Martha's Vineyard Hospital reported another 11 new positive coronavirus tests Thursday morning, bringing the Island's weekly case total to 54 as a recent Covid-19 spike continues unabated.

The 11 new cases reported Thursday morning come just after Island health agents reported the largest single-day case volume on the Island since the pandemic began, with 19 new cases Wednesday, four on Tuesday and 20 on Monday. The 54 new cases this week dwarf previous weekly highs on the Island. 

Meanwhile, Cronig's Market, a staple Island grocery store that has been closed since last Friday afternoon after a cluster of employees tested positive for the virus, reopened at 8:00 a.m. Thursday. The market will have limited hours, closing at 6:00 p.m. 

In a daily online update Thursday morning, the hospital reported that 120 patients have tested positive for the virus at the facility as of 9:30 a.m., 11 more than the 109 reported on Tuesday. 

The hospital update reported that there are no patients currently hospitalized with the virus. Thirty tests remain pending. 

Island health officials release daily case totals around 5 p.m., which can include new cases from the hospital as well as patients who were tested at TestMV, meaning daily case numbers could increase. 

Speaking to the Gazette by phone Thursday, Tisbury health agent Maura Valley said that there have now been 14 cases connected to a cluster outbreak among employees of the Cronig's Market grocery store, and another four connected to their families. The rest of the cases appear to be a mix of seemingly unrelated family and social groups, according to Island health officials. In public statements and meetings, they have cited a lack of seriousness in people’s observance of social distancing guidelines and mask wearing, as well as “Covid fatigue,” as factors in the case rise.

Ms. Valley said she is still trying to piece together whether there are connections between other cases. 

"There's the Cronig's cases, and then some other, smaller groups of people that are connected with each other, and there are other ones that I haven't seen any connection yet," Ms. Valley said. "I'm going to have my office be like one of those CSI scenes."

Ms. Valley said that she had not heard of any cases being connected to employees who commute either on or off-Island for work. 

Twelve cases were reported by the hospital on Wednesday. An additional six cases were reported in a daily public health update from TestMV later that afternoon, bringing that day's case total to 18. A nineteenth patient tested positive for the virus off-Island and was reported by the state public health database, Tisbury health agent Maura Valley confirmed over email. 

There have now been 81 new cases reported in the past two weeks, shattering previous two-week case highs on the Island — both of which were set earlier this fall. The recent case rise has touched a wide swath of the Vineyard’s civic and public life, forcing two towns to cancel their special town meetings, a grocery store to shutter and schools to postpone expanded in-person learning.

Although active case numbers are only updated once per week, it is likely that there are between 50 and 60 currently active cases on the Island, considering the more than 50 new cases reported since Monday and the 17 active cases as of last Friday. Health agents have said that community spread is likely occurring for the first time since the pandemic began. 

While a case cluster among Cronig’s Market employees accounts for ten of the recent cases, 

Three positive cases have been reported in the Island’s public schools, and one in a pre-school that is overseen by the public school system.

Contact tracing is being done by public health nurses Lila Fisher and Lori Perry, as well as Island health agents. Islanders are encouraged to answer the phone and cooperate with contact tracers, public health officials said.  

The hospital tests symptomatic patients and their close contacts, as well as some high risk patients that get referred by their primary care physician. Asymptomatic testing occurs at the regional high school site, TestMV.

Statewide case numbers are also rising precariously, prompting tighter mask and gathering rules from Gov. Charlie Baker. The state’s seven-day average case number has now eclipsed 1,500 daily cases.

On Wednesday, the DPH announced its highest single-day case total since early May, with 2,495 new patients reported. More than 600 patients are now hospitalized with the virus. And the DPH also recorded 37 new deaths, bringing the statewide total to 9,994. 

The Centers for Disease Control has also reported that the United States recently broke the 10 million-case threshold, with more than 110,000 daily cases being reported on average over the past week — the highest numbers since the pandemic began.