Health officials said Tuesday that at least 35 COVID-19 cases in Boston residents have been traced to the recent cluster in Provincetown.
The Boston Public Health Commission issued new guidance urging all residents who have traveled to Provincetown since July 1 and until further notice to get tested for COVID at least five days after their return, regardless of vaccination status or symptoms.
They are also being asked to self-isolate and avoid groups or gatherings for at least five days and until they receive a negative COVID test, again regardless of vaccination status.
"As we learn more about this cluster and how to live with COVID-19 circulating in our communities, BPHC asks all residents to take these additional precautions to help identify COVID-19 infections rapidly, prevent additional spread, and protect vulnerable members of our communities," the agency said in a statement. "Please help the City of Boston control the spread and encourage others to get vaccinated and tested."
While many of Provincetown's cluster cases have been in vaccinated people, an infectious disease doctor at Boston Medical Center insists vaccine confidence shouldn't be shaken.
“These vaccines really work and when we’re able to identify people early we can sort of bring down the clusters and maybe make it into not a deadly illness but something more benign so that we can all get back to our lives,” Dr. Sabrina Assoumou said.
Assoumou says COVID testing is crucial right now.
“This is going to be really critical because we’re at a point where in Massachusetts where the cases are low enough that we can really use those public health measures of identifying cases,” she said.
Avoiding groups until receiving a negative COVID test is also important, according to Assoumou.
“Isolate so that they don’t transmit the virus so that we can end that cluster as soon as possible before it spreads amongst people who are not vaccinated,” she said.
Officials in Provincetown, a popular Cape Cod tourist town, issued a new mask-wearing advisory on Monday after over 130 people tested positive following the Fourth of July holiday.
The public health advisory from Provincetown officials encourages residents and visitors to the town, a popular LGBTQ+ summer destination, to resume wearing masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. It also urges crowded venues and other businesses where social distancing isn't possible to verify that patrons are vaccinated.
The advisory was approved during an emergency meeting Monday with the town’s select board and board of health.
Dr. Catherine Brown, of the state Department of Public Health, said the state has alerted other jurisdictions about the cluster of cases tied to Provincetown.
Local officials said the majority are Massachusetts residents but more than 40 are from out of state. They said more 90% of those infected were men and that their median age is 35. Officials said they're also investigating how many of those infected were already vaccinated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.