In the wake of a revived tourist season, Provincetown, Massachusetts, is reporting an alarming spike in COVID-19 infections.
A popular Cape Cod destination, Provincetown hosted eager summertime tourists for the Fourth of July weekend. The town of 3,000 routinely swells in the summer months and accommodates more than 60,000 people.
“It really felt like a pre-COVID Fourth of July in Provincetown,” Nina Hargus, one of the many tourists visiting Provincetown during the holiday weekend, explained to ABC News. “Restaurants and bars were packed. The streets were filled with pedestrians, we saw very few masks, and no social distancing.”
However, once the festivities ended, according to officials in Provincetown, the holiday weekend triggered a significant rise in local COVID-19 cases. They revealed that there are at least 132 new confirmed cases, the majority of which are among vaccinated individuals.
If a vaccinated person contracts the virus, they are much less likely to become severely ill or require any kind of hospitalization. However, they can still experience mild, unpleasant symptoms, similar to those of the flu and bad colds. Unvaccinated individuals, however, are still at risk for the worst of the virus.
This is why Massachusetts officials are reacting to the events in early July with new guidelines and protocols. The Provincetown Board of Health hosted an emergency meeting Monday, voting to approve a new mask advisory that encourages masks for all indoor events, regardless of vaccination status.
They are also requiring masks for unvaccinated folks, including children, in both indoor and outdoor events, a protocol that mirrors guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are also strongly encouraging all indoor venues that cannot achieve proper social distancing to require some kind of vaccination verification.
Both testing and vaccinations have been available at Provincetown’s Outer Cape Health Services, but an additional mobile testing clinic will now be available at the Veterans Memorial Community Center for at least a week.
“You can be confident that, if we don’t see an inflection in this in the next three weeks, that I will call us back into session and we will look at declaring a public health emergency,” Provincetown Board of Health Chair Stephen Katsurinis told NBC Boston.
Outside of Provincetown, the Boston Public Health Commission has also decided to implement new guidance. Any Boston resident who has been to Provincetown at any point this month is being asked to self-isolate until they receive a negative COVID test result. This guidance is aimed at both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. At least 35 of the new confirmed cases have shown up in Boston.
“To have such a high number of folks — not only the Boston cases, but we know there’s over 130 or so coming out of Provincetown with also the majority being vaccinated — it is surprising,” Boston chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez told WBUR.