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COVID-19 cases continue climbing in Provincetown; Salem officials report ‘troubling trend’

Foot traffic along Commercial street in Provincetown was light last Tuesday amid an outbreak of COVID-19 infections in the popular tourist destination.
Foot traffic along Commercial street in Provincetown was light last Tuesday amid an outbreak of COVID-19 infections in the popular tourist destination.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

A coronavirus cluster in Provincetown that has mushroomed since the Fourth of July had expanded to 765 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, the town manager said, as Salem officials reported a “troubling trend” of rising cases in another popular Massachusetts destination community.

Despite the abrupt spike in cases, Provincetown officials are seeing signs of progress in the effort to contain the outbreak, according to a statement posted on Facebook by Town Manager Alex Morse.

The new data reported Tuesday shows an increase of 335 new cases since Morse last reported the town’s case count on Saturday, when it was marked at 430 confirmed cases. State officials confirmed Friday that the more contagious Delta variant of the virus had been found in people infected in Provincetown.

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Three hospitalizations have been linked to the cluster, Morse said in the statement. No deaths have been reported, he said.

Morse noted that the data is not cumulative and does not represent the number of people with active coronavirus cases or the number of people currently hospitalized.

“For instance, of the 199 cases identified among Provincetown residents since July 1, half have been released from isolation as of July 26 consistent with the timeframes associated with the virus’ incubation and infectious periods and Department of Public Health guidance on isolation,” Morse said in the statement.

The town adopted a new indoor mask mandate during an emergency meeting Sunday between the Select Board, the town’s Board of Health, and Barnstable County officials.

Morse said there is evidence that the town is making progress to contain the cluster, pointing to the declining rate of positive test results, which has fallen from 15 percent earlier this month to 7.9 percent as of Monday.

As Provincetown officials continue their fight to slow the virus amid a busy tourist season, other communities are also reporting alarming upticks in cases.

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On Monday, officials in Salem reported a “troubling trend” of rising COVID-19 cases, about half of which were detected in vaccinated people, according to the city’s Board of Health.

The state Department of Public Health notified Salem officials that 34 new cases have been detected in the last 26 days, according to a message posted on the city’s Facebook page Monday.

“While this number of cases may not seem concerning, the Board of Health views this as a troubling trend as infection rates increase, especially with the rise of the Delta Variant comprising 83% of new infections in the United States,” the message said.

About 60 percent of eligible Salem residents are fully vaccinated, the Board of Health said.


Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.