Experts suspect Delta variant is driving large number of breakthrough cases in Provincetown

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The Boston Globe 20 July, 2021 - 12:38pm 13 views

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More Than 5,100 Breakthrough COVID Cases Reported in Mass.; At Least 80 Have Died

NBC10 Boston 21 July, 2021 - 01:13am

More than 5,100 Massachusetts residents have tested positive for COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated against the virus, and at least 80 of them have died, state health officials said Tuesday night.

The latest update from the state Department of Public Health comes as coronavirus metrics continue to creep up in the Bay State while the more contagious Delta variant keeps spreading in the U.S.

The so-called breakthrough cases — where fully vaccinated individuals test positive for coronavirus — have so far been rare, but are possible. And should even be expected, per the CDC.

As of July 17, a total of 5,166 breakthrough cases had been reported to the state DPH. Of those, 272 people were hospitalized and survived. Of the 80 people who died, 23 died without being hospitalized; 57 died following a hospital stay.

The death toll reflects 1.54% of the 5,166 confirmed breakthrough cases and 0.0018% of the 4,307,361 Bay State residents fully vaccinated as of July 20.

The overwhelming majority of the reported breakthrough cases -- more than 93% -- did not result in either hospitalization or death. Health officials insist vaccine confidence should not be shaken, and say these numbers should be put into perspective.

"I think we have to be cautious but we have to keep it in perspective," said Michael Curry, the president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.

Tufts Medical Center epidemiologist Dr. Shira Doron says since people have started rolling up their sleeves for COVID vaccines, the Boston hospital has only seen two patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in those who were fully vaccinated. Neither died.

"What hasn't changed is that the vaccine is preventing severe disease and death," Doron said.

Doron also acknowledged while people are getting nervous hearing about breakthrough cases, she really believes the focus right now needs to be on getting more people vaccinated here in Massachusetts and across the U.S.

That's what keeps us safe, she said. Doron also stressed that adverse events associated with the vaccines are extremely rare.

"You have a small but larger than the gamble you're taking with the vaccine the chance of ending up in the hospital, in an ICU on a ventilator or potentially dead," she said.

According to Curry, the time to prepare is now.

"We need businesses to urge people to get vaccinated. I think businesses have to make a judgement call and decide where necessary to have a mask on when people come in. I know we're not in a state of emergency where we once were, but we may need to get back to those strategies. Quite frankly, it saves lives."

If you're still on the fence about getting the vaccine, Curry says you should go to trusted sources to get the facts and talk to your doctor if you have any questions.

Mass. reports 716 new COVID-19 breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals

WCVB Boston 20 July, 2021 - 05:40pm

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A breakthrough case is when an individual tests positive for COVID-19 after they've been fully vaccinated against the disease.

Numbers from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health show there have been 5,166 cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated individuals as of July 17, a significant increase from the 4,450 reported one week earlier.

As of Tuesday, the DPH reported 1,649 new positive COVID-19 cases between July 10 and July 16.

When analyzing the number of overall COVID-19 cases reported by the DPH between July 10 and July 16, the breakthrough cases account for 43.4 percent of all new COVID-19 cases.

Massachusetts doctors say the biggest cause is the arrival of the COVID-19 delta variant, which is twice as infectious than the original virus.

"We also know that people who have the Delta variant actually have 1,000 times the amount of virus in their nose, in their bodies," Dr. Katherine Gergen Barnett with Boston Medical Center said.

Officials in Provincetown have traced at least 132 COVID-19 cases from July 1 to July 16 back to the Cape Cod community, saying that a vast majority of them have been among vaccinated individuals.

Massachusetts hospitals have seen increasing hospitalizations over the past 10 days, but the 7-day average of hospitalizations is only up approximately 20 patients versus the low hit on July 9.

The town issued a public health advisory on Monday asks people to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status and requiring some businesses to request proof of vaccination before allowing people to enter.

On Tuesday, public health officials in Boston recommended that any residents who have visited Provincetown since July 1 get tested for COVID-19, self-isolate, and avoid gatherings for at least five days, regardless of vaccination status

The city's health department said 35 cases of COVID-19 were traced back to the Provincetown cluster, with the overwhelming majority in people who have been fully vaccinated.

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Boston urges Provincetown visitors to get tested for COVID-19, self-isolate

WCVB Boston 20 July, 2021 - 02:54pm

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The Boston Public Health Commission said at least 35 COVID-19 cases in Boston residents have been traced back to a cluster in Provincetown, adding that the overwhelming majority of the patients were fully vaccinated.

The city's health commission issued new guidance Tuesday to all Boston residents who have traveled to Provincetown so far during the month of July and until further notice.

The city is telling visitors to the town to get tested for COVID-19 at least five days after returning, regardless of vaccination status or symptoms.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health has reported 132 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the Provincetown cluster.

Provincetown officials and health officials became aware of an outbreak, which involved many breakthrough cases, following the Fourth of July holiday.

The town, at the tip of Cape Cod, has a year-round population of about 3,000 people. That number swells to 60,000 in the summer.

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Popular Massachusetts tourist destination issues mask advisory after 132 new Covid cases

NBC News 20 July, 2021 - 10:53am

As of Friday, 132 Covid cases that are associated with Provincetown have been reported to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, according to a joint release from the town's Board of Health and the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment. It's unclear how many who tested positive were vaccinated.

Of the cases, 89 people who tested positive are Massachusetts residents, while the rest are from other states.

The summer travel spot at the northern tip of Cape Cod has a year-round population of about 3,000.

During an emergency meeting Monday, the Provincetown Board of Health voted to advise people to wear masks inside, regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated people, including children under 12, are required to wear masks indoors and outdoors, which is in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

Venues where social distancing is not possible are also "strongly advised to enforce vaccine verification prior to admittance," according to the board.

The board told residents that testing and vaccination are available through Outer Cape Health Services in Provincetown, and said a mobile test site would be set up at the Veterans Memorial Community Center parking lot through at least the end of the week.

The board said the numbers might change "as the situation evolves," but if cases don't go down within the next three weeks, it will consider declaring a public health emergency.

"You can be confident that, if we don't see an inflection in this in the next three weeks, that I will call us back into session and we will look at declaring a public health emergency, but I want the public health officials to tell us that they think that that's correct," Provincetown Board of Health Chair Stephen Katsurinis said, according to NBC Boston.

"I think this is a good, solid step. And I think it's sufficient for where we are," he added.

"I have to say, I'm a little disappointed that we haven't taken a stronger stand on this," said Janet Whelan, a member of the Provincetown Board of Health. "Rather than just advising, we should require masks."

Provincetown issues face mask advisory after new COVID outbreak in summer hotspot

Fox News 20 July, 2021 - 10:20am

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A coronavirus outbreak linked to a Cape Cod summer vacation hotspot prompted local health officials on Monday to institute a new mask advisory, a report said.

Residents in Provincetown, Massachusetts, are being advised to wear the face coverings indoors following the cluster of 132 cases that is believed to have stemmed from Fourth of July celebrations, NBC Boston reported.

Many of those infected are fully vaccinated and 89 of them are Massachusetts residents, the report said.

As part of the advisory, passed Monday by the Provincetown Board of Health, high-density venues are urged to enforce vaccination status upon entry, the report said.

At least one member of the health board felt more action is needed.

"I have to say, I’m a little disappointed that we haven’t taken a stronger stand on this. Rather than just advising, we should require masks," said Dr. Janet Whelan, according to the report.

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