State Senator Julian Cyr says COVID-19 is now spreading in the community on Cape Cod, not just in isolated situations.
“We are no longer in a position to say that we are not seeing evidence of community spread at this time, particularly on the Mid Cape,” Cyr said.
New daily cases in Barnstable County have exceeded 20 three times in the last two weeks. This follows a statewide trend of elevated levels not seen since May.
Cyr says as Thanksgiving approaches, people should understand that indoor, maskless gatherings increase the risk of spreading the virus.
Vaira Harik, deputy director of the Department of Human Services, says she wants to get the message out in very direct terms.
“I'll be a bit more blunt regarding recommendations for Thanksgiving. And this basically is in line with [what] the governor announced earlier this week — that people really should only be socializing and over meals and other related activities with the group of people with whom you live,” Harik said.
To help local restaurants survive this unusual season, the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce is compiling a list of restaurants that will offer Thanksgiving dinner to take home.
In addition to the warning about Thanksgiving gatherings, Senator Cyr deemed Cape Cod a COVID-19 testing “desert.” He’s calling on Governor Baker to release funding the Legislature approved back in July.
Cyr says most testing sites on the Cape have one or more barriers that keep people away. Those include out-of-pocket cost, difficulty getting to the site, and the wait time. Some only test people with symptoms.
Cyr says the Cape delegation secured $550,000 for testing in a supplemental budget bill, but Baker has yet to release it.
“I believe this is unacceptable. And my patience, frankly, is wearing thin on the delays of this money to Cape Cod,” Cyr said.
Once the money is released, the Barnstable County health department plans to expand asymptomatic testing, possibly by opening its own sites.
Cyr says free, no-questions-asked testing is the ideal, but the money isn’t enough to cover that.
Exactly what it would take to be eligible for the new test sites is under discussion at the county.