After drive-through testing began this week at Cape Cod Community College, there were five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Barnstable County as of Thursday, March 19. All are on the Upper Cape. There is also a presumptive positive case in Harwich.
No deaths from the virus have yet been announced in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 328 confirmed cases statewide yesterday, with six in Bristol County and five in Plymouth County. Middlesex County had the highest number of confirmed cases, at 119.
As of Wednesday, March 18, 2,054 people in Massachusetts were subject to quarantine, with 886 having completed monitoring and no longer in quarantine.
Closer to home, Cape Cod Healthcare canceled its weekly coronavirus conference call for the media with Dr. David J. Pombo, the organization’s medical director for infection prevention, yesterday morning.
“We apologize for cancelling our media conference call today. We will work to reschedule as feasible,” said Christina Peaslee, the organization’s executive director of marketing communications and content strategy.
Cape Cod Healthcare could not be reached yesterday for additional updates about testing and confirmed or presumptive positive cases, which have been confirmed by the state but not yet by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Falmouth Confirms First Case
The Town of Falmouth confirmed its first COVID-19 case, Town Manager Julian M. Suso and Health Agent Scott McGann said in a joint statement yesterday.
The Falmouth Health Department, the state’s public health department and the Visiting Nurse Association in Falmouth are following proper isolation and quarantine protocols, including contact notifications, the statement said.
No other details about the case were announced as of yesterday evening.
Sandwich Confirms Three Cases
The number of cases of COVID-19 in Sandwich has increased to three, Assistant Town Manager Heather Harper said.
Board of Health Director David Mason said the latest case was known to have been in contact with the previous two cases—a married couple from Sandwich.
Mr. Mason said officials are not yet sure how the couple contracted the virus, nor do they know which Cape Cod Healthcare facility they were tested at. He said his department was informed of the cases through a medical notification system.
“At that point all we’re getting is a positive test,” he said. After receiving the notification, they start working to determine how the patient came in contact with the virus.
The first case in town was a Sandwich man in his 60s who tested positive on Friday, March 13. His wife, a staff member at the Barnstable Community Innovation School, tested positive two days later.
All staff members of the school were advised by Barnstable Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown to self-quarantine through Friday, March 20, to monitor themselves for symptoms of the virus.
Dr. Mayo-Brown sent out an email to staff and parents on Tuesday, March 17, to inform them that a student from West Villages Elementary School and a staff member from Barnstable High School are also symptomatic and undergoing testing.
Mr. Mason said that he is not aware of the status of any of the Sandwich patients.
When asked if he felt that the virus has started to show signs of community spread in the area, Mr. Mason said that he does not see that as the case at this time.
“I’m not comfortable calling out community spread,” he said. “It’s a cluster at this point.”
Pocasset Case Confirmed
There is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at Cape Cod Senior Residences at 100 Dr. Julius Kelley Lane in Pocasset.
“An elderly resident with underlying health conditions living in the independent living wing of the community has been hospitalized in a [Cape Cod Healthcare] intensive care unit with a positive diagnosis for the virus and will remain in the hospital for treatment,” Robert Larkin, the company’s president, said in a statement yesterday.
Cape Cod Healthcare and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health have not yet confirmed the case.
Cape Cod Senior Residences provided no other information about the patient.
“We are in close contact with representatives from the appropriate governmental agencies, and we will immediately implement any recommendations they have for us that go beyond our existing rigorous infectious disease control measures. Our entire community is under a self-quarantine, with a continued protocol of restricting visits to those that are essential and medically necessary,” Mr. Larkin wrote.
“Residents and staff members continue to be monitored closely, along with screening of staff members before beginning work,” Mr. Larkin wrote.
Any staff member who exhibits symptoms will be required “to stay home following the CDC guidelines for a minimum of a two-week self-quarantine and return to work only after they have been cleared by a medical professional. Any resident who exhibits symptoms will be in immediate contact with their physician,” he wrote.
“Our highest priority is to continue to do everything we can to minimize the spread of this infection, and continue to provide supportive services for our residents. The management team at the community has been in contact with every resident’s family members to share information about their loved ones and respond to questions,” Mr. Larkin added.
Presumptive Case in Harwich
The Town of Harwich announced its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 yesterday. Due to privacy requirements, the demographics of this case will remain anonymous. The Visiting Nurse Association has notified the close contacts of the positive case, who are following CDC guidelines for self-quarantine, the Harwich Fire Department said in a statement.
Effective Monday, March 23, all early education centers and family childcare providers will be closed statewide. As a result, emergency procedures have been issued to set forth a process for opening exempt emergency child care programs to provide priority access for families of emergency personnel, medical staff and others critical to confronting COVID-19, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care said in a statement yesterday.
Vulnerable children will also receive priority access, but these emergency childcare programs will be the only ones allowed to operate during this state of emergency, and providers impacted by these closures will continue to receive childcare subsidy payments from the state to ensure that programs can reopen once the crisis ends, the statement says.
Blood Donors Needed
The need for blood donations on Cape Cod is high, and Cape Cod Healthcare is hosting a blood drive March 20 at the Mugar entrance of Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Virtual Medical Visits
Community Health Center of Cape Cod in Mashpee is offering expanded telehealth appointments, also known as virtual visits. Virtual visits may be accomplished through a more-detailed phone call or through a video conferencing application within the patient’s electronic health record, the center said in a statement yesterday, adding that patients should call before visiting the center. Many health conditions may be addressed virtually, reducing the risk of community exposure to COVID-19, the statement says.