal freedoms?

      • Infection is an oncologists field of expertise. Cancer patients in Chemotherapy are more prone to infection than anyone else, and mitigating infectious circumstances is very much a part of being an oncologist!

    • Bill you should know by now that liberals cannot get the vaccine and they cannot infect other people. Liberals have been given the ability to do as I say but not as I do. There are more infected people coming across our southern border every day that liberals do not care about if they really cared about doing something they would shut the border down. Unfortunately they got themselves in a box now and do not know how to get out. What has Kamala Harris done, nothing what is Joe Biden‘s administration done nothing to fix this issue. Main stream media does not even acknowledge it’s a problem. Easy solution reinstall Trump policies and build the wall.

    • Say, Bill, you going to the Ag Fair? If you think the Obama gig was a super spreader at a few hundred vaxed/or covid tested attending, you ain’t seen nuthin’. The Ag Fair will have about 30,000 attending over a few days, with no vaccine or covid testing requirements. Spread the word.

    • You mean the one on Martha’s Vineyard where all guests in attendance were required to have a negative PCR test?
      Maybe it would be more appropriate to go back focusing on Hunter Biden’s laptop or how Joe Biden has destroyed the country and of course how the election was stolen.

    • That was all over last weeks paper. Plus, that took place in Edgartown, this article is about the goings on in West Tisbury. Try and keep up….

  2. Obama did not have a super spreader. He had a scaled back semi-outdoors’s 60th birthday party with a vaccination protocol in place.

    This weeks Super spreader was Mike “the Pillow Pedophile (not one of his pillows is over 18, have you seen some of the awful things that he as done to such young pillows on TV” Lindell.
    All indoors, lots of antivaxers, no masks.

    Bill, have you heard anything about Trump’s next big deal Super Spreader.
    Can he still draw a super size crowd?

  3. Keller. Dr Makary is also a Professor of Surgery and Public Health and teaches it. He is renowned. He is decidedly not an anti vaxer. Do you make this stuff up or are you a racist because he is Egyptian and a Coptic Christian? His views have been consistent unlike St Fauci.

  4. Jacqueline, you should know that if we had 30,000 people on the Island at once, it would flip over.

      • https://www.mvtimes.com/2018/08/22/vineyard-delights-record-breaking-fair/

        Bill Miquin, there were over 38,000 people attending the Ag Fair in 2018. This is a fact, not an opinion. How can you object to the Obama party as a “super spreader” without also objecting to the Fair next week as a HUGE super spreader? Again, the Fair will have approx 30,000 people attending, with no vaccine or covid test requirements, unlike the few hundred attending the Obama’s. Do you know what’s sad? Hypocrisy. Do you know what’s obvious? The hypocrisy when people condemn the Obama party as a super spreader event without condemning the huge super spreader 2021 Ag Fair.

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