The Perfect Storm: COVID-19 in Cape Cod

The Perfect Storm: COVID-19 in Cape Cod Posted By:
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Let's set the scene: It's July 2021; the weather is warm and it's time for a vacation.

Many people are eager to get out and visit with loved ones—family, friends. The pandemic, although not over, seems to be under better control, thanks to the abundant availability of multiple vaccines in the United States. Many adults—at least those who are willing and able to—have received the vaccine. After a long year-plus of lockdowns, isolation, work from home, masking, and generally life-changing events—including tragic widespread mortality and morbidity—due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC lifted its mask mandate for those who are fully vaccinated. It's party time in Provincetown on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Multiple large public events took place in Provincetown between July 3-17, 2021. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health tracked 469 COVID-19 cases among Massachusetts residents who traveled to Provincetown during that timeframe. Of those 469 cases, 346 (74%) occurred in fully vaccinated people. Genomic sequencing for the Delta variant in 133 specimens identified that 90% were Delta cases. Among 5 patients who were hospitalized for the infection, 4 were fully vaccinated; no deaths were reported.

What lessons were learned from Provincetown? The high transmissibility of the Delta variant was confirmed, with similar RT-PCR cycle thresholds in vaccinated and unvaccinated persons; vaccination was reiterated as the most important strategy to prevent serious illness and death from SARS-CoV-2. Public health officials are now taking a second look at large public gatherings and implementing masking and additional safety protocols, especially for indoor events, for all persons—regardless of vaccination status. Take a look at this most interesting report for more details and lessons learned.

References
  • Brown CM, et al. Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 infections, including COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections, associated with large public gatherings - Barnstable County, Massachusetts, July 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;70:1059.

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Filed under: Public Health

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