New cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 are on the rise on Cape Cod.
As of Friday, June 19, there have been a total of 1,508 people who have tested positive for the disease since the outbreak began, including six new cases from the day before. A total of 136 people have died from the disease on the Cape, including one person since Thursday.
Between the Cape's two hospitals there are 18 people hospitalized with the illness and three of those patients are in intensive care. Over the past seven days there have been an average of 14.3 patients being treated in county hospitals. Over the previous seven days, the average number of COVID-10 patients in the hospitals was 10.7 patients.
The past seven days has also seen an average of 4.9 patients in intensive care in the region's hospitals compared to an average of 2.7 patients in those units during the previous seven days.
Governor Charles D. Baker Jr. announced at a news conference on Friday that the second part of the second phase of reopening will begin on Monday, June 22.
The second step allows for close contact personal care services (for example nail salons, tattoo parlors, and massage therapy), indoor restaurant dining, and personal training to resume with limitations. Those limitations include table spacing requirements in restaurants and limiting the number of people allowed in a training facility to one customer at a time, two if they are from the same household.
When asked if the third phase would still be able to begin on Monday, June 29, Gov. Baker said that he wants to see two weeks of data after opening up indoor dining before moving ahead with the third phase. This puts the first possible day for the third phase at Monday, July 6.
Gov. Baker cautioned that COVID-19 is going to continue to be seen in the state until there is a medical breakthrough that either prevents or cures the disease.
"Keep in mind that COVID doesn't take the summer off," he said. "We're reopening and containing COVID but it only works if everyone does their job."
The governor was asked if he had any concerns about the summer tourist season, especially on Cape Cod, when it comes to visitors coming to the region from states where COVID-19 cases are currently on the rise. He responded that he would be discussing that topic further some time next week.
Over the course of Wednesday, June 17, and Thursday, June 18, there were 52 new testing sites that opened throughout the state. Anyone who has recently been to a large gathering, such as a protest, was encouraged to go get tested for COVID-19. Gov. Baker said that while the tests are still being counted, there were nearly 16,000 people who used those sites over those two days.
The results from those test could be seen as early as next week.
Numbers in the state have been trending downward in the key metrics that the state needs in order to keep moving toward opening the economy. New positive cases being reported each day, newly reported deaths, and hospitalizations are all currently on a decline statewide.
Gov. Baker said that the average positive test rate in the state is down by 92 percent since the middle of April.
He also noted that no one knows for sure what will happen in the fall, but that people who are experts in infectious disease have indicated that pandemics typically have an echo that turns up during fall months.
There is a precedent for that line of thinking—the influenza pandemic of 1918 began somewhat mildly in the early months of the year, but its devastating effects were seen during its second wave beginning at the end of August 1918 and lasting through the winter of 1919.
In the event that the disease does have a second wave in the fall, the governor said that Massachusetts will be more prepared. When the pandemic hit in February and March, he said that there was a lack of everything—personal protective equipment, testing capacity, infection control, and protocols.
"We paid an enormous price as a state, and as a country, and as a globe for not being prepared," he said. "We're not going to be caught by surprise in the fall."