As of Monday, April 13, there were 84 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bourne. The Board of Health released the number in a press release Tuesday, April 14.
This was the first time the town released case numbers since the pandemic began.
Town Administrator Anthony E. Schiavi said at last week’s board of selectmen meeting that he felt that disclosing the numbers was a health issue, not an administrative one. He also suggested that releasing the number may either cause undue panic or result in residents not taking the matter seriously enough, depending on how the numbers were interpreted.
At 84 cases of the disease, the town has one of the highest numbers of positive tests on the Cape. Falmouth has reported 100 positive cases and Barnstable has reported 93.
The news release came after a week of criticism from community members upset by the lack of hard numbers from the town.
According to the release, the board of health was expecting the number of positives to peak this week and that there will likely be an increase in community spread during this time.
Bourne residents were urged to take precautions to keep themselves and others safe and healthy. Those precautions include staying home, practicing social distancing, and using face coverings when out in public.
“Only leave home for essential errands such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy,” the release says. “You can still go outside and get fresh air, but do not participate in close contact activities.”
Parents were urged to not schedule play dates at this time.
The Massachusetts Virtual Epidemiologic Network is an electronic disease surveillance system that has been providing each town with information about the virus as it has been spreading. The data allow towns to plan their response to the disease.
The data provided to Bourne show the number of cases started to increase at a greater rate around the end of March.
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Bourne was announced on March 19, when elderly resident in the Cape Cod Senior Residences tested. Since then the town has indicated that more people have tested positive, although exact numbers had not been released until now.
Mr. Schiavi does post regular updates on the town’s website in regard to what is being done to reduce the spread of the disease. That information includes updates about how public meetings are now being held remotely, which public facilities are closed, and any new guidance provided by Governor Charles D. Baker Jr.