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  • Ryan Wittler

The “Provincetown Cluster” Everyone Is Talking About


Cape Cod Times


This week, the news is awash with another small town thrust into the spotlight for a less than desirable reason. In the case of Provincetown, Massachusetts, it’s an outbreak of COVID that brought it to the forefront.


What happened?


Last Friday, the CDC released a study of an outbreak that started in the town on July 3 that eventually led to 469 cases, 74% of which were among fully vaccinated people.


The CDC also found that there was no “significant difference” in the viral load present in breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated people and other cases, suggesting vaccinated people that get infected can spread the Delta variant.


Important stuff:


The good news is that the outbreak shows vaccines work, even against the more deadly Delta variant. According to the town manager of Provincetown, of the some 900 cases now associated with the outbreak, “there have been no deaths, [seven] hospitalizations, and the symptoms are largely mild.”


It’s also important to note that while Provincetown itself has a very high vaccination rate, with more than 95% of permanent residents fully vaccinated by early July, an estimated 60,000 people visited the town the weekend of the outbreak, and the vaccination status of the visitors is obviously unknown.


The key finding of the outbreak is that fully vaccinated people who get infected may carry a similar viral load as non-vaccinated infected people, meaning, the vaccines likely don't prevent spread. However, again, they do prevent hospitalizations and deaths.


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