2021 by the numbers


Our first full year dealing with a pandemic is coming to a close. While 2020 was partially affected by COVID-19 beginning in March, this year we’ve lived with the effects of the virus throughout. We’ve found a way to get kids back into classrooms, and gotten a large percentage of the population to understand the benefits of the vaccine. Still, we have a way to go when it comes to COVID, and as 2022 gets started, we’re trying to figure out just what this omicron variant will mean in the days and weeks ahead.

According to the most recent data compiled by the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, 34,835 doses of vaccines have been administered on the Island — first, second, and booster shots.

Here are some other significant numbers from 2020:

On Jan. 6, the U.S. Capitol was under attack from pro-Trump supporters upset with the outcome of the election. The investigation since that day has resulted in more than 700 arrests of rioters, according to the New York Times. Former President Trump was impeached for a second time by the U.S. House, this time for his role in inciting the insurrection. For the second time, the U.S. Senate failed to convict Trump, a demonstration of the bipartisan divide that has continued throughout 2022.

As the year began, vaccine distribution began, and there was a lot of frustration. For example, at the end of January, the hospital received just 370 doses of the vaccine, even though an estimated 5,000 residents were eligible. That left a lot of people anxious, as the rollout was slow.

In a 7-5 vote in February, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission rejected a proposed expansion project for the Hob Knob Inn in Edgartown, but it was the 10-6 vote later in the year narrowly approving a synthetic turf field for Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School that put the commission in the spotlight in 2021. Herb Foster left us at 93 years old in late February. Just a few weeks earlier, the Island had celebrated Foster with a birthday party.

In March, Gannon & Benjamin fulfilled a dream by purchasing its building, as well as 30 Beach Road, where The Times is located, for $2.7 million from the DeSorcy family.

April saw the return of up-Island Cronig’s, to the delight of customers, after $1.2 to $1.4 million in renovations to the supermarket.

In mid-May, the federal government approved 62 wind turbines for Vineyard Wind 1, which is on target to be the first commercial offshore wind farm in the U.S. In November, ground was broken at a beach on Cape Cod, where the transmission lines will come ashore for the 800megawatt project. The end of May saw 10,000 vehicle reservations for the Steamship Authority ferries, up from a prepandemic high of 8,692 in 2019 for Memorial Day Weekend. While it was dealing with that huge ridership number, the SSA was also hit with a ransomware attack that crippled its website.

In mid-June, voters in Tisbury approved a $55 million renovation and addition project for Tisbury School by a vote of 821 to 224. On July 8, Tisbury celebrated its 350th birthday with little fanfare, because of the ongoing pandemic.

Part-time Island resident former President Barack Obama turned 60 in August, and caused a nationwide furor when he planned a party with a guest list of 475 that included some Hollywood A-listers like George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, and Steven Spielberg. Obama eventually scaled back the party, but still danced the night away at his Edgartown estate. That same month, a story emerged from a Chilmark camp that dominated the headlines for weeks to come, involving three boys — two white campers who put a tent strap around the neck of a Black camper. The incident ignited conversations about race and camp safety.

When 20-year-old Hannah Malany Iozzo of West Brookfield died in a moped accident in Chilmark in September, it reignited the call for a ban on moped rentals. Oak Bluffs has since approved a home-rule petition and sent it back to the state legislature, after this crash revealed that the proposed legislation had been allowed to lapse despite tremendous public support for it on the Island. That month also saw a deal finalized between the Land Bank and the Kennedy-Schlossberg family to purchase 10 more acres of Aquinnah land that will become the 304-acre Squibnocket Pond Reservation.

In October, Steve Bernier, who purchased Cronig’s in 1985, told The Times he had hand-picked his successor to carry on the tradition of the Tisbury and West Tisbury supermarkets being locally owned. Bernier will be handing over the keys and decisionmaking to longtime employee Andrea Donnelly. Bernier will be staying on as a consultant. October ended with the loss of 89-year-old Kent Healy, a West Tisbury select board member and a respected member of the community.

A contractor for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) made a costly cement mix-up in November. The contractor poured smooth cement, despite town specifications that called for an aggregate mix that matches other sidewalks in Vineyard Haven. The mistake will be borne by the contractor to the tune of $50,000, a MassDOT spokesperson told us.
December ended the way the year started, with COVID-19 on everyone’s mind — specifically the omicron variant. After Thanksgiving, the Island saw a spike in cases, with 376 positive test results reported in December. That’s more cases than June, July, and August of 2021 combined, which saw a combined 373 positive results.

We’re hoping for a happier New Year — so mask up, get vaccinated, and do your part.