If You Traveled Here Recently, Get Tested for COVID—Even If You're Vaccinated
Visitors to this popular summer destination are at risk of infection following a cluster of cases.
If you've gotten your COVID vaccination, there's a good chance you haven't thought about getting tested for the virus in a while. Since the vaccines approved for use in the U.S. have high efficacy rates, the potential for breakthrough cases is pretty low—but not impossible. Recently, a cluster of COVID cases was tracked to one popular travel destination, with the majority of the infected people having been fully vaccinated.
On July 20, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) released a statement saying that at least 35 COVID cases in Boston residents have been traced to a cluster in Provincetown, the northern tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The statement noted that the "overwhelming majority" of the infected people were fully vaccinated.
NBC reported that as of July 16, there were at least 132 confirmed cases of COVID linked to the cluster throughout Massachusetts. Officials tell NBC that the cases are likely connected to the Fourth of July celebrations that took place at the popular summer destination.
The BPHC has advised that Boston residents who traveled to Provincetown since July 1 get tested for COVID at least five days after their return, regardless of whether or not they're vaccinated or show symptoms. The commission also advised that these people self-isolate and avoid groups or gatherings for at least five days and until they receive a negative COVID test. People outside of Boston who traveled to Provincetown on July 1 or after should also heed this warning from the BPHC.
Local officials told the Associated Press that more than 90 percent of those infected from the cluster were men, with their median age being 35. "I think this last week and since July 4 is just a reminder to us that yes, COVID is still here," Barnstable County Chief Health Officer Sean O'Brien told the AP.
Following the cluster of cases, officials created a mask advisory. Per NBC, during an emergency meeting on July 19, the Board of Health voted to advise people to wear masks while indoors even if they're vaccinated. Janet Whelan, MD, a member of the Provincetown Board of Health, felt that the board should have been even more stringent.
"I have to say I'm a little disappointed that we haven't taken a stronger stand on this. Rather than just advising, we should require masks," Whelan told NBC. "The most interesting thing to me about this cluster of cases is so many of the people infected were vaccinated, which sort of means that a lot of the people that are vaccinated who are exposed to it may feel safe, but may also transmit it to others."