With the number of hospitalizations on Cape Cod rising, Cape Cod Healthcare has updated its visitation policy.
As of Wednesday, September 30, only one visitor per day will be allowed to visit with inpatients. Each visitor will be screened for respiratory symptoms before being allowed in, and each one must wear a mask that has been approved by the hospital while in the buildings.
No visitors under the age of 18 will be allowed, and the visitation hours are from 2 PM to 7 PM.
Individual wards, such as maternity and intensive care, might have different guidelines, and exceptions might be made for end-of-life visits.
Vaira Harik, deputy director of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Human Services, said the county has gone from a three-day average of zero hospitalizations to a three-day average of eight hospitalizations during a news conference Thursday, October 1.
“It’s a discernable increase and one we are certainly charting,” she said.
As of yesterday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported five COVID-19 patients are being treated at Cape Cod Hospital and three are being treated at Falmouth Hospital. Each hospital has one COVID-19 patient in intensive care.
During the same conference, Senator Julian A. Cyr (D-Truro) said there are reports that most new cases are asymptomatic people and there is still no evidence of community spread.
COVID-19 will not prevent children from trick-or-treating this Halloween, and the state has issued a set of guidelines to ensure a safe holiday.
The guidelines mirror the ones currently in place: Wear a mask, maintain social distancing and carry hand sanitizer to keep little (and big) hands clean on the go.
People are also advised not to touch their faces and to refrain from going out or handing out treats if they do not feel well, have tested positive for COVID-19, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or have recently traveled to a state that is not considered to be low-risk.
Halloween activities are subject to gathering limits. On Cape Cod, those limits are 25 people for indoor gatherings and 100 people for outdoor gatherings.
COVID-19 In Schools
Two schools on Cape Cod have identified cases of COVID-19 in their buildings as the first weeks of in-person learning come to a close.
The first school to report a case was Monomoy High School in Harwich, five days after it reopened. As a result of the case, six classrooms of teachers and students were required to enter quarantine due to being in close contact with the student who tested positive.
On Wednesday, Cape Cod Academy headmaster Jeffrey Thompson emailed the school community to say at least three students have tested positive for the disease. All three students are in the 4th grade.
The weekend before, one of the student’s parents had tested positive for the illness.
As a result, the 4th grade students and their siblings will be learning remotely until Tuesday, October 13.
Lower-risk communities in Massachusetts, including all towns on Cape Cod, will be able to move to the next step in the pandemic reopening plan starting next week.
Governor Charles D. Baker Jr. announced Tuesday, September 28, that communities that have not been designated as high-risk in any of the past three weekly health reports will be able to reopen a few more economic sectors starting Monday, October 5.
No towns on Cape Cod have been labeled as being high-risk within the past three weeks. This next step has been dubbed phase three, step two.
Among the industries the announcement affects are indoor and outdoor performance venues and recreation businesses.
Under the state guidance, indoor and outdoor performance venues will be able to open at 50 percent capacity, with no more than 250 people at any time. Performers are not included in the capacity count.
Recreational activities such as laser tag, trampolines, roller rinks and obstacle courses will also be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity.
The capacity limits for gyms, museums and libraries will increase to 50 percent. Fitting rooms will be allowed to open up in all stores.
Additionally, the restrictions on gatherings have been updated. The number of people allowed at an outdoor gathering will be increased to 100, although it will remain at 50 for the high-risk towns. Indoor gatherings are still limited to 25 people.
Stadiums and arenas are not included in the governor’s announcement and will remain closed to the public at this time.
To enter this step, a community will have to stay out of the high-risk category for three consecutive weeks. If the community becomes high-risk for three weeks, it will be required to roll its opening back.
Numbers on Cape Cod
The Barnstable County Department of Human Services reports a total of 1,998 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 across Cape Cod as of yesterday.
Of those cases, 1,799 have been confirmed according to the Department of Public Health.
No new COVID-19 deaths, confirmed or probable, have been reported in the county since Wednesday of last week, September 23.
Throughout the Upper Cape, 27 new cases have been reported since last week.
As of Wednesday, Bourne has had a total of 187 cases, with seven reported in the past week. Falmouth also had seven new cases reported this week for a total of 272 cases, while Mashpee has had three cases confirmed since last week and has had a total of 86 cases. Sandwich has had an increase of 10 cases over last week for a total of 119 cases.
Sandwich Health Agent David Mason and Fire Chief John J. Burke said the increase in town is not due to the schools reopening and that there is no evidence of community spread. The people who have recently tested positive are asymptomatic healthcare workers who are in their 50s and college students who have been tested while away at school and have Sandwich listed as their primary address.
Mr. Mason said that heading into the fall it remains important to follow the guidelines surrounding social distancing and masking, even if news of the virus is not as prevalent.