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Provincetown COVID-19 cluster rises to 833 cases

Dave Ehlers, left, of South Amityville, NY, gets a COVID-19 test at a popup clinic in Provincetown.
Dave Ehlers, left, of South Amityville, NY, gets a COVID-19 test at a popup clinic in Provincetown.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

The COVID-19 cluster in Provincetown that first emerged earlier this month has spiked to 833 cases, Town Manager Alex Morse said Wednesday.

Morse confirmed the updated tally in a Facebook posting. It was an increase of 68 cases from the prior day.

Of the 833 cases confirmed as of Wednesday, Morse wrote, “501 are Massachusetts residents, 210 of which reside in Provincetown.” He said seven hospitalizations to date have been associated with the cluster.

“It is important to note that the case data are cumulative and do not represent the number of people with active cases of COVID-19, or the number of cases currently hospitalized,” Morse wrote, adding that of the 210 cases identified among town residents since July 1, half had been released from isolation as of Tuesday.

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Those releases, he said, are “consistent with the timeframes associated with the virus’ incubation and infectious periods and Department of Public Health guidance on isolation.”

He also urged people to get tested.

“Testing is the best way for health officials to gauge the impact of a cluster and the success of measures that are being taken to reduce viral spread,” Morse wrote.

In addition, Morse cited a silver lining to the troubling news about the cluster: the town’s positivity rate is trending in the right direction.

“The test positivity rate ... [has] improved since surveillance of the Provincetown cluster began, from a peak of 15% on July 15th to a new low of 5.9% reported on July 27th,” Morse wrote. He said a positivity rate of less than 5 percent is considered “progress towards cluster containment,” while a positivity rate of less than 1 percent would mean the cluster’s contained.

The town, a popular summer tourist destination, 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.

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Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.