COVID cases hit single digit 

There were eight new cases last week. — Illustration by Nicole Jackson

Updated Sept. 28 

Last week’s confirmed COVID case count reached single digits for the first time since early July, with only eight new cases reported by the Martha’s Vineyard boards of health. Just five weeks ago, the Island was averaging close to 14 cases a day, prompting Island boards of health to impose mandatory indoor mask mandates.

There were five cases reported at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, two at TestMV, and one from another provider. Seven are being monitored by public health officials, and one is not. Of the eight cases, five were symptomatic, and three people’s symptoms were unknown. One person was fully vaccinated, four were not vaccinated, and three had unknown vaccination status.

A year and half into the pandemic, the Island has reached 2,000 confirmed positive cases.

In total, since Sept. 22, the hospital has administered 26,000 tests, with 1,447 positive tests. The TestMV asymptomatic testing site has administered 43,462 tests, with 487 positives. The town of Aquinnah has administered 656 tests, with four positives.

So far this week, there have been no new positive cases reported.

With the number of cases so low, Tisbury health agent and boards of health spokesperson Maura Valley said the mask mandate is still in effect. “We’re going to wait and see what happens over the next week or so, and then discuss whether to lift the mask mandate and revert to a mask advisory,” Valley said.

The low number of cases comes as the state Department of Public Health authorized those over the age of 65 to get a third dose of the vaccine. Currently only those who have received the two-dose Pfizer shot are eligible for a booster shot.

Those who received Moderna shots or the Johnson & Johnson shot will likely need a booster shot. Information on those will be available in the coming weeks.

Hospital communications specialist Marissa Lefebvre said the hospital will release more information on booster shots soon. “MVH is preparing to administer Pfizer booster shots,” Lefebvre said. “We are identifying staff, securing supplies, and expect to begin giving them soon; no specific timetable yet.”

Updated to correct booster shots are only for those who have received Pfizer. —Ed.


    • I think we can agree that population drop also assisted that massive decrease. Jacqueline Mendez-Diez has been very quiet since her prediction of super spreader event at the ag fair.

      • Hmm, “Bart”, always interesting to see a new commenter who makes a point of spelling my name correctly. Thank you for paying attention to covid, even if “you” had nothing to say in July or August about holding large scale events known to spread covid. In fact, the approximate 250-300 new cases of covid on the island in the weeks immediately following the fair, had to come from somewhere, right? Science tells us that spread happens in public gatherings where there are mixes of vaxed and unvaxed and masked and unmasked and some who are immune compromised– you know, like at fairs, in restaurants, parties, etc. After many people left the island after the Ag Fair, we simply don’t know how many of them were exposed here at the Fair, in a restaurant, at a party, and spread disease after they went home. Covid is far from over. Of course I am glad that the 300 or so new island cases were not 3000, but that’s thanks to the community who mostly wore masks, social distanced, were vaxed, and kept their small children away from indoor or crowded activities. It;s not thanks to planning a large scale event! Many, many islanders stayed away altogether because the Ag Fair did indeed welcome unvaxed folks who did not wear masks outside. That was irresponsible. Rational minds know that at least one infected person was on the fairgrounds. No one has asked the 300 or so island case if they were at the fair or live with someone who was. Thankfully, and no thanks to the Ag Society, we have a mostly responsible community who were extra careful if they did go. But it’s clear we would have not had as many new cases had there not been a Fair– You certainly cannot make any claim that the Ag Fair did not contribute to any of the hundreds of new covid cases in the weeks following. Happily, we are all doing better on the island now, as most of us are not antivaxer, anti-masker idiots and we are not attending large scale public gatherings with indoor activities.

        And since you mentioned it, “Bart”, I have been mostly quiet on the topic after some creepy creep cyber-stalked me, sending me inappropropriate private messages on my social media accounts, including one apparently drunken message that seemed somewhat threatening, or at least gaslight-y-ish, in the middle of the night. He sure had no problem spelling my name. The messages stopped after I threatened to go to the police if he continued. I understand why some people use fake names here to remain anonymous in their comments, even though the Times requires full, real names. Not everyone complies.

      • Bart –in the 3 weeks following the fair there were over 200 cases reported on the vineyard– we have no idea how many may have been infected and went off island with it. Do you know for sure that none of them were picked up at the fair ?
        We do know one thing with certainty, None of the approximately 250 fully vaccinated and recently tested people at the Obama birthday party were infected there.

        • Don, I doubt we’ll be hearing from “Bart” again. His point reveals he is holding onto resentment over my Ag Fair comments when I voiced my concern over the utter recklessness of holding large gatherings. He commented here without taking into account that our high numbers of new cases following the fair were in part likely and largely due to the Ag Fair. No one is foolish enough to argue that reality. After all, we know how covid is spread, and it’s not spread to anyone who is not exposed to it. Besides, if “Bart Conroy” is his real name I’ll eat my hat. I believe I know exactly who it is and he knows it.

          Anyway, I agree we need to continue the mask mandate. It hurts no one, while maskless-ness hurts everyone. It only takes one maskless, infected person in the grocery store to do the dirty work of spreading covid.

          • Sorry for my delayed response jac and don. Fortunately I have a job and life outside of covid. I know that both of you are retired and have nothing better to do than watch CNN sun up to sun down. To touch on dons comment about a “controlled study”. Don, Florida vs Martha’s Vineyard isn’t a controlled study. Population density, average age, infections per thousands. Florida has at least 3-4 major city’s. Massachusetts has 1. So for you to say that’s a controlled study Is a little far fetched. Jac, the cases were clearly on the rise leading up to the fair. I think there was about 90 something the week before 70 the week after and 60 the following week. So to me that downward trend was happening with or without the fair. You have claimed a number of times that it would be and was a super spreader event because thousands of people attend. Have you yet heard of a football stadium or baseball stadium be there root of a Covid outbreak? No I haven’t, please share a link and prove me wrong. Also, not sure what happened to you on social media, but you have absolutely no clue who I am. And I wouldn’t expect you to.

          • Bart, I want to second a point already made. I think it would be impossible to determine any true effect the Ag Fair had on COVID because so many who attended left MV shortly after and returned home. If they later got sick, those cases would be counted in their towns, not here. So yes, your assertion that population drop helped *us* is likely accurate, but that doesn’t mean the event failed to spread COVID. It may mean that other communities got stuck with some of our mess. No one knows.

            That’s the problem with living in a tourist area during a pandemic—our pop fluctuates far too quickly to know exactly what we’re dealing with in terms of spread and risk. Still, there were multiple Island cases that followed the fair. I’m sure we’re all grateful the numbers didn’t climb any higher than they did, but I wouldn’t discount those.

            The thing about prevention is that you plan to avoid the worst while hoping for the best. We wear seatbelts. Most times, we arrive at our destinations without being involved in a crash and needing them. Does that mean the seatbelts were a bad or dramatic idea? Of course not. With thousands gathering during Delta, many of them unvaccinated little kids, we didn’t really have a choice but to look at risk and advocate for precautions. Of course no can ever predict exact outcomes. We can only observe what’s been shown to work best and try to make responsible decisions. I feel that is all Jackie and everyone else was trying to get across. We still have Islanders who firmly believe COVID is a flat-out hoax, so sometimes points are made forcefully because we’re trying to break through the denial of facts.

            I’m really glad to see the numbers falling now. Let’s keep doing what works.

      • Bart– just for your information, I am not retired.
        Do you take your cues from Andrew, who routinely proclaims this or that about someone and therefore it is true ?
        let me just tell you, that I heard Howie Carr hawking solar power generators a few days ago..
        I am 69 years old and I still work for a living–I have since I was in my teens– And I am a veteran– I am certainly in better shape than you will be at my age. If we want to have uncollaborated speculation about who we are and what we do, I’ll just state that you are in a psychiatric ward and have nothing better to do than watch soap operas — And I actually did work in psychiatric wards in my earlier career, so I know about what goes on in these wards..
        Really Bart, you have no idea what you are talking about when you speculate about who I am or what i do.
        let’s stick to the topics rather than take the low road and try to defame people.
        Your lame response about Florida having more cities is ridiculous..

  1. If mask mandates have resulted in such favorable results, why would we even be considering dropping them this early . If you are pulling a drowning man to shore with a rope, do you drop the rope when he is halfway to safety??

  2. No correlation between mask use and dropping cases can be made unless you also had a control group that was not wearing masks. In countries across the globe the delta variant burned itself out after approximately 2 months. This is the most likely scenario.

    • We do have a control group that is not wearing masks — or getting vaccines, either. The overwhelming percentage of people who died from covid-19 is that control group. Very few people who had vaccinations and wear/wore masks are among the fatalities of this deadly virus. Read the percentage of vaccinations given in any country vs. the number of people dying. This information is so clear that I feel this entire post is most probably superfluous.

    • You have spent the better part of the past year in a jeremiad against wearing masks or taking this virus seriously. Delta has not burned out and in many areas it is worse than ever, especially in the areas of this country that ignore common sense and the scientific method. I don’t know what terrible, self-destructive nihilism infests your soul, but the rest of us would prefer to live, and to make public policy choices that reflect that preference.

    • John, surgeons wear masks for a reason, to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.
      Is that not enough correlation for you?

  3. John — we have a control group in Florida.
    You say “In countries across the globe the delta variant burned itself out after approximately 2 months”
    What countries were those ?
    Where did you get that idea from ?

    The first cases of the delta variant in the U.S were reported in may of 2021.
    By the end of July it was responsible for about 80% of the cases.
    It is currently responsible for 99 % of cases.

    I count 4 months and there doesn’t seem to be any dramatic drop in cases …

    • Indonesia, Thailand, France, Spain to name a few. Averaged 1.5 to 2 months. Delta took off in our area in mid July. It has consistently decreased for the last 3 weeks. As much as you hope this “crisis” will continue, it is on the way out.

    • India, UK, and some countries in Asia. Delta variant had a 40-45 day cycle, highly contagious impacting vaccinated, unvaccinated, masked and unmasked communities. The peak in the US was about August 12 “‘A significant signal of the upcoming peak in US COVID-19 infections is the effective reproduction number (Rt) that is now declining in 40 out of 50 US states (see here). For instance, in FL this indicator declined from ~1.4 to ~1 over the past few weeks, in a sign cases may start dropping soon. In fact, in several states with early Delta variant outbreaks, COVID-19 cases already started declining (Utah, Missouri, Alaska and possibly Nevada and Wisconsin). This makes us believe that the US inflection is days away, : Kalonovic/Data Scientist. The graph attached above is similar to communities all over the nation.

  4. John — I looked at the countries you mentioned, as well as a few other random ones, and it seems you are correct about a spike and then a drop in cases in about 2 months. The U.S included.
    I appreciate you taking the time to actually look at real statistics.
    I will point out though, as the worldwide surge happened, some countries re implemented mandatory mask requirements, most people with common sense took more precautions, more people got vaccinated, and of course more people acquired immunity the hard way.
    I have no idea why you think I hope this will continue. I of course do not hope that, and your assertion that I do is a typical ploy trying to discredit me personally, or anyone who thinks this should be taken seriously.
    Of course this will pass, but at what cost in “lives and treasure” , as the military describes their losses ?
    I think taking reasonable steps to mitigate the losses is the responsible thing to do.
    When we have a frequent commenter here declaring the pandemic over while over a thousand people a day die from it is grossly irresponsible and leads some people to think the danger has passed, let their guard down , and help spread the disease.
    But again– I appreciate some real information from someone with right leaning views. It is rare.. Thanks

  5. Katie lane, I would agree with you, we don’t know if people did get infected and go home. But why should we just assume worst case? And treat it like everyone left with it? Also with kids getting Covid, please look up Covid deaths in kids via the CDC website. Compare that to kids that die of the regular glue every year. I’m not saying that Covid is a hoax and “just the flu” but the numbers don’t lie. As everyone always says “look at the data” “trust the data”. While you’re on the cdc website look up age of death from Covid. Around 500,000 deaths are from 65 plus age group. Please go look for yourself and let me know what you think. I can always share the links if you’d like

    • Bart, I’m not assuming the worst about the fair, just pointing out that we may not have the full picture. Back when hardly anything was open, it was easier to trace and pinpoint to what degree something became a “spreader” event. While I don’t think everyone left with COVID, it’s likely some did. So if the question is whether spread predictions were on point enough to satisfy some, we can’t completely answer that without additional data. Personally, I’m not worried about how we label it. I still feel that when it comes to a contagious variant and large gatherings, calls for precautions make sense. Plus, the fair was held at a time when our hospital was extremely busy. What would constitute an overburdened crisis here is quite different from on the mainland. We simply don’t have the resources to manage a relatively big outbreak. For that factor alone, I believe the concern was well-informed.

      I brought up kids because of hospitalization rates. Per the CDC, they rose nearly five-fold over the summer due to Delta. In some locations, pediatric hospitals have been filled to capacity recently.

  6. “Bart”, we are up to 700,000 deaths, not 500,000. 200,000 people matter so little to you that you don’t bother with keeping up, especially if they were mostly old people who are retired and watch TV all day? So much for “numbers don’t lie”. You numbers are false. You know, fake. You’re wrong about children, as well, with 2000 new cases and 200 hospitalizations each week, last I checked. You do realize that children under 12 at the fair were unvaxed, right? Anyone who is infected can spread COVID anywhere, especially when the opportunity is there, like at the Ag Fair with unvaxed and unmasked people in crowded groups. Where do you suppose the hundreds of NEW cases on the island (that we know about) came from in the weeks immediately following the fair?

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