As the busiest summer on record draws to a close, officials across the Island are grappling with how to deal with a new wave of Covid-19 cases that shows no sign of letting up.

A vaccination requirement for town employees is under consideration in Chilmark and Tisbury, after West Tisbury voted last week to require its workers to be vaccinated by Sept. 30.

Martha’s Vineyard public school officials reaffirmed their plan to require students, faculty and staff to wear masks when schools open in two weeks, following a mandate issued Wednesday by state education commissioner Jeffrey Riley for all commonwealth schools.

And officials in Tisbury voted Tuesday to postpone the town’s 350th anniversary celebration, originally scheduled for Sept. 19, citing concerns it could become a superspreader event.

“We’re three and a half weeks out, our [case] numbers are really high and they don’t seem to be going down,” Tisbury health agent Maura Valley told a joint meeting of the select board and the board of health.

In its weekly case update Monday, 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. Another 39 cases have been confirmed as of Wednesday.

Of the 97 cases, 44 were reported to be symptomatic, six asymptomatic and 47 unknown.

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.

Masks are back in fashion. — Ray Ewing

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.

Monday’s weekly case update identified three new case clusters 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. The inn remains open, and the restaurant planned to reopen Tuesday after staff were cleared for work.

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

Fishbones restaurant remains open. Owner Michael Santoro told the Gazette 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 271 cases reported through Wednesday. 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.

Numerous Island businesses have had to deal with case clusters. — Ray Ewing

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 remained hospitalized with the virus Wednesday, according to the most recent Martha’s Vineyard Hospital website update.

Hospital spokesman Marissa Lefebvre confirmed on Monday that there had two Covid-related transfers over the prior week, both in fair condition. She could not provide an update on a third patient who was critically airlifted to Boston the week before.

Vineyard school leaders said Wednesday a new state mandate requiring face coverings to be worn in public schools at least until Oct. 1 falls in line with what was already planned on the Island.

At recent meetings Island school committees approved an amendment allowing masks to be removed outdoors.

Exceptions will be allowed for those who cannot wear a mask due to behavioral or medical reasons. Face coverings are recommended but not required for students under the age of five.

“I’m glad the state made the decision to safely keep students in school as much as possible,” regional high school principal Sara Dingledy said in a brief phone call with the Gazette. “I’m glad we made that decision a while back. It made planning for reopening easier.”

Vineyard schools superintendent Matt D’Andrea told the Gazette the state’s Oct. 1 date provides a helpful benchmark.

He added that school administrators will continue to meet on a weekly basis with their health and safety committee.

“We will listen to what they have to say,” Mr. D’Andrea said.

Wrestling with how best to deal with the ongoing pandemic, several Island towns have opted to hold joint meetings of their select board and board of health. At two such meetings, in Tisbury and Chilmark, officials raised the possibility of requiring town workers to be vaccinated, but took no immediate action. Chilmark officials also discussed reinstituting an outdoor mask mandate in Menemsha, where crowds gather to watch the sunset.

Board of health member Matt Pooole who is also the Edgartown health agent, spoke about the limitations of an outdoor mask mandate.

“I don’t think we could even contemplate enforcing it,” he said. “I think it’s an appropriate gesture, but to take it beyond a gesture is going to be really difficult.”

Kate Dario and Louisa Hufstader contributed reporting.