Sandwich Officials Stress Importance of COVID Testing, Vaccination

Fire Chief Burke

SANDWICH – Town of Sandwich officials are reminding residents of the importance of COVID-19 testing as vaccination efforts continue to ramp up amid an increase in cases in recent weeks.

The added emphasis on testing for both residents and municipalities also comes during an uptick in P.1 Brazilian COVID variant cases in Barnstable County. 

“To have 50 valid cases [of the P.1 variant], it does mean there’s more,” said Sandwich Director of Health David Mason during their most recent town PSA.

“Those numbers are growing based on the testing that’s done.”

Sandwich Fire Chief John Burke said that the nasal PCR testing and rapid testing the town provides are looking for general coronavirus sequences and will detect variants of the virus.

He said that testing apparatus capable of detecting COVID variants in the air is being sought by the fire department for their office, which already utilized a similar device earlier in the pandemic. 

“The variant plays an interesting role in this. We’re just going to keep all of our testing packages that we have from PCR, antigen and antibody in play here. All the way through 2021 we’ll have a testing posture available,” said Burke. 

“Whether we’re going to need it totally, I don’t know. But if you asked people in February ‘do we need testing capability’ the majority of people would have said no. Luckily we had 1,000 tests ready to go and we were aggressive in testing both town employees and school staff once a week over the past four to five weeks.”

Mason said that while vaccination efforts are important, it is vital that the town and other municipalities also continue to aggressively test in order to isolate and mitigate the spread of COVID.

“I think we all learned a lesson on not putting testing on the backburner, as much as we wanted to. We need to keep both the vaccine process and testing in parallel as we move forward here, at least for the next couple months,” said Burke.

The town officials also urged residents to get vaccinated as soon as they can, and to accept whatever brand of vaccine is offered in order to maximize the percentage of the population inoculated, reaching herd immunity faster.

They also stressed the importance of wearing masks, socially distancing and practicing other COVID safety guidance, even after receiving a shot.

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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