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COVID-19 Outbreak Hits Mid-Cape; Highest Rates in Barnstable, Yarmouth

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A spike in COVID-19 cases on the Mid-Cape has reached “outbreak” status, according to officials on the Cape’s COVID-19 task force.

The epicenter is in Barnstable, which had an average of 65 new cases a day per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, according to a state map released Thursday.

The map shows Cape Cod towns in shades of blue and gray. Barnstable is shaded a deep blue, with the highest case rate. Next is Yarmouth, shaded medium blue, with an average of 39 new cases a day in the last two weeks, per 100,000 people.

Towns radiating out to the east and west — Mashpee, Sandwich, Dennis, and Harwich — are shaded in a lighter blue and have a rate of 25-30 new cases each day per 100,000.

Officials are urging the public to avoid risk of infection, especially in light of variants of the COVID-19 virus that could be more transmissible.

State Senator Julian Cyr called the outbreak extremely concerning.

“It's very incumbent for all of us on Cape Cod to get this outbreak under control, and fast,” he said. “We are asking residents to assume that these variants are here in our community.”

He said the region is relying on residents to be careful to keep cases low — for their own health, and also to protect the summer tourist economy.

Young people seem to be driving the trend. Nearly a quarter of the new cases in the last two weeks are in patients 19 and under. And the younger the age group, the more new COVID-19 cases they have.

A year ago, kids and teens had the fewest cases of any age group.

Public health officials are worried that young people will gather over spring break — even if they don’t travel — and spread the virus even more.

Officials said contact tracing has not identified any particular source of the Mid-Cape outbreak.

Cyr asked the public to avoid large gatherings and indoor gatherings, and to follow CDC guidelines on double-masking and other precautions.