The Island is hunkered down right now, with most people sheltering in place. This is our most vital social compact, to help stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Epidemiologists are now projecting that the virus will peak around the middle of the month. A statewide stay-at-home advisory has been extended to early May. How long the crisis will last remains a question mark.

With nine confirmed cases so far on the Vineyard, public health officials on Martha’s Vineyard are urging Islanders to remain isolated and vigilant. A surge of cases is still predicted here, as it is statewide.

“Do not be fooled by the numbers,” hospital president and chief executive officer Denise Schepici told a live-streamed town hall event hosted by the hospital last week.

Meanwhile, Islanders are adjusting to their new way of life, working, meeting, socializing, exercising and teaching on zoom and other forms of video chat online. People who still have jobs work from home. Many others — there is no hard number yet — have lost their jobs, part of widespread layoffs as restaurants and businesses shutter. National unemployment numbers released Thursday tell the story in staggering terms — more than six million people filed for unemployment this week alone.

In truth the toll on the economy here will not be known for many weeks, or months ahead.

Meanwhile, we shelter in place.

On the Vineyard there are many workers in the front lines of the pandemic, including hospital doctors, nurses and technicians, police, EMTs and firefighters, and all the many people who are performing essential services from bagging groceries to pumping gas. Despite the best safety protocols, they are putting their own health and lives at risk, and we owe them a deep debt of gratitude.

Once a pleasurable, social experience, a trip to the grocery store these days is a hold-the-breath exercise in stress control, especially for the significant number of Islanders who are over 65 and at higher risk for contracting illness.

Around the Island a wartime-like effort with has sprung up, with hundreds of volunteers pitching in to help with the many community needs, including feeding people who are hungry or elderly and alone. Island seamstresses and fashion designers are spearheading a project to sew protective face masks, which are in short supply.

An emergency fund set up by the Permanent Endowment of Martha’s Vineyard has already begun doling out grants to small nonprofits who need relief. Donations are flowing in; more are needed.

The Martha’s Vineyard Bank has just announced a plan to add $625,000 to community relief efforts.

Outdoors, the natural world is somehow unaltered by the pandemic, cheering us on unconditionally with its steady presence like the old friend who called the other day.

Sunny daffodils are making a brave stand in the raw, chilly air as March turns to April. Forsythia — so beautiful and ubiquitous on Martha’s Vineyard, where it can be found in wild tangles and tamed hedges — is just coming into bloom.

Lilacs are in bud, streams and herring runs are full and rushing. Next up: snowy shadbush, fragrant narcissus and trailing arbutus, the state flower of Massachusetts that still blooms in profusion here.

At the old farmhouse there’s fresh laundry on the line, stirring memories of another life when children were little and the line was hung with cloth diapers. The Vineyard was much quieter then, with fewer ferries in winter, and people subsisting on the land and the sea, living on small farms and homesteads.

The Island feels a little like that other place these days.

Sending out warmest wishes to all Gazette readers near and far. Stay safe and healthy. And for now, please stay isolated.

It’s our social compact.