More than 250 coronavirus cases have been confirmed as connected to a COVID outbreak in Provincetown, the popular tourist town on the tip of Cape Cod. Many of the cases are from elsewhere in Massachusetts or out of state, authorities said Wednesday.
Also Wednesday, Nantucket joined Provincetown in advising people on the island to start wearing masks indoors and when social distancing in public isn't possible.
"The increased virulence of the Delta variant, and its high ability to infect even those vaccinated in some cases, means that masking and distancing are strongly recommended at this time," the popular tourist destination said in a release.
Provincetown earlier this week issued its own mask advisory in light of its cases, many of which were previously detected in people who are fully vaccinated. Wednesday's update from Town Manager Alex Morse noted that health officials are still investigating the vaccination status of people in the cluster.
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There are so far 256 confirmed cases in the Provincetown outbreak. Of them, 109 are from people who live in Cape Cod's Barnstable County -- less than half of the total --while 66 are from people who don't live in Massachusetts, Morse said.
"Public health authorities continue to strongly urge Provincetown’s residents, local businesses, and visitors to follow the precautions outlined in the advisory released Monday, July 19 regardless of vaccination status," he said in a statement, noting that more than 3,000 COVID tests have been given since July 1.
People are being urged to get tested even if they have mild symptoms, were only in close contact with someone else who tested positive or are fully vaccinated.
Despite being the most vaccinated place in Massachusetts, the Cape is also seeing the most COVID-19 cases in the state.
Some businesses in Provincetown are going beyond the indoor mask advisory, requiring vaccine cards as well. Elsewhere on the Cape Wednesday, tourism was thriving during the height of the busy summer season.
"The tourism is heavier than its ever been. We went to a restaurant last night it was the busiest I've ever seen it," said one Cape resident in downtown Falmouth.
Kevin Hutchinson, who is visiting friends, said he's still using his mask to stay safe in crowded situations.
"I think it's concerning, and therefore that's why I am hanging on to this [mask] and if I go into a crowded store, I'll put it on, and if it's too crowded, I won't go in," Hutchinson said.
State Sen. Julian Cyr, who is on the Cape Cod COVID-19 task force, tied the rise in cases to the holiday weekend.
"We continue to see an uptick of cases across the region following the July 4 holiday," he said.
He'd expected Provincetown's case count to go up.
There's also a cluster at a Yarmouth skilled nursing facility.
"We're watching closely this hospilization number. What we want folks to know, if you are having symptoms, however mild, or if you have been exposed, you need to get tested," he said.
Aisha Telfort, who vacations on the Cape every year with her family, said she's vaccinated, so the uptick in COVID cases isn't overly worrisome to her.
"We believe in the science of it, and if you get vaccinated, it's safe to be out," Telfort said.
Cyr said the vaccine is working, the majority of the COVID cases are people with only mild symptoms and there's just a handful of hospitalizations.