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Martha's Vineyard records COVID spike after Obama's birthday party, but officials caution connection — at least for now

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Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Martha's Vineyard is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases one week removed from former President Barack Obama's extravagant 60th birthday bash, which took place on the island last Saturday.

But health officials on the island are urging caution in making a connection between the party and spike — at least for now.

What are the details?

According to the Daily Mail, at least 74 people have tested positive for COVID-19 on Martha's Vineyard since Obama's birthday party. The figure is the largest weekly total of cases on the island since April.

Prior to Friday's report from the Daily Mail, health officials had reported 54 new COVID-19 cases, the Vineyard Gazette reported.

The New York Times' COVID-19 dashboard reported that cases in Dukes County, where Martha's Vineyard is located, "increased recently and are extremely high." In fact, the dashboard reports that cases have increased 1,350% over the past two weeks, the majority of which happened over the last week.

Obama's birthday bash, which took place at his sprawling Martha's Vineyard estate, featured celebrity guests — most of whom were maskless — that traveled to the small island from all over the country.

What did health officials say?

Janet Hathaway, assistant to the Edgartown Board of Health, told the Boston Herald "it's too early to tell" whether the spike is connected to Obama's party and the mass of celebrities that traveled to the island for the extravaganza.

"We've seen an uptick of the virus since the first week in August," Hathaway explained. "There's also been a huge run on over-the-counter [COVID] tests."

Martha's Vineyard Hospital spokeswoman Marissa Lefebvre told the Herald the island's hospital also has experienced a surge in people coming to them for COVID-19 tests, but agreed it remains too early to determine the cause of the spike.

Whether the COVID surge is related to Obama's party will likely be determined next week after health officials pour over data from the spike in cases this week.

Meanwhile, Maura Valley, a health agent in the town of Tisbury, dismissed a connection between the spike and Obama's party before acknowledging contract-tracing remains unfinished.

"At this time we're not aware of any cases connected to the Obama party," Valley told the Daily Mail. "It's a little too early and the only way we're going to know is through comprehensive contact tracing."

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