Weekly cases of Covid-19 on Martha’s Vineyard dropped to single digits for the first time in months on Monday, as a late-summer case surge continues to dissipate on the Island.

In a weekly case update that went out Monday, health agents reported eight new positive cases of Covid-19 between Sunday, Sept. 19 and Saturday, Sept. 25 — the lowest weekly total since mid-July.

The eight new cases also marked the fifth consecutive week that new positive cases of the virus had declined on the Island since spiking to 97 weekly cases in August, when health officials confirmed the spread of the highly-contagious Delta variant.

Cases reached their lowest levels since July this week. — Island Boards of Health

Of the eight new cases confirmed this week, one came from a patient who was fully vaccinated, four came among unvaccinated patients and three were unknown, according to health officials. Five of the cases were tested at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, two at TestMV and one at another provider.

All eight cases came among people under the age of 40, with one ten or younger, two between 11 and 20, two in their twenties and three in their thirties.

There have now been exactly 2,000 confirmed positive PCR tests on Martha’s Vineyard since the pandemic began last March, representing close to 10 per cent of the Island’s year-round population. Nearly 700, or approximately 35 per cent, have been linked to another case.

An Islandwide indoor mask mandate remains in effect.

Overall, 207, or 48 per cent of the 435 cases reported since July, have come among vaccinated residents. About 33 per cent, or 143 of the 435 cases, have come among unvaccinated residents.

As case counts wane and the off season arrives on Island, the Vineyard continues to steadily increase its vaccination rates. According to the most recent state Department of Public Health data, 98 per cent of the Island’s 2019 Donahue Institute population estimate of about 17,500 has received a first-dose vaccine, and 91 per cent is fully vaccinated.

The 2020 census showed Dukes County had 20,535 year-round residents.

Island vaccination numbers have ticked upward after plateauing earlier this summer. According to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, 14,485 people have received a first-dose vaccine and 14,529 people have received both shots since December of 2020.

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized third-dose shots for recipients of the Pfizer vaccine who are 65 and older and had received their second shot more than six months ago. The third shot authorization only applies to people who received the Pfizer vaccine.

A free mobile vaccine bus that parked at the regional high school Saturday and Sunday provided 359 total vaccine shots over the weekend, the vast majority for people 65-and-older receiving their third Pfizer dose. According to schools ELL coordinator Leah Palmer, the bus provided 15 first dose vaccine shots, four second dose shots and 340 third-dose shots. Johnson & Johnson vaccines accounted for 11 of the first-dose shots. 

Ms. Palmer said that the bus prioritized people receiving first or second-dose shots, but that the FDA's third-dose authorization Friday led to a serendipitous weekend that saw the bus provide a record quantity of vaccinations. The bus ran out of Pfizer vaccine supply both Saturday and Sunday. 

"The bus had never experienced numbers like this before," Ms. Palmer said. "It was great to be able to provide that to the community."

The bus is tentatively scheduled to return to the Island Oct. 16 and 17. 

A Martha’s Vineyard Hospital spokesman said Monday that the hospital was currently working on a plan to operationalize third-dose vaccines. Currently, the hospital has administered 158 third-dose shots to a select group of immunocompromised patients.

“MVH is preparing to administer Pfizer booster shots. We are identifying staff, securing supplies, and expect to begin giving them soon, no specific timetable yet,” spokesman Marissa Lefebvre wrote in an email to the Gazette.