Island sees elevated COVID numbers

Omicron variant detected in Massachusetts.

The Island is seeing an increase in COVID cases this week, including one hospitalization. — Brian Dowd

Updated 12/5

After several weeks of level results from COVID-19 testing, the Vineyard is suddenly seeing an uptick in cases. In daily reports released this week, the Island boards of health have reported 59 cases between Sunday and Friday afternoon. That’s almost as many cases as the Island saw in the previous four weeks combined.

Marissa Lefebvre, a spokesperson for Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, confirmed one person is currently hospitalized with COVID.

Asked if the recent uptick in cases can be attributed to the Thanksgiving holiday, Lefebvre wrote: “We’re unable to say for sure, but the timing of the rise in cases does align with the holiday.”

Maura Valley, Tisbury’s health agent and a spokesperson for the Island boards of health, wrote: I attribute the spike in cases to people moving indoors and celebrating the holidays, whether by traveling to visit family or having family members and friends visit them.”

With other events planned for the holidays, Valley reminded folks to wear masks to slow the spread of COVID. “As has been said many times, people should wear masks when in congested areas or in close proximity to others outside of their immediate family,” she wrote. “They should also get vaccinated if they haven’t done so already and get a booster when they are eligible.”

In some cases, Valley wrote, there are two to five family members infected, but there have been no more clusters reported thus far.

This comes as Massachusetts reported a significant increase in infections this week, as well. On Wednesday Massachusetts reported 5,170 new cases, with 989 patients hospitalized in the Bay State. That’s the highest case count since last winter’s surge in cases.

Lefebvre wrote that there is no evidence of the Omicron variant on the Island, but she noted that Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital are working in collaboration with MIT and Harvard’s Broad Institute using sequencing technology to detect the Omicron variant in COVID samples. “We expect to learn more in the coming weeks,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, the hospital continues to administer vaccines. “We are seeing a very high demand for booster shots at the hospital,” Lefebvre wrote.

On Saturday, the state Department of Public Health issued a press release indicating that the first case of the Omicron variant was detected in Massachusetts. “The individual is a female in her 20s and a resident of Middlesex County who traveled out of state. She is fully vaccinated, has experienced mild disease, and did not require hospitalization. The variant was identified through sequencing performed at New England Biolabs,” the release states.

The release goes on to say that while the Omicron variant is classified with the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization as a “variant of concern,” scientists are still working to determine its severity and how easily it’s transmitted. “There is some limited evidence that Omicron could be more transmissible than other COVID-19 virus variants, including Delta,” the release states. “This variant is being monitored closely by public health authorities around the world, and more information about what we know about Omicron is available on the CDC website.”
The release goes on to urge folks who haven’t been vaccinated to get a shot and for others to get the booster. 

Valley said the Island will provide additional access to booster shots with a vaccine bus Dec. 11 and Dec. 12. People are asked to preregister for the shots. A flyer provides the information in both English and Portuguese.

Updated to include detection of Omicron variant in Massachusetts. -Ed.


  1. No one is surprised by an “uptick” in cases, Covid is here to stay. If we could convince everyone to get vaccinated and wear masks when they should, we could keep it tamped down – until this day comes, we will continue to see the rise and fall of cases everywhere.

    Mike Ack (unless you are trying to be funny) have a realist approach to this, we cannot shut down the island.

  2. Numbers go up, numbers go down. People freak out, people get complacent. At the same time, people are willfully turning a blind eye towards the fatal affliction that is filling onto obituary pages… old age. W we

    • Lost a cousin from this. wake up everyone get vaccinated. He was only 49 and in good health. He left two children and a wife and many other people.

    • If everyone masks, maintains distance, and gets the vaccine, healthcare facilities won’t have to turn away because beds are filled with contagious virus patients. That includes the aged, injured, and those with operable illnesses. And then family and friends can visit and comfort because the patients isn’t intubated in an isolation unit.

  3. I have to say, that I have been hearing for a while that as winter sets in and idiots refuse the vaccine, cases will go up.
    For those that think Dr. Fauci is an idiot, he has been at the front of the line warning us about this. Interestingly enough, those that have been most critical of Dr. Fauci have been telling us that the pandemic is over.
    Of course, some will claim that there never was a pandemic, and that fewer than 1000 Americans have died from this “little flu”.
    They can have that opinion, but it is pretty clear who the idiots are.
    Get the vaccine. Even 5 year old’s are stepping up and doing the patriotic thing.

    • Yep, and the idiots cover a wide swath of Americans, from the antivaxers, to those who think this doesn’t affect them, to the minimizes who say we’re all going to die eventually anyway, so accept the ups and downs, and besides, grandpa was on his last legs anyway. Instead of being a normal person who does the right thing by encouraging vaccines and boosters, wearing masks in public, and avoiding large groups, the idiots want to have their stupid say, vaxed or not.
      And let’s not forget the idiots who think sunshine and healthy eating will protect everyone if only they would wake up and become vegan and take off their muzzles. These are the people who watch YouTube videos posted by crackpots, and actually believe they are doing “research”. Idiots are everywhere.
      Anyone I have heard disparage Dr Fauci is either extremely stupid or belongs to a crazy religious cult.
      Which is not to say that vaxed don’t behave idiotically. One of the first omicron cases in this country was vaccinated but had just attended a 52,000 people anime conference at NY’s Javitts Center. Vaxed people can get the virus and spread it. That’s why everyone still should avoid crowds and wear a mask in public. You’d think it was rocket science!

      • Don, we need mandates because people are selfish or dumb or both. We need mandates and laws for the same reason we need religion— to try to keep people behaving in a way that is helpful to the larger community. Not that the imposition of rules stops anyone. Consequences are what gets the control over those hellbent on being selfish, hurting others, and not caring a fig about it. Mandates, fines, job loss, societal pressure, and no entry without proof of vaccination into any public space or private place of employment do the trick. NYC has the right idea. Everyone over the age of 5 has to be vaccinated basically to do anything and go anywhere public in the city, beginning next week. If everyone on the island wore a fitted mask around others and was vaxed and boosted, we would not be having this predicted holiday surge that has, so far, hospitalized 2 Islanders. Waning immunity among vaxed, particularly among elderly, among recovered covid cases, and among immune suppressed folks call for mandates for everyone because too many people simply do not do the right thing to protect themselves and others.

    • Don,
      I will reply to you as you are the more sensible among the avowed liberal commenters. Let me establish a few premises. Getting Covid is not a good thing. Getting vaccinated reduces the chance of serious illness or death and is thus a good thing. Sensible precautions like mask wearing and social distancing are smart when the risk of transmission in a particular area reaches a high level. Where I am in polite disagreement is the notion that we need to be in a state of alarmist panic and view covid as an existential threat. Yes, people die of Covid, and some of these are preventable due to vaccine hesitancy. There are reports of infected people in parts of the country going to their deathbeds claiming the virus is a hoax and the vaccines are evil. These people are fools. However, if we look at our local papers, the vast majority of obituary listings are elderly, which is a sign of a progressive and healthy community. While we were led to believe in the past that we would see scores of our fellow islanders felled by Covid, this thankfully has not come to pass. I’ve heard sensible physicians say if you’re going to focus on statistics, the numbers of cases matters less than hospitalizations and deaths. In the past you’ve stated that our low mortality rates are due to the island being white and affluent, which is questionable on the grounds that a substantial part of our community is international and the wage-to-cost of living ratio among the majority of islanders would hardly qualify us as a wealthy community . My belief is that while Covid is something to be aware of, it’s not something to shut life down over. We will need to coexist with it and find ways to move past the panic mentality. While it’s absurd for people on the right to politicize Covid and downplay its risk, it’s equally absurd for people on the left to exaggerate its risk and demand unreasonable restrictions in perpetuity. Early in the pandemic Governor Andrew Cuomo did his version of FDR’s Fireside Chats; to discriminating ears they seemed saccharine and self-serving. His brother Chris made a dramatic storyline at CNN out of his own covid case, including a segment of him “emerging” from his basement after his 2 week quarantine. Today both have been fired from their respective positions.

      • Alex– You and I are in agreement on a number of things concerning covid.
        For quite a while, I have been against the imposition of mask mandates on the island. I think the rates are low enough and the consequences of actually getting it are mild enough to warrant allowing the people ( and store owners) the choice. Of course the consequences of getting it are worse for unvaxxed people. I have empathy for those who for various medical reasons can’t get vaccinated. But for the selfish idiots who are able to get it, I will once again say that I could not care less about what happens to them. Let them eat Ivermectin at home and stay out of our hospital. Also, people who claim a “religious exemption” are in my opinion in the same category. Let them pray at home and stay out of our hospital also.
        And just for the record, I DO NOT recommend eating Pasta as a treatment for covid or anything else– except hunger.
        While I’m at it I might as well chime in on the media hype about the Omicron variant. Here’s my personal conspiracy theory.
        I personally think this one MAY turn out to be a good thing.
        The virus is not out to kill us.. It just wants to reproduce. So Omicron is apparently more easily transferred from person to person, but not as severe. As of Dec 4 th there have been no confirmed deaths worldwide.
        Since it is more infectious, if could become the dominant strain, and push out other variants like Delta. ( viruses compete among themselves , I theorize). Anyone who gets this variant will presumably acquire at least some degree of immunity.
        It also has revealed to researchers some of the possible variations we might see in the future. It would be like capturing an enemy’s secret tank, but it has no ammo.
        I think the media is hyping it to get ratings.. I could be wrong of course, and this will by no means be the last variant. We are stuck with covid for a while. Especially since we have millions of idiots in this country,and billions of people in under developed countries that are at extremely low vaccination rates. Shame on developed countries for that.
        And to Jim K– that’s 80% of the adult population in the U.S is at least partially vaxed. As of Dec 2 just under 60% of the entire population is fully vaxed.

  4. Research has shown that publicly calling antivaxers “idiots” is not helpful in persuading them to get vaccinated. This is common sense, and any idiot would know that.

    • Lol, Vicki, but come on. If you haven’t yet discovered it’s a Sisyphean task trying to persuade a rabid anti-vaxer to get vaccinated, you simply haven’t yet torn out enough of your hair. Name-calling is simply a way of describing them. Perhaps you will have more success if you spend your time convincing a Trump supporter that Biden really did win the election. Good luck. The point is not to persuade any idiots of anything. It’s a lost cause– until they’re on their deathbed, gasping for air, and make their “shouldda got the jab” statement. The best we can do is keep following the science with masks and distancing and washing hands, mandate vaccinations, fire those who don’t comply, and shun the medically-eligible but idiotic anti-vaxers from social interactions. And don’t support anti-vaccine business owners. That’s the only convincing that has any effect with idiots.

  5. Vicki– You are correct, any idiot knows that you cannot persuade idiots to get vaccinated any more than you can convince them that the 2020 election was legitimate.
    My intent here is not to persuade anyone to do anything. I’m just pointing out that those who call Dr. Fauci an idiot are even more idiot-er than he is.
    And please, don’t think that just because I call them idiots means that I really want them to get vaccinated. They can get their immunity the “natural” way, for all I care.
    And if they can’t vote on election day because they are in an ICU and the republican party successfully restricts mail in voting, who knows ? — Perhaps it could tip an election or 2 in favor of democrats. The great majority of the unvaccinated are republicans after all.

  6. Jackie, do you realize 80% of the population in the United States is vaccinated. The vaccine does not stop you from getting COVID nor does it stop you from spreading it. How long do we have to “avoid crowds” for? COVID is here to stay as is the flu. The vaccine gives you mild symptoms. Get over it already.

    • The vaccine does not kill the virus, its function is to prevent an individual from being infected by it. The virus may be inhaled and then exhaled on another, thus putting at risk the people standing around. That’s what masks and social distancing are for.

      Everyone getting vaccinated or somehow immunized will not stop the virus. Also, not dying from the virus still has negative effects, best known are organ and musculoskeletal damage, and diminished mental abilities.

      Or you can mask and not crowd those around you, keep from unknowingly passing the virus to others.

    • Wrong, incorrect , fake news all of it, 80%?, where do you get that number, CDC 3 days ago verified 59.6% vaccinated for the USA. Your 80% number would represent one blue state, not the red states that are unable to get over 50& vac.. rate. Just don’t through out numbers and facts like your trash each week.

  7. Who has a panic mentality or is suggesting shut downs? A sarcastic comment can’t be construed as “freaking out”. Responsible people are continuing to behave responsibly and wisely, and we all wish that the idiots were capable of doing the same. As a boosted person in good health, there’s little normal activity that should be restricted. Mask wearing is considerate behavior, not panicked behavior. The hysterics are the ones getting physically violent when asked to put a mask on.

    Unless one has an unhealthy addiction to schadenfreude, though, I can’t imagine why anyone would bring up the Brothers Cuomo into a discussion about antivaxers and rising covid cases on Martha’s Vineyard. Maybe if one is actually a conservative Republican with a penchant for misogyny, I can see the need to veer off in this discussion and inappropriately insert a barely disguised glee (to discriminating ears) at seeing any liberal’s downfall. Yes, conservatives hatred of liberals runs deep. I suppose the irrelevant mention of the fall of either Cuomo into any
    island covid discussion must be a psychological salve to the conservative rage at liberals for, among other things, about being right about just about everything covid-related, including how to manage the pandemic. We can thank conservative Republicans for making masks and vaccines a source of ridicule and things to be avoided. How embarrassing is that? Not to mention, deadly.

    And for the record on truthfulness, while it may be an example of “You can’t fire me, I quit” Andrew Cuomo was not “fired”. He resigned from office, as he should have.

    • Hi Don-
      I’m going to reply to a few points raised above and I’m curious for your thoughts. I respect your ability to have a thoughtful dialog. I believe that when Americans refuse to get the vaccine and then end up in the hospital fighting for their lives, the hospital staff are heroic for administering care to people who have spit in their professional faces by sticking stubbornly to an anti-scientific, ignorant worldview. The scientific data is clear that vaccines reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization. I can only imagine what it’s like to pull a 16 hour shift caring for people who insist it’s all a hoax while they consume valuable medical resources.

      I cite the Cuomo brothers as an example of the exhaustion many people are having with public figures in media and politics who claim to have a moral authority and leadership role and then turn out to be less than stellar. I’d certainly include Donald Trump in this rogues gallery. Cuomo’s responsibility for abetting the spread of pre-vaccine covid cases in nursing home facilities is another matter for another day. The idea that these people would present themselves as heroic leaders during a national crisis is tough to take. In terms of Dr. Fauci, I’m going to do something rare today- say that I don’t have enough information to have an opinion, rather than blast one out there. RFK has a new book out that claims to expose him, but I haven’t read it and don’t know enough about RFK’s agenda and background to know if he’s credible. What troubles me is the assumption that everyone falls into neat camps, liberal or conservative. I consider myself a free thinker, which means I take things case by case and don’t put them into prefabricated mental molds of “Evil Conservatives” or “Crazy Liberals”. I do know that we’ve been whipsawed with often contradictory information- you don’t need masks, you do need them, you don’t need booster shots, now everyone should get one, etc. Muddled messaging seems to be the norm in the current government-media era.

  8. Science is fluid and recommendations (like whether or not to wear a mask if you’re vaxed) can change as knowledge unfolds and variants appear. Failing to keep up as facts accrue leaves some people feeling muddled.

    It’s pretty simple, though: wear a mask in public, get vaxed and boosted if medically eligible, and live your life. There’s nothing muddled or contradictory there, unless you’re a conservative Republican who bristles and whines at how science and facts and growing knowledge work during a pandemic.

    The only thing to know about RFK, Jr is that he is an antivaxer crackpot. But nice try plugging his book to discredit Fauci, transparent disclaimers of ignorance aside. Hard to imagine that anyone not living under a rock, and who buys the politics about Cuomo and nursing homes, doesn’t know the one obvious simple fact about this environmental lawyer’s very public antivaxer campaign, extending to all vaccines, not just covid.

    Bringing Junior up as an example to “expose” Fauci is an ignorant ploy (WITH a disclaimer, lol), worthy of any conservative Republican spreading lies about covid. Lies are not debatable. People who actually think freely and for themselves know this.
    If you don’t yet know enough about Dr Fauci to respect his knowledge, advice, and experience, you’re either a Republican or an antivaxer!

  9. My warning is we should remain on guard until we know more about the omicron variant. A virus mutates for survivability, that might include against the vaccines. As for survivability, I read this thing can trade RNA characteristics with other variants, potentially very bad.

    Covid-19 is not a seasonal bug we can shrug off and masking an endurable inconvenience.

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