Cape Cod Reopening Task Force Frustrated With Private Events

The sign at the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce welcomes visitors.

HYANNIS – Local health officials and legislators say that they are frustrated with some people continuing to have larger gatherings and not practicing COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

“Many of the new COVID increase cases in Barnstable County are directly attributable to individual events and there is evidence that the community spread is limited, so we are talking about private events which admittedly is frustrating,” said Cape and Islands State Senator and Cape Cod Reopening Task Force Member Julian Cyr.  

“It’s frustrating to see these private events occurring, particularly if they are occurring indoors. Private events at which physical distancing and mask wearing are not occurring are the clear accelerant that is spreading the virus on Cape Cod.”

The task force pointed to two specific events as examples of the dangers of large gatherings – a July 12 private event in Chatham that saw 13 people test positive and a private patry held more recently in Falmouth that saw eight people test positive.

“It’s frustrating that these private events are occurring and they’re essentially house parties that are occurring and that this where we are seeing a chunk of these cases,”

“This is profoundly disrespectful to Cape Codders who have been working very hard and have done a good job to slow community spread. This is a trend that we are continuing to see happen, it’s just seems that people cannot help themselves.”  

Director of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment and task force member Sean O’Brien echoed Cyr’s statements.

“There is a frustration here. Our folks here on the Cape have done an excellent job flattening the curve and all of a sudden we’re now seeing these trickle ups because of these private events,” he said.

“It’s really important to follow those personal protection policies that we’ve been talking about since March.”

O’Brien said that not following health safety precautions in place can continue the spread of the virus.

Members of the task force expressed their frustration with the younger generation.

“It is irresponsible to host or attend a large group gathering at which physical distancing and masking is not taking place,” said Barnstable County Department of Human Services Senior Project Manager and task force member Vaira Harik.   

“All we are asking the age demographic nowadays is to be a little bit responsible and mindful of their community responsibility in this regard. We are not asking that much of this demographic in light of what prior generations in this country have done for the common good.”   

To try and appeal to the younger generation, the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment has launched the #ShowUpWithAMask campaign. 

The campaign includes a one-minute Public Service Announcement featuring several youths promoting mask-wearing, most of whom are residents on Cape Cod between the ages of 15 and 25. 

The campaign also includes a TikTok Challenge that calls for youth to create videos based on the #ShowUpWithAMask concept that can be viewed on the county’s new TikTok.

“We know we are taking a risk because TikTok is completely different than how local governments normally do social media, which is via Facebook and Twitter,” said Barnstable County Communications Manager Sonja Sheasley. 

“However, we see TikTok as an entertainment app with the potential to engage creative, young locals and visitors in sharing this essential message in a fun way, and at the height of our summer season. We are hoping to see some videos promoting mask-wearing fare more creative than what we could have come up with.” 

To further drive the message on the importance of wearing a mask, Barnstable County is also offering a free mask to county youth in the age range of 15 to 25. 

Those residents are prompted to fill out a short form, and a surgical mask will be mailed to them with a thank you letter from the county within five to seven days. 

Members of the task force said that they understand the want to socialize with other people but urged people to keep gatherings small and keep them outside when possible. 

According to the task force, the number of positive cases on Cape Cod have consistently increased.  

Cyr added that it remains to be seen if the increase in positive cases in Barnstable County will be sustained or if it’s a product of the post July 4th influx.

The task force is also closely monitoring COVID related hospitalizations.

Though hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, members of the task force say that hospitalization are an important indicator to keep an eye on.

About NewsCenter

The award-winning NewsCenter provides the Cape Cod community with a constant, credible source for local news. We are on the job seven days a week.
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy