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Provincetown Advisory Recommends Face Masks Indoors; 132 Cases Linked To COVID Cluster

PROVINCETOWN (CBS) -- A new public health advisory encouraging face masks indoors and COVID vaccine verification at crowded venues was issued in Provincetown Monday after 132 coronavirus cases were linked to a cluster from the July 4th holiday week. Most new cases are reported to be in vaccinated people who experienced mild symptoms.

The advisory states that "masks are advised indoors where social distancing cannot be achieved." P-Town will require masks for unvaccinated people, including children, in public indoor spaces and busy outdoor locations.

"Venues with high density where social distancing is not achievable are strongly advised to enforce vaccine verification prior to admittance," the advisory states.

Epidemiologists say the outbreak is likely a result of the highly contagious delta variant that is now circulating in the United States.

Dr. Catherine Brown from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said DPH has alerted other state jurisdictions to the cluster and is working with the Centers For Disease Control to actively find out-of-state cases.

The numbers show 89 are Massachusetts residents, and 43 are from out of state. Nearly three quarters of infected people are showing symptoms. Ninety-three percent are male patients, with the median age being 35.

Thirty-two businesses in Provincetown have cases associated with the cluster.

"I think this last week and since July 4th is just a reminder to us that yes, COVID is still here," Barnstable County Chief Health Officer Sean O'Brien said.

Vaira Harik with Barnstable County Human Services said the exact number of people who were vaccinated is under investigation. But she said the amount of cases in vaccinated people is "significant" and "more than the 5% efficacy rate of the vaccine."

Officials emphasized that the vaccines have shown to be effective due to the mildness of the symptoms. Provincetown is extending a mobile COVID testing van's stay until Friday, and vaccines are also being offered at the van.

Town Manager Alex Morse acknowledged that the popular LGBTQ+ summer destination was densely packed for the holiday.

"We know that we just had two of the busiest weeks out of the summer," Morse said. "We're hopeful that with behavior changes and with time we'll see some stability, but we just can't predict that yet."


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