The recent upward trend in COVID-19 case numbers should serve as a reminder to be vigilant in virus precautions, especially over the Halloween weekend and as colder weather arrives, Cape Cod officials said Thursday.
Statewide, 7,557 new cases of the contagious respiratory disease have been recorded over the past week, with daily case counts exceeding 1,000 on each of the last five days.
Barnstable County, like the state as a whole, recently has been seeing daily numbers last reached in May, including 24 new cases on Tuesday and 26 on Monday, Sen. Julian Cyr said on a call with other members of the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force.
“Early reports in contact tracing suggest that a majority of these cases are attributable to a small, maskless event that happened indoors and then subsequent infection of family members,” Cyr said, later specifying that the event was “not a party” and was held on the mid-Cape.
“Indoor socializing without a mask remains one of the most efficient ways for COVID-19 to spread and I think we need to reiterate that, particularly, socializing indoors without a mask can be reckless, and we need people to understand particularly now, what happens in the coming weeks is going to determine the course of the virus on Cape Cod and across Massachusetts for the rest of the winter,” he said. “Essentially, it’s really up to us. We have the opportunity to determine how dark of a winter this is going to be.”
Two days before Halloween, Cyr, a Truro Democrat who formerly worked for the Department of Public Health, said that the choices people make over this and other coming weekends will shape the trajectory of the virus and “determine if we continue to see such alarming case numbers.”
Cyr said that message is especially important for those in their late teens through 30s. Gov. Charlie Baker this week highlighted a rise in cases among the under-30 age group, saying that while younger people may experience mild or no symptoms of COVID-19, they can spread the virus among their families and to others who may experience worse outcomes.
“Traditionally, Halloween has grown to become a bit of a bacchanal,” Cyr said. “We cannot have that behavior this year, and if we do see that we are going to see an increase in cases that is going to lead to community spread on Cape Cod.”
Baker has urged people not to host or attend indoor Halloween parties, and said that structured, outdoor activities, like socially distanced trick-or-treating with face coverings, are a safer way to celebrate.
The popular Halloween destination of Salem, which canceled all its large October events in August, is imposing a suite of restrictions this weekend to dissuade crowds, including earlier business closures and limited commuter rail service.
Cape officials highlighted some modified events that comply with public health guidance, including drive-through trick-or-treating Saturday at Monomoy Regional High School and a family-friendly interactive tour in Provincetown that delves into local ghost stories and eerie histories of notable locations.
The inability to celebrate Halloween in traditional ways “really stinks for everybody,” Chatham Police Chief Mark Pawlina said.
“But I think it’s important that we have to just do things a little bit differently until this passes,” he said. “For those who are going to be out and being involved in some kind of candy-exchange activity, just again — masks, distancing and wash your hands. Those are the three holy grails, if you will, of getting through this.”
(Copyright (c) 2020 State House News Service.
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