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Cape Cod's first omicron wave may have peaked in early January

A sign for COVID-19 testing at Falmouth Hospital.
Liz Lerner
A sign for COVID-19 testing at Falmouth Hospital.

Cape Cod’s first wave of the omicron variant of COVID-19 may have peaked in early January, officials say. But infections remain much higher than the previous COVID-19 peak last winter.

Statewide, the seven-day average of new cases fell to about 9,400 this week, compared to 23,000 on Jan. 8, according to data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Barnstable County health director Sean O’Brien said he hopes that’s the start of a longer trend.

“I think we may be starting to move down that back side of the mountain,” he said. “We just need a few more days of data to really start to see what may be happening here.”

State Sen. Julian Cyr said new cases on the Cape appear to have peaked between Jan. 3 and 11.

Officials say a decline in cases does not mean it’s time to reduce COVID-19 protections. Wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings are still important, O’Brien said.

Hospital admissions are high enough that Cape Cod Healthcare canceled inpatient elective surgeries for today and Monday after resuming them earlier this week.

The number of patients entering intensive care will probably peak next week, according to Dr. William Agel, chief medical officer at Cape Cod Healthcare.

The omicron variant is responsible for nearly all new cases, he said.

Cape Cod Healthcare announced this week it will offer two outpatient antiviral treatments for COVID-19. One is remdesivir, which the health system has been using on an inpatient basis for more than a year, Agel said.

“Recent studies indicate that if we can get to people early in the course of the disease — less than seven days — we can decrease the likelihood of progressing to severe disease by as much as 90 percent,” he said.

Cape Cod Healthcare will also offer the drug Paxlovid, which Agel says inhibits the virus’ ability to reproduce.

This week, the hospitals also increased their capacity to do monoclonal antibody therapy, which is delivered intravenously, from six patients a day to almost 20.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.