New COVID Testing Services Come to Outer Cape

HYANNIS – As the increase in COVID cases brought on by the Omicron variant continues, local lawmakers have emphasized the importance of testing resources that have been newly expanded to face the recent wave.

The latest data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health places Barnstable County’s 14-day average positivity rate at about 18 percent with 4,540 new cases over the same period—accounting for about 16 percent of the county’s total cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

The statewide average positive test rate began to decline slightly over the past several days. And data from the MWRA that tracks COVID in the wastewater indicates a 40% decrease over the past week. 

Hospitalizations are rising back up to similar numbers seen during last winter’s surge.

“I want to note that this is a lagging indicator. The new case numbers that we’re seeing this week and last week, that’s going to likely push our test positivity rate higher—likely close to 20 percent,” said Cape and Islands State Senator Julian Cyr during the weekly COVID update with local and regional leaders.

“Nearly all towns in the region are above that 10 percent positivity rate which is indicative of outbreak status according to the World Health Organization (WHO).”

A positive rate of less than five percent would indicate that an outbreak is under control in a given community, said Cyr.

He added that fatalities remain comparatively low when compared to previous surges when vaccines were less available.

Last week, Cyr and other lawmakers and local leaders including Plymouth/Barnstable State Senator Susan Moran announced the expansion of testing resources across Cape Cod, including a Stop-the-Spread state-sponsored site at the Melody Tent in Hyannis, and this week Cyr said even more is on the way.

Falmouth will also continue PCR testing at the Cape Cod Church to provide better shelter during the winter months, and weekly testing will also be available on Tuesdays from 10 to 2 at Provincetown Town Hall.

“We’re also in the process of assessing each town’s interest in bulk purchasing of at-home test kits,” added Cyr.

“A survey was sent out to each Cape and Islands health department to evaluate that need, and the county is currently waiting to hear back from each town.”

By avoiding unnecessary exposures, Cyr said that residents can help save tests for those who need them most.

Fourth Barnstable District State Representative Sarah Peake highlighted the efficacy of booster shots as case numbers continue to climb, though symptoms overall are generally less severe among infected. 

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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