It never really left. We did see a hopeful and significant reduction in March 2022. But that is not the case now.
Returning snow-birders, part-time residents, seasonal workers, vacationers, and day-trippers are now arriving on the Cape, greeted by a lurking COVID presence. Despite our desire for a mask-free, COVID-free summer, according to the CDC, Barnstable County currently has a high rate of infection as of June 3, 2022, though numbers are inching down slightly from May. (Please note the opening page says “medium risk” but for accurate figures hit the Click to View Charts tab, down the page).
Notwithstanding a predicted landmark 2022 tourist season and CDC’s daunting report, no town in Barnstable County has yet required masking or any other mitigations.
CDC urges that persons living in HIGH level risk communities should:
- Wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk.
- Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines
- Get tested if you have symptoms
- Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness
- Since a surge in early May, Barnstable County cases and hospitalizations have declined slightly, mirroring a recent national decrease in cases.
- The two week positivity rate through May 29 showed a slight increase from 8.8% to 10.6% for the May 15-29 reporting period.
- As of May 29, there had been a cumulative number of 39,262 cases in Barnstable County and 595 deaths.
- Antiviral drugs such as Paxlovid and Remdesivir and monoclonal antibody treatments are helping to keeping infected people out of the hospital.
- Omicron splits into variants and sub-variants with BA.4 and BA.5 now causing havoc in South Africa, influencing modelers to forecast U.S. COVID increases in coming months.
The perils of long COVID
- One in five survivors of COVID has experienced one or more health conditions that can be classified as “long COVID” and can affect many organ systems, some seriously.
- A new CDC study of >2 million COVID survivors indicated that respiratory symptoms and lung problems, often lasting many months, were the most prevalent conditions of long COVID.
- Even mild cases can be a prelude to long COVID.
Free Testing | Other Testing
Barnstable County continues to offer free PCR testing at the Orleans DPW on Tuesdays, from 9 AM to 10:00 AM. Walk-ins must arrive prior to 9:30am. It may be possible to make arrangements to be tested at Outer Cape Health Services in Provincetown and/or Wellfleet and and at local pharmacies for a fee.
- Be vaccinated to be guarded against infections and hospitalizations from the currently-circulating COVID variants.
- Wear a mask indoors in public. Everyone wants to be free of masks, and many are not wearing them. This is more reason to make sure you protect yourself. You can do that best.
- Be cautious about over-optimism. Notably, last July’s Provincetown cluster of nearly 1,000 cases brought about by (1) unmasked throngs populating indoor venues; (2) dynamic mixes of individuals from diverse locations; (3) some fully-vaccinated persons with break-through infections; and (4) overconfidence that the worst of the pandemic was over.
- Be personally risk averse (essential).
- Be smart to be safe.
Ron Fichtner, TPRTA Board Member + former CDC Epidemiologist
Note: In order to help communities develop what prevention steps to take, CDC assesses each county in the U.S. as low, medium, or high as determined by an algorithm that incorporates the numbers of hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and new COVID cases in the county.