Vineyard Covid-19 case counts have neared their highest levels since the pandemic began, with new clusters identified at businesses across the Island as the Delta variant continues its spread.

In a weekly case update, the Island boards of health reported 97 new cases of Covid-19 between Sunday, August 15 and Saturday, August 21 — the third most since the pandemic began but only four fewer than the weekly peak in early April.

Of those cases, 44 are symptomatic, six are asymptomatic and 47 are unknown.

Case counts have neared their 2021 weekly high. — Island Boards of Health

About half the cases continue to come among vaccinated people as breakthrough cases, according to the report, with 41 among people who were fully vaccinated, two among people who were partially vaccinated, 28 among people who are unvaccinated, and 26 unknown.

Overall, 48 per cent of cases in July and August have been among fully vaccinated people. According to state DPH data, approximately 88 per cent of the Island’s year-round population total is fully vaccinated, accounting for about 17,000 people.

The upward creeping case counts have come to a fever pitch during the busiest month of the year on the Island, closing businesses and disrupting summer events as a pandemic that began more than 18 months ago continues to have wide-ranging impacts across the Vineyard.

According to the report, three new case clusters were identified among Island businesses, with four employees at the Charlotte Inn in Edgartown testing positive for the virus, four at the Fine Fettle marijuana dispensary in West Tisbury and three among staff at Fishbones restaurant in Oak Bluffs.

Speaking to the Gazette by phone, owner of the Charlotte Inn Gerry Conover said the cases were among staff at The Terrace restaurant, which is normally closed on Monday. The inn currently remains open, and the restaurant plans to reopen Tuesday after staff are cleared for work.

“Nobody [at the inn] has Covid,” Mr. Conover said.

Fishbones restaurant remains open, owner Michael Santoro told the Gazette. Mr. Santoro said in a text message that he instituted a mandatory mask rule for staff two weeks ago.

“I believe this has helped me to date keep all my businesses open,” Mr. Santoro said.

Businesses are not required to close if staff test positive for Covid, although staff who test positive and their close contacts are required to comply with quarantine rules that have been in place throughout the pandemic.

August has inched close to April and January as the months with the highest case counts on the Island, with 232 cases reported over the first three weeks of the month. Over the past three weeks, at least six restaurants have closed due to Covid-19 cases among staff.

The vast majority of cases continue to come from tests at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, with 69 positive tests coming from hospital PCR testing, 24 from TestMV — the Island’s asymptomatic testing site — and four from other providers.

According to the report, the state epidemiology lab has sequenced two additional positive Covid-19 test samples for the Delta variant on the Island. The state has now tested nine patients for the more contagious virus strain, with six coming back positive and three indeterminate.

A disproportionate percentage of cases continue to impact the Island’s young population, with 26 of the recent 97 cases, or 27 per cent, among people in their twenties. Overall, only 19 per cent of the Island’s 1,793 total cases have been among people in their twenties.

But recent cases have also spanned the age gamut, with 18 among people in their thirties, 15 among people in their forties, 12 among people in their fifties, 11 among people in their sixties and eight over the age of 70 testing positive last week.

Two patients remain hospitalized with the virus, according to the most recent Martha’s Vineyard Hospital website update. Hospital officials did not immediately provide information on patient conditions, or an update on a Covid-positive patient who was critically airlifted to Boston last week.

In a follow-up email, hospital spokesman Marissa Lefebvre said that the hospital has had two Covid-related transfers over the past week, both in fair condition. She could not provide an update on the prior critical transfer. 

Statewide, case counts continue to climb as well, with 1,459 new positive tests reported Sunday and a rising seven-day case average.