All three down-Island towns are scheduled to hold a joint emergency board of health meeting Tuesday to discuss an indoor mask mandate, as Covid cases continue to double by the week in August.

In a Covid-19 case update that went out Monday afternoon, health agents reported 87 confirmed positive cases between Sunday, August 8 and Saturday, August 14, about twice as many reported last week, four times as many as reported the week prior, and nearly reaching the record weekly caseload on the Island.

“This is the third-most cases we have seen since the start of the pandemic,” Tisbury health agent Maura Valley said in an interview Monday.

An additional five positive over-the-counter tests were also reported, according to the update.

There are currently two patients hospitalized with the virus, according to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital chief nurse and head of operations Claire Seguin.

Cases have risen exponentially in recent weeks. — Island Boards of Health

In an email, Ms. Seguin said the patients were admitted on Saturday, August 14 and Sunday, August 15. Both patients are in fair condition, Ms. Seguin said.

The hospital previously had two patients who were admitted earlier last week, one in fair condition and one in serious condition. Ms. Seguin did not immediately specify whether those patients had been discharged.

Following on the heels of West Tisbury, the three down-Island towns have scheduled a board of health meeting for 11 a.m. Tuesday to “discuss Covid-19 and indoor mask orders.”

The Chilmark board of health is due to take up the indoor mask mandate question at a meeting Wednesday.

Boards of health have the broad power to institute mask mandates, which were put in place during the summer of 2020 and later rescinded in accordance with Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening plan this spring.

But as cases have climbed precipitously this summer with the Delta variant present on-Island, the Vineyard health agents issued an Islandwide mask advisory for indoor public spaces earlier in August.

Although they initially stopped short of a mandate, Tisbury health agent Maura Valley said the down-Island health agents were now poised to adopt more stringent regulations at Tuesday’s meeting, with cases continuing to climb.

West Tisbury adopted a similar mandate late last week.

The mandate would require masks wearing at all indoor spaces open to the public, including private businesses, Ms. Valley said.

“The numbers we have been seeing are so concerning,” Ms. Valley said.

According to the case update, 42 of the new positive tests are among fully vaccinated people, 20 among unvaccinated people and 25 are unknown. Overall, 48 per cent, or 91 of the 189 cases since the beginning of July, have come among fully vaccinated residents.

While unvaccinated patients tend to make up the vast majority of positive tests across the country, the numbers appear to be trending slightly differently on the Vineyard.

“It is surprising how many cases are among vaccinated people,” Ms. Valley said.

A large portion of the cases are also symptomatic, according to the report. Of the recent 87 cases, 43 are symptomatic, five asymptomatic, and 39 unknown. Since July, 67 per cent, or 127 cases, have been symptomatic.

Ms. Valley said that she did not have a comprehensive perspective on the severity of symptoms among people testing positive, but said that it is still common for people, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, to lose their sense of taste and smell.

“It’s mainly cold and flu-like symptoms,” Ms. Valley added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, all three vaccines are effective at significantly reducing the severity of illness from the virus.

While a large portion of cases reported last week were work-related, closing down at least four restaurants in Edgartown and passing between staff at multiple businesses, Ms. Valley said spread has since become more ubiquitous.

“It seems to be happening everywhere,” Ms. Valley said.

The Ritz in Oak Bluffs closed last weekend after a staff member tested positive for the virus.

The majority of recent cases have come among people under the age of 40, with 30 per cent among people in their 20s and 22 per cent among people in their 30s. Only about 19 per cent of overall cases have come among people in their twenties.

Ms. Valley said it was crucial that people who test positive through an over-the-counter test call their health departments to follow up about contact tracing and quarantine protocols. She added that they should also follow-up with a PCR test.

Statewide, the Department of Public Health reported more than 1,182 positive Covid tests on Sunday, with the seven-day case average sitting at around 1,000 — the highest since early May.

There have now been more than 686,000 positive Covid-19 tests reported in the state, and 17,772 deaths.