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COVID-19 Cases Dropping on Cape and Islands

Calling it a bit of good news amid the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, a Barnstable County official said Thursday that the post-holiday increase in cases is dropping off.

“It seems very clear that we are on the other side of the holiday surge,” said Vaira Harik, the county’s deputy director of human services, who tracks COVID-19 data.

Local cases and fatalities peaked in early January, when new coronavirus cases over a three-day period reached 481, and deaths over a three-day period reached 16.

Harik said hospitalizations have also dropped, but the number of people in intensive care units remains high. It was 19 on Cape Cod at the county’s last report.

In the state’s update of its colored-coded tracking system on Thursday, fewer Cape Cod towns were marked in red, the color that indicates a high average daily incidence rate of COVID-19. (The exact rate that qualifies a community for “red” status varies by population and test positivity rate.)

Local communities with a 14-day average of daily new cases above 70 per 100,000 people include Acushnet, Fall River, New Bedford, Orleans, and Rochester.

Nantucket’s rate has dropped substantially, to 59.4 this week from 140.8 in mid-January.

Right now, the lowest case rates in the region are on the Outer Cape and parts of Martha’s Vineyard. 

Cape Cod officials continue to push for a mass vaccination site, and the Barnstable County Board of Regional Commissioners passed a resolution asking the state to open one.

But this week, Sen. Julian Cyr said the Cape is well positioned to distribute the vaccine on its own — provided it gets the doses.

“We are used to having to help ourselves in the hinterlands,” he said. “And I know my colleagues in Berkshire County and out west know that as well.”

The Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment is receiving 975 doses a week — the number of doses in a package of Pfizer vaccines. Additional doses are going to hospitals and pharmacies.

The county hosted vaccination clinics this week at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds and Cape Cod Melody Tent, and is considering additional locations in Truro, Eastham, and Orleans.

 

Barnstable County also established an email notification list advertised to provide 24 hours notice before any new county-sponsored clinics are posted online. As of early Friday afternoon, no additional clinics had been posted at maimmunizations.org.

On the Islands, the hospitals are running the clinics, and on the South Coast, the town of Dartmouth will host a clinic on Saturday.