No monkeypox cases reported in Wareham; covid-19 testing data harder to come by
No monkeypox cases have been reported in town as of Aug. 16, Director of Public Health Patrick MacDonald said on Tuesday.
Beyond Wareham, 202 cases of monkeypox have been reported throughout the state since the first case was announced on May 18, according to the state’s health department. The World Health Organization declared a public health emergency because of the global monkeypox outbreak on July 4.
“Gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men continue to make up a significant proportion of the cases identified to date,” the state’s health department said in an Aug. 11 press release. “However, the risk is not limited to the LGBTQ+ community, and anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.
Monkeypox is a virus that transmits through direct contact with body fluids and monkeypox sores, by touching items contaminated with fluids or sores and sometimes through respiratory droplets following extended face-to-face contact, per the state.
The Department of Public Health clarified that monkeypox does not spread through casual conversations or walking past someone with the virus.
Vaccines for monkeypox are available by appointment at several health-care sites throughout the state, including at Seven Hills Behavioral Health in New Bedford. To be eligible for the vaccine, residents must live or work in Massachusetts and have a known contact who is infected or have presumed contact with a sexual partner who has been diagnosed with the virus in the past two weeks.
More guidance on the virus, vaccine eligibility and health-care information is available at www.mass.gov/monkeypox.
Covid-19 cases continue, no reported uptick in deaths
Wareham reported 51 new covid-19 cases in the past two weeks, according to the state’s covid-19 data dashboard on Tuesday.
MacDonald said there hasn’t been a reported uptick in local hospitalizations and deaths recently, but the data on local case counts is a little more fuzzy. As at-home tests have become more available and residents don’t have to go to their local health departments to get tested, the health department receives less information on who’s testing positive when.
“There’s no reporting for them,” MacDonald said, though he added that sometimes when residents report their positive test to primary care physicians, the health department may be notified of a case.
At-home tests for covid-19 are available commercially at pharmacies and at the health department in town hall. MacDonald said the demand has been steady for tests from the department, but now that they’re more available in stores, it’s often more convenient for residents to pick up tests with the rest of their groceries.