The first cases of COVID-19 among Upper Cape students for the current school year were confirmed this week in Sandwich.
A student at the Oak Ridge School in East Sandwich and a student at Sandwich High School tested positive for the disease on Monday, October 5, and Tuesday, October 6.
Neither student contracted the illness from within the school, Sandwich Public Schools Superintendent Pamela A. Gould said, and the cases did not necessitate closing the schools.
The district is the fourth on Cape Cod to announce that students have tested positive, with cases reported at Monomoy Regional High School in Harwich, Cape Cod Academy in Osterville and at Barnstable United Elementary School and Enoch Cobb Early Learning Center in Barnstable.
Increased Risk Levels
Several towns on Cape Cod—including two on the Upper Cape—have moved up a risk level when it comes to COVID-19, based on data released by the state on Wednesday, October 7.
Sandwich and Bourne have both been highlighted as “yellow” on the color-coded state map, meaning the average daily rate of COVID-19 in those towns is between four and eight for every 100,000 residents. The rate in Bourne is at a daily rate of 7.5, with 22 active cases; Sandwich is at a rate of 5.4, with 16 active cases.
A “red” town is defined as one with an average daily rate of eight or more cases per 100,000 people.
Falmouth remains in a “green” designation, with a daily rate of 3.4 and 15 active cases. Mashpee is “gray,” with a daily rate of 1.9 and fewer than five active cases.
Harwich and Barnstable have also been moved to a yellow designation.
No Community Spread
While cases in the area and across the state are on the rise, local officials maintain that community spread is still not happening on Cape Cod at this time.
“It seems right now that these are still isolated cases,” said Sean O’Brien, director of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment. “There is no indication of community spread.”
He said the county is in the monitoring phase right now and is keeping an eye on what is happening across the state, as well as in neighboring towns such as Plymouth that have been recently upgraded to “red” status.
During a news conference Thursday, October 8, Mr. O’Brien noted that cases of the disease are on the rise across the state, with the number of new daily cases peaking at more than 700 in the past week.
A data point he said he is continuing to monitor is hospitalizations statewide. The number of people hospitalized in the state had been hovering in the 300 range for months but has begun to climb, he said.
“It’s really important to keep in mind,” he said. “Our hospitalization rates are not high, but it’s important when we’re looking at all of this. We want to make sure we’re constantly keeping an eye on state numbers and neighboring communities as well.”
COVID-19 By The Numbers
Across the Cape, a total of 1,849 cases have been confirmed since the start of the pandemic. The Barnstable County Department of Human Services has identified at least 195 additional probable cases of the disease.
A total of 175 people have died in the region.
Even though hospitalizations in the state are up, on Cape Cod they are down by half over last week, with three COVID-19 patients being treated at Cape Cod Hospital and none being treated at Falmouth Hospital. No one is being treated in intensive care at this time.
Statewide, the average age of a person who has become infected over the past two weeks has decreased to 36. The majority of cases over the same time period have been those in their 20s, and 22 percent of all cases in the past two weeks have been in pediatric patients.
The average age of someone who has died from the disease in the state is 79.
The state reported the first pediatric death from the disease in Wednesday’s report, though details about the age, sex and hometown of the patient were not immediately available.
Update From Governor Baker
Governor Charles D. Baker Jr. held a news conference on Tuesday in which he talked about why he decided not to ban trick-or-treating.
“That would have turned into thousands of indoor Halloween parties, which would have been a lot worse than outdoor and supervised trick-or-treating,” he said. “There are very simple things people can do to manage their kids and themselves outdoors.”
When asked about the increasing cases in the state, Gov. Baker said it had always been anticipated that cases would rise in the fall. However, he said, increasing the number of tests being done each day has helped to prevent significant spread in the state.
The state administers between 65,000 and 80,000 tests daily. The governor said about a third of residents in the state have been tested for COVID-19.