Martha’s Vineyard boards of health will take up the question of whether to continue the mandatory Islandwide indoor mask mandate this week, as regional and national guidance shifts toward a looser approach to face coverings in public.

The six boards of health have posted a meeting for noon on Wednesday. The meeting will be held over Zoom.

Indoor mask mandates returned to all six Island towns in mid-August, after a brief reprieve last summer. But with case counts steadily low in recent weeks and a changing picture both on and off-Island, public health officials health are now set to revisit the mandate.

Speaking to the Gazette by phone Monday, Edgartown health agent Matt Poole, who is also a member of the Chilmark board of health, said it is likely that the mandate will eventually be lifted. Whether that comes as soon as Wednesday remains a question.

“We’re definitely headed toward no masks,” said Mr. Poole. “The timeline is a wild card.”

Vineyard public schools took the first steps to loosen mask requirements over the past two weeks, with school committees voting to suspend the mandates. But the final decision rests with the boards of health.

“I think the schools’ decision to fall back on local health is appropriate,” Mr. Poole said.

He also said it’s easy to forget how much progress has been made during the pandemic, including the introduction of vaccines.

“Two years ago a case of Covid-19 was a huge deal for anyone who learned they had it,” Mr. Poole said. “We’re recognizing the severity of the illness is not what it used to be.”

But a spike in cases early this year fueled by the Omicron variant brought the Vineyard’s highest weekly case totals to date and the first Covid-related death on the Island. At more than one point, the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital was treating several Covid patients at once.

Since the spike, steep declines in case totals have led to a leveling off of the virus in the past two weeks. In their regular report Monday, the boards of health said zero cases had been recorded on the Vineyard for two straight days.

Mr. Poole said he believes the direction the Vineyard is headed in is reassuring.

“I think we can be more optimistic than we’ve been in recent years,” he said.

Still, he said the pandemic may be long from over, and the conversation surrounding Covid may completely change in the coming months.

“I think we’ve underestimated the progress, but we’re not out of the weeds yet,” Mr. Poole said.

He added that Islanders need to remain vigilant, and he noted that risk assessment changes on a person-to-person basis.

“I think people really need to be thoughtful about the decisions they make,” Mr. Poole said, adding:

“We’ve absolutely come a long way.”