With Rising Vaccination Rates, Cape Gears Up for Safe and Busy Summer

Courtesy of Peter Schmeck

HYANNIS – At its weekly meeting, the Cape Cod COVID-19 Response Task Force outlined safety expectations for the upcoming summer season as well as vaccine equity across the region. 

Cape and Islands State Senator and public information officer for the task force, Julian Cyr, said that new case numbers are declining and vaccination rates continue to improve, indicating that the phased reopening approach is working well.

According to the latest figures from the state, 68 percent of Cape Cod residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 54 percent are fully vaccinated. 

In Dukes County, 79 percent have received at least one dose and 56 percent are fully vaccinated.

Nantucket County showed similar figures, with 77 percent having received a shot, while 55 percent are fully inoculated. 

Statewide, over 41 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. 

With these steadily climbing vaccination rates, the Cape is anticipating one of its busiest summer seasons ever. 

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Cape and the Islands will be one of the safest, if not the safest, summer destination in the United States for tourists and workers alike. But everyone is going to need to do their part to make sure that continues to be a reality through the season,” said Cyr. 

Cyr urged travelers to pack their masks alongside their swimsuits, and follow all local health and safety guidelines. 

“We welcome you with open arms on the Cape and Islands, but please, while you are on our turf, you must play by our rules,” said Cyr.

Face coverings are still required indoors at all times and outdoors if at least six feet of social distance cannot be maintained, even if fully vaccinated. The CDC updated its guidance on Thursday, saying vaccinated people could stop using masks in many situations, including indoors.

But Gov. Charlie Baker issued a statement Thursday night that said he was not yet ready to life the Massachusetts mask mandate.

Task force members said that businesses have struggled to survive the pandemic and reopen for the summer season, and asked travelers and residents alike to be patient and polite with workers facing more responsibilities than usual this season. 

On abiding by mask policies at businesses, Cyr asked customers to be respectful and avoid confrontation. 

Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross said that the region is still in the midst of a “hiring boom” as businesses race to acquire workers ahead of the summer season. 

Healthcare, finance, retail, manufacturing, and hospitality industries are all looking for employees as the Cape begins recovery from the pandemic. 

When it comes to vaccine equity, task force members said that they were concerned that vaccination rates among non-white residents and communities on Cape Cod are lagging behind rates among white residents. 

The task force said that it will reach out to these communities and expand informational efforts, and work to overcome language barriers, lack of transportation, vaccine hesitancy, disabilities, or any other obstacles between individuals and vaccination.

State assistance has also been requested by the task force for vaccinating minority populations in the region. 

“We have a lot of work to do here and a lot of work to do across Massachusetts. I think we’ve gotten the speed component of vaccine distribution, but we are still struggling with and working on equity,” said Cyr.

The majority of the Cape Cod Vaccine Consortium’s partners are offering walk-in vaccination opportunities in order to help get the population through the final leg of the race to a 75 percent vaccinated population.

About Grady Culhane

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

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