Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment

Analysis provided by Vaira Harik, Deputy Director and Senior Project Manager at Barnstable County’s Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Harik has recently assumed the role of Assistant County Administrator.

September 3, 2021 | New case numbers in the three counties remain elevated as we enter the fall/back-to-school season.

In Barnstable County, while the case increases associated with the Provincetown Cluster have abated, we are still picking up anywhere from 15 to 50 new cases per day (sometimes more). On the Islands we have seen significant case increases over the past six weeks which have begun to abate on Nantucket but not yet on Martha’s Vineyard.

The spread of the Delta variant has caused this resurgence in cases across Cape Cod and on the Islands and is the variant associated with increasing cases numbers across our region and the state. Note that, nationwide, approximately 20% of new cases identified via testing are among fully vaccinated persons. In MA 25% of patients hospitalized for COVID are fully vaccinated. Again, the larger-than-expected numbers of cases among vaccinated persons is attributed to the presence of the Delta variant. As such nearly all public health authorities–national, state, and local–recommend resumption of masking in indoor public spaces, physical distancing, and continuation of handwashing and other hygienic precautions.

1. New Cases on the Cape and Islands: the DPH reported the following new case numbers in the three counties:

–Barnstable County: 65 new cases

–Martha’s Vineyard: 12 new cases
–Nantucket: 3 new cases

On 5/29/21 the Statewide masking mandate was lifted. However:

–Businesses whose activities involve staff contact with patrons indoors and/or patrons’ close contact with one another (within 6 feet, for >15 minutes) may wish to re-assert masking and physical distancing requirements.

–At a minimum, all unvaccinated persons, including children, are advised to mask indoors in public spaces and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible.

–DPH recommends that all persons, vaccinated or not, experiencing COVID symptoms or having had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID be tested themselves. Guidance on testing, isolation, and quarantine can be found here:

2. Hospitalizations and Fatalities: The 3-day avg. hospitalization rate at CCH and FH is 12.7 (its recent peak was 14.0 on 8/23). Hospitalizations remain relatively low and are far below what has been seen during prior case surges. This is due to the efficacy of the vaccines at preventing severe illness and hospitalizations among cases. Sixteen fatalities have been reported since the beginning of this Delta surge in late June/early July. Total fatalities among Barnstable County residents due to COVID are 488.

CCH and Falmouth Hospitals remain open to visitation but have again tightened their visitation policies somewhat. As with all healthcare providers CCHC’s masking protocols remain in place. ICU and med/surg patients remain younger than were seen during prior case surges.

3. Schools and Childcare Centers: Schools and childcare centers remain subject to the following guidance from DESE and the DPH:

–K-12 Schools: Last week DESE Commissioner Riley was granted the authority to mandate masks for all K-12 public schools through 10/1/21, at least. After October 1, the commissioner’s policy would allow middle and high schools to lift the mask mandate for vaccinated students and staff only if the school meets a certain vaccination rate – at least 80 percent of students and staff in a school building are vaccinated. Unvaccinated students and staff would still be required to wear masks. The mandate would include exceptions for students who cannot wear a mask due to medical conditions or behavioral needs.

–Childcare/Early Education: The MA Dept of Early Education and Care (EEC) will likely implement a masking policy for clients/children and staff of licensed childcare facilities that is concordant with the DESE policy (noted above). See:

4. Test Positivity Rates (14-day average, as of 8/28/21): DPH updates these rates on Thursday evenings.

Barnstable County:

3.09% (vs. 2.54%)   (higher vs. previous fortnight)

Dukes County:

7.45% (vs. 6.68%)   (higher)

Nantucket County:

7.35% (vs. 10.02%) (lower)

Dukes & Nantucket Counties     

7.41% (vs. 8.08%)   (lower)

State of Massachusetts

2.74% (vs. 2.83%)   (lower)

A test percent positivity rate below 1% suggests that an outbreak is contained.  Below 5% suggests that an outbreak is on the way to containment.

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