WELLFLEET — There were no positive Covid-19 tests among the 987 people tested in Provincetown and Wellfleet during a two-day period in June, the Independent has learned. The tests, administered to 538 people in Provincetown and 449 in Wellfleet on June 17 and 18 at Outer Cape Health Services, followed large gatherings sparked by the Black Lives Matters movement. They were ordered by the state Dept. of Public Health to see if the virus had spread as a result of the rallies.
OCHS also tested 1,255 people in Harwich, according to Gerry Desautels, a communications officer. Seven of those tested positive, according to a source at the state DPH.
At the same time, it has been hard to find and confirm accurate information about test results in a timely and useful fashion.
A week after the June tests, health agents in Truro and Wellfleet told their respective select boards that no positive cases had been reported. Provincetown’s health dept. also received no notice of a positive test, said Morgan Clark, the director of health and environment. And since the number of positive cases listed on Eastham’s website has remained at 10 for several weeks, it appears that no Eastham residents tested positive, either. This means no one who has an Outer Cape zip code tested positive on June 17 and 18.
This does not, however, inform the public about those who may have been visiting here but returned home after being tested. The state DPH sends notice of positive tests to the patient’s town health dept.; the reports go to the town of residence, not the test location.
This gap in the flow of information should be addressed by careful contact tracing, said state Sen. Julian Cyr of Truro, who is on the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force.
Outer Cape Health Services refused to release the full results of the tests. The Independent was able to get them from a DPH spokesperson.
The seven positive tests out of 2,242 at the three OCHS sites combined equals a rate of 0.3 percent, considerably lower than the statewide positive rate during that time. Gov. Baker at first announced that statewide positive rate for those two testing days was 2.5 percent of the 16,526 people tested. This figure was later lowered to 1.3 percent, according to the Boston Globe.
Hillary Greenberg-Lemos, the Wellfleet health and conservation agent, told the select board that 122 Wellfleet residents were among those tested. None of the other town health agents, nor Outer Cape Health, would provide corresponding information.
Contact tracing would notify anyone who had been in contact with a positive person within 14 days, said Cyr. It’s a system that works well in Massachusetts but may not be as well executed in other states.
The biggest problem in testing remains the time it takes to receive results, Cyr said. Results take a week because of the demand. New Cape Cod cases were averaging four to five a day, but recently have increased to 9 or 10 a day, Cyr added.