Cape Cod touting itself as ‘safe destination’

Coronavirus Local Impact

FILE – In this March 28, 2018, file photo, a North Atlantic right whale breaches the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass. Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team holds its meeting in Providence, R.I., beginning Tuesday, April 23, 2019, seeking solutions to save one of the rarest species of marine mammals, numbering about 400. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

BOSTON (SHNS) – Describing the region’s public health outlook as “excellent,” Cape Cod officials are optimistic that high vaccination rates and low case numbers will contribute to a robust summer tourism season.

The Cape Cod COVID-19 Response Task Force set a goal to have three-quarters of the area population at least partially vaccinated by Memorial Day, Sen. Julian Cyr said during the task force’s Thursday conference call with reporters.

In the Department of Public Health’s April 22 report, 59 percent of Cape Codders had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 41 percent were fully vaccinated, Cyr said. That leaves another 16 percent of the population that local officials want to reach for at least their first doses in the next four weeks. Getting there “is going to be harder in many ways than what we’ve had previously,” Cyr said, noting that about 17 percent of the region’s residents are children or teenagers who do not qualify for the vaccine and that some adults are still hesitant about receiving the shots.

Still, he said the region is in a “much stronger position” than he expected approaching the second peak tourist season in the pandemic era. “The Cape and the islands are in a very strong position, and I believe are well prepared to be a safe destination — perhaps among the safest tourist regions in the nation — for tourists and workers for the upcoming season,” Cyr said. “Cape Cod is leading the commonwealth in vaccination rates, and Massachusetts is really among the leading states in vaccination rates.”

Barnstable County Department of Human Services Interim Director Vaira Harik said the latest COVID-19 data in the region “looks excellent,” saying the county had 20 additional cases reported Wednesday in a contrast from significantly higher totals earlier this month.

“We are well, well off the highs that we saw in this third wave in early March,” Harik said. “Fatalities are also very low and hospitalizations as well, mostly as a consequence of vaccination success amongst people most susceptible to hospitalization and death from COVID, which are seniors. So we are feeling good about where we are in the third wave at this time.”

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