Board of Health (508) 862-4644 health@town.barnstable.ma.us

Wednesday December 23, 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advisory Information

During the past fourteen days, a total of 208 new probable and confirmed cases were reported in the Town of Barnstable which calculates to an average of 14.8 cases per day (or 33.4 per 100,000 population).  Since March 19th, a total of 1,373 residents of the Town have tested positive for COVID-19 cumulatively to date.  The epidemiological graph below provides the number of positive cases reported per day in the Town of Barnstable during the time period from March 19, 2020 through December 22, 2020.  The green line depicted on this graph is an attempt to show the reader where we have been and where are presently in regards to the “curves,” providing the average number of cases reported per day along a time-line.

Covid Case Graph

Hospitalizations of patients infected with this virus have increased during the past month in Barnstable County.  As of yesterday, Cape Cod Healthcare reported thirty-nine (33) positive patients who were/are being treated in their two hospitals (Falmouth Hospital and Cape Cod Hospital).  Three (3) patients were in the intensive care units as of yesterday.  

In Barnstable County, there have been a total of 4,644 positive cases (cumulatively) and 221 deaths from Coronavirus this year.  The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported there have been a total of 318,143 positive cases and 11,549 deaths from COVID-19 in the State of Massachusetts this year.  In the United States, 18,237,191 persons contracted the virus and a total of 322,849 persons in the United States died from the virus this year according to data received from the John Hopkins University website.

Since Sunday December 13th, all cities and towns in Massachusetts reverted back to Step 1 of Phase III of the opening plan.  Information regarding businesses and venues affected by this regression is available at:  https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-updates-and-information  

Yesterday, Governor Baker announced a temporary Executive Order which will take effect on December 26th and will continue until Sunday, January 10th, with a possibility of an extension of another week.  This pause will reduce allowable occupancy capacity levels from 40% to 25% in multiple sectors as follows:   

  • This capacity limit will now apply to restaurants. Capacity will be set at 25% of pre-COVID seating capacity and distancing between tables and other requirements will remain in place. Indoor and outdoor seating capacity must be calculated separately (rather than combining them).
  • Small spaces (such as personal services) and other spaces without clear occupancy standards may use 5 people / 1000 square feet as an alternative to the 25% occupancy .
  • Limits at indoor event venues are being reduced to 10 people. 
  • Limits at outdoor event venues are being reduced to 25 people.
  • Limits at movie theaters will be reduced to 25% (no more than 50 people per theater)
  • Office spaces will be required to reduce capacity to 25%, but allowances for offices with “critical services”, such as public safety, public health, and other critical services is continued. 
  • K-12 schools continue to be exempted from these capacity limits and will continue to follow DESE standards and guidelines. 

On December 14, 2002, Hyannis Fire Chief Peter Burke and the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force announced new test sites at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis and at the Barnstable Fairgrounds in Falmouth.  Additional testing sites on the Outer Cape will be established in partnership with Outer Cape Community Health Center at three locations in the near future.  Eligibility criteria for the testing include residency in Barnstable County.  Tests for asymptomatic individuals are available for $75, and are offered for free to individuals who confirm their inability to pay when they call to book an appointment.  To receive a test, individuals must book an appointment in advance by calling the Community Testing Line at 508-534-7103.  For additional information, please click on this link:: https://www.capecodhealth.org/medical-services/infectious-disease/coronavirus/covid-19-testing-process/

The Massachusetts COVID Vaccination Plan was announced and conforms to the phases and prioritized populations identified by the Centers for Disease Control.  During Phase 1, healthcare workers, older adults living in skilled nursing facilities, congregate care settings, emergency responders (police, fire, EMS), shelters, corrections, and other healthcare workers will be prioritized for vaccination as doses become available.   It should be noted that as of this date, local health departments do not have any vaccines onsite for distribution or vaccinations.  The first shipments of vaccine were delivered to hospitals across the Massachusetts for vaccinations of their workers.  The State contracted with CVS and Walgreens to arrange f or vaccinations of patients and residents of long term care facilities.  

Vaccine Phases

Key officials of the Town continue to meet daily to plan and implement proper actions which are in step with the Governor’s orders and MA DPH guidelines.  Health Division staff continue to meet and coordinate daily to ensure we are providing the most up-to-date information to citizens and business owners relative to latest Massachusetts requirements and recommendations.  Health inspectors continue to review applications and issue disposal works construction permits, review building permit applications, witness percolation tests, respond to complaints regarding hazardous wastes, retail stores, food establishments, semi-public swimming pools, hotels, recreational camps, tanning facilities, mobile food units, rental units, and horse stables.   Each complaint is investigated and appropriate action is taken within 24 hours.

During these times of increasing numbers of positive case counts and patient hospitalizations, we strongly urge everyone to follow the State guidelines and to take these basic precautions which include:

  • Wear a face covering while out in public where social distancing is not possible per the Governor’s order; 
  • Frequent hand-washing, for 20 seconds with soap;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Cough hygiene – into a tissue when possible (throw it away immediately) or into your arm.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with those who are ill.
  • Stay home yourself from work, school, sports and other activities when ill. 
  • Stay home to isolate or quarantine when contacted and required by the Board of Health.

Our Public Health Nurse and team of contract nurses continue to contact those who become infected to ensure they are appropriately isolated and to contact individuals who have come into contact with them to take the required quarantine precautions.  

If you should have any questions, call us at the Town of Barnstable Health Division Office at 508 862 4644.

Respectfully Submitted, 

Thomas A. McKean, RS, CHO

Director of Public Health