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State Monitoring COVID Outbreak At Cape Cod Senior Living Home

WEST YARMOUTH (CBS) - At least 33 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Maplewood at Mayflower Place senior living home in West Yarmouth since July 10, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed to WBZ-TV.

Twenty-four of the cases are in residents, the majority of whom are vaccinated, according to DPH. They all are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.

The remaining nine cases are in staff members, and all are "stable" according to health officials. Their vaccination status, however, has not been released.

"I wonder if they tell the residents," Cynthia Kaplan of Hyannis told WBZ as she pulled out of the facility after visiting her elderly cousin, who mentioned nothing about the outbreak.

"It's scary, I wouldn't have even gone [to visit]…I wouldn't even have done that. There's just no reason to," added Kathy Cassidy, another visitor.

The Department of Public Health has provided resources and personal protective equipment to the facility in recent days, and staff and residents are regularly getting tested for the virus.

Dr. Shira Doron of Tufts Medical Center explained that the small nursing home outbreak would be a teaching moment about the virus, it's variants, and the vaccine. "We were also hoping the vaccinated people, if they did get an infection, they would be very unlikely to transmit it. I think we are seeing that that really does happen and it can really spread and part of that is that the Delta variant is so contagious," she explained.

"The reason [this outbreak] is a headline is because it's not what we've been seeing until now," she said. "It's not what we expected" among a largely vaccinated population.

The good news, she says, is that while cases are going up not only at this nursing home but across the state, hospitalizations and death rates so far are stable, showing that the vaccine does work to prevent severe disease and death.

"If we could vaccinate everyone, even if we still had all kinds of mild COVID around, we wouldn't care," Dr. Doron explained. "The problem is that not everyone is vaccinated and we don't want that virus to then go on to affect somebody who is not vaccinated, who is at risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death."

The Department of Public Health tells WBZ it is in daily contact with Maplewood at Mayflower Place to "ensure staffing levels are maintained." It also says that residents who have tested positive have been offered monoclonal antibody therapeutics to help them with the virus.

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