Towns Mull Over Mask Requirements as COVID Cases Drop

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

FALMOUTH – The Omicron variant surge of COVID-19 is coming to an end, but some health officials say the risk is not over, especially for the unvaccinated.

With cases declining and statewide safety regulations relaxing, it has also brought into question how local governments will respond.

Falmouth Health Agent Scott McGann said that vaccination rates continue to be strong across the town and region, and hospitalizations have been low compared to earlier points in the pandemic. 

He said that it speaks to the efficacy of the vaccines, though those unvaccinated still face potentially severe symptoms, even if the Omicron variant has shown to be slightly less devastating compared to Delta in terms of infection.

The future is still murky when it comes to further shots as well, said McGann.

He said that elderly or other at-risk groups may need an extra dose compared to other demographics, but no policy or recommendation has been issued by any official state or federal health agency. 

The summer tends to show less transmission of any respiratory virus, including COVID, but McGann said that there may be further advice on more booster doses before the next winter.

“I’m sure there will be some guidance before Thanksgiving on whether people who have already been boosted a year ago will need it,” said McGann. 

The definition of what “fully vaccinated” means may also continue to change in the future as more doses are deemed necessary by health officials for the best possible protection against the virus.

The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education also recently announced that the indoor mask mandate for students and staff at public schools will not be extended beyond February 28, though local districts can still enforce their own face covering requirement if they choose.

“The school committee will discuss it on Tuesday. It is up to individual schools and individual school systems if they want to continue it. They will discuss it at the school board,” said McGann.

Masks are still required in all town-owned buildings, though that order will be discussed at the next Board of Health meeting in light of declining case counts.

Vaccine appointments can be found online through the state’s website.

Pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens, also can provide vaccine appointments. 

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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