The daily increase of COVID-19 cases on Cape Cod has remained in the single digits for much of the past two weeks, but local officials said it is not yet time to celebrate.
During a news conference on Thursday, October 22, state Senator Julian A. Cyr (D-Truro) said the county has not seen a double-digit increase since October 11. He said there is still no evidence of community spread at this time and that health officials believe most of the new cases remain the result of routine testing among healthcare workers and within congregate care facilities.
“We’re certainly not doing a victory lap,” he said. “But it is an ongoing sigh of relief.”
Sen. Cyr said experts believe the next six to eight weeks will be a challenging stretch, especially since the colder weather means that more people may be gathering indoors and that some people have become complacent when it comes to the coronavirus.
Additionally, he said, this time period means a generally increased risk of all respiratory illnesses, such as influenza, and an effective vaccine for COVID-19 is not expected to be available during the coming months.
He said people need to remain vigilant and continue to wear facial coverings, maintain social distancing, and keep their hands clean.
With numbers increasing at a higher rate across the state this week, Sen. Cyr said officials expect to see higher numbers on the Cape, as well. He said the state saw its highest daily increase since May on Monday, when 827 new positive cases were reported.
That figure was surpassed yesterday, when 986 new cases were reported. Barnstable County also reported a double-digit increase yesterday, with 11 new cases.
Hospitalizations on the Cape due to COVID-19 are lower this week than they were last week, according to numbers released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health yesterday.
As of the report, one patient with the disease was hospitalized at Falmouth Hospital and was not in intensive care. Cape Cod Hospital was not treating any patients with the illness.
In the past week a total of 40 people have tested positive for COVID-19 on Cape Cod; that is the same number of new cases that were reported last week. The state reported that Barnstable County has had a total of 1,922 cases of the illness while the Centers for Disease Control has a higher total, 2,136.
The CDC reported that the county accounts for 1.4 percent of all cases of the illness across the state.
Four people on Cape Cod have died from the illness in the past week.
None of the towns on the Upper Cape are considered to be high risk this week. Bourne has had six active cases in the past two weeks, with an average daily rate of two cases per 100,000 people, Falmouth has had nine active cases in the past two weeks with a daily rate of 2.1 per 100,000 people, Mashpee has had five active cases in the past two weeks with a daily rate of 2.3 per 100,000 people, and Sandwich has had seven active cases in the past two weeks with a daily rate of 2.4 cases per 100,000 people.
Across the state, a total of 143,927 cases of the disease have been confirmed since the outbreak began, and 9,589 people have died.
Over the past two weeks, the average age of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 has been 38, with the average age of someone who has died being 81. The majority of positive cases over the past two weeks have been in people under age 20, accounting for 20 percent of all cases reported in the past 14 days.
More than 5.4 million nasal swab tests have been administered to a total of 2.6 million people since the outbreak began.
On Wednesday the CDC updated the definition of a “close contact” when it comes to COVID-19.
A close contact is now defined as being within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over the course of 24 hours. As an example, having three exposures to a person in five-minute intervals over the course of one day will now be considered a close contact.
The close-contact period starts at two days before the onset of the illness. If the infected person is asymptomatic, the close-contact period starts two days before the patient was tested.
Previously, the definition of a close contact was being within six feet of an infected person for 15 consecutive minutes.