At a joint meeting Friday morning between Tisbury selectmen and town board of health officials to discuss coronavirus preparations, selectmen voted unanimously to postpone all meetings on town-owned property through May 1. This will also lead to an adjournment of the annual town and special town meetings, which were scheduled for March 31. As per law, town moderator Deborah Medders will issue a declaration postponing the town meetings

Town elections, which occur two weeks after the annual town meeting, are also postponed.

Tisbury board of health commissioner Michael Loberg was vocal in his support of canceling all public meetings, in order to “flatten the curve” of Covid-19 infections.

Tisbury board of health commissioner Michael Loberg stressed the severity of the issue. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“This is considered an aggressive pathogen and we are in the exponential phase of growth,” he said. “The number of people affected is doubling every four to six days. If we do nothing and that curve shoots up, then all of a sudden that exponential growth hits the Island and hits our health care providers. We will immediately lose our ability to defend ourselves medically, because we don’t have enough resources.”

Mr. Loberg said while only one Vineyard resident has been tested for coronavirus, and the test was negative, the long incubation period for Covid-19 means that Islanders could be infectious without knowing it.

“There’s a five to six day dormancy period before you would express any symptoms at all,” he said.

Fire chief John Schilling also supported closing town buildings to groups. The emergency services facility where his department is based has a training room popular for meetings, and Mr. Schilling expressed concern about the emergency medical technicians who bunk in the building when they’re on shift waiting for calls.

Friday’s vote closes that facility and other Tisbury-owned property to gatherings, although town administrator Jay Grande said health agent Maura Valley would have the final say on activities like group meals at the senior center.

Tisbury School is not included in the prohibition. “We don’t have jurisdiction over what the school system does,” selectman Melinda Loberg said. “They are working on this on their own, and we are communicating with them continually.”

While town meetings take place on school property, they are included in the postponement. Ms. Medders said state law allows her to postpone the annual town meeting for no more than 30 days, but that she can renew the postponement at that time.

Mr. Schilling said it’s important for the public to know that new information about the pandemic is becoming available to town officials on almost an hourly basis, so more changes are likely to come.

“People need to understand how fluid this situation is,” he said. “We are on this 24/7 and developing plans as the need arises.”

Ms. Loberg and Mr. Grande urged Tisbury residents to consult the town website,, for the latest updates.