Chatham Braced for Potential Holiday COVID Surge

COVID-19 illustration by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CHATHAM – With COVID-19 case numbers climbing region-wide and the appearance of the Omicron variant within Massachusetts, local municipalities including Chatham are gearing up ahead of a potential winter surge.

The latest figures from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health places Barnstable County’s positivity rate at about 7 percent, with similar new daily case numbers to the surge felt in January of this year. 

The Chatham Board of Health said that as of December 6, about 450 total cases have been reported in town since the beginning of the pandemic, 8 of which were this December. 

The incidence rate—the total number of cases reported per hundred thousand people—for Chatham is currently 28.2 percent, up from 23.3 % last week. The 2-week positivity rate climbed up to 7.0 percent  from 5.37 percent the previous week.

Chatham Health Agent Judith Giorgio said that efforts continue to get the homebound vaccinated and boost the town’s vaccination rate.

“I’m still working on getting the booster shots out to the homebound. I think we found that it’s scheduled for December 17 with the EMTs in Chatham and Outer Cape Health,” said Giorgio.

“We also have on the 17th schedule a clinic at Chatham Elementary School for our 5 to 11 year old’s. I urge our families out there to register for that. You can find the link by contacting the health department.”

Pooled testing and other testing methods continue to be utilized in schools, though some cases still develop and spread to the rest of the family, said Giorgio. 

As Omicron looms, Giorgio said that much is still unknown about the coronavirus variant. 

She said that early data shows that the variant has more mutations than the Delta variant, which is currently causing upticks in cases across the northeast region of the U.S.

“They don’t know a lot about it. There’s still a lot of questions, but it is something of concern, so we’re keeping an eye on that. Really the best defense is the things we’ve been doing all along: masking up, getting your vaccine, getting your booster shots, good hand hygiene and monitoring your health and staying home if you’re sick.”

She also emphasized the importance of getting tested for COVID ahead of any potential holiday travel, which could lead to further spread of the virus. 

“It’s not looking as good as we would like it to look, and unfortunately over the holidays I think it may get slightly worse, but if people do what they need to do—get vaccinated, get their booster shots—I’m hoping we can stem this a little bit,” said Giorgio.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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