Provincetown COVID Update: New Indoor Mask Mandate Imposed

Tuesday July 27, 2021
Originally published on July 26, 2021

With COVID-19 cases contracted in Provincetown — many of which described as "breakthrough" cases — town officials imposed stronger guidelines at an emergency meeting on Sunday, the Boston Globe reports.

"Provincetown officials during an emergency meeting late Sunday afternoon approved a new indoor mask mandate and a measure clearing the way for stricter capacity limits on local businesses amid a surge of new COVID-19 cases since the July Fourth holiday weekend," writes the Globe.

Additionally, ABC News reports, "Since data was last updated last week, the cluster has grown to a cumulative total of at least 551 confirmed cases following a busy July Fourth weekend. Of these cases, 394 individuals are Massachusetts residents, 171 of whom reside in Provincetown, while the remaining individuals who tested positive reside in other states or jurisdictions."

"COVID, unfortunately — and I think it's depressing for many of us — isn't going away anytime soon," Provincetown's town manager Alex Morse said during the meeting. "Provincetown is experiencing what other places will be experiencing, earlier."

Health officials are calling the Provincetown outbreak a "cluster," as the number of reported cases reached 551 cases as of Friday, including some caused by the more infectious Delta variant, Barnstable County officials said during Sunday's meeting.

Nearly 70% of those cases occurred among vaccinated people. Reports also say three hospitalizations have been linked to the cluster.

"In addition," ABC News reported, "officials reported that 88% of the cases are among males, and the median age of those testing positive is 39."

Los Angeles-based publicist Howard Bragman of LaBrea Media shared an Instagram post about his Ptown trip in which he wrote, "I brought home the one souvenir from Provincetown NOBODY wants!"

"The new mandate will be upheld until Provincetown's positivity rate falls below 3%, for five consecutive days, at which point it will shift to an advisory," ABC News reported. "When the town's positivity rate dips to 1% or below, for five consecutive days, the advisory will end."

The Globe added: "Local public health experts said in interviews earlier Sunday that recommendations that people wear masks — even if they are vaccinated — may be a necessary step to help stop the virus's spread, along with limiting the number of people gathering indoors in places like restaurants or stores."

Sixty percent of Massachusetts residents of a roughly seven million population are fully vaccinated, which is 11% above the national average, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control.

Sean O'Brien, Barnstable County's chief health officer, said at Sunday's meeting that vaccinated people who got infected in the Provincetown cluster were largely asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.

"What we're seeing here is just a very good example of how well the vaccine is working," O'Brien said. "It's really important to remember: People need to still be vaccinated."

ABC News adds that Provincetown "has also resumed wastewater surveillance, in an effort to further track the spread of the virus within the community, which officials said has been a valuable surveillance tool and was conducted in Provincetown throughout the pandemic."

"COVID, unfortunately, and I think it's depressing for many of us, isn't going away anytime soon, and I think what Provincetown is experiencing is what other places will be experiencing, earlier," said Morse.