The ongoing pandemic will leave many children in Massachusetts wanting for food. The need will be keenly felt in Barnstable County.
During a news conference Thursday, September 24, Senator Julian A. Cyr (D-Truro) said the Greater Boston Food Bank has projected that one in eight people in Eastern Massachusetts will experience food insecurity—not knowing where their next meal is coming from—before the end of the year because of COVID-19. This is an increase of 59 percent over last year.
Barnstable, Nantucket, Norfolk and Plymouth counties were identified as being the hardest hit with projected food insecurity rates increasing by more than 70 percent.
As a result of the pandemic, people in the state have been faced with job loss and might be facing food insecurity for the first time. Help is available for families in need, including at the Family Pantry of Cape Cod in Harwich, the Falmouth Service Center and food pantries in Bourne, Mashpee and Sandwich.
Christine Menard of the Family Pantry said everyone is welcome and they are open for curbside pickup. Weekly shopping lists are available on their website and can be given to a volunteer who will shop and bring the food to the car.
Restaurant Restrictions Relaxed
This week, even as COVID-19 cases continue to rise at a slow and steady pace in Massachusetts, Governor Charles D. Baker Jr. announced some restaurant restrictions will be relaxed starting next week.
At a news conference held on Wednesday, September 23, the governor said, starting Monday, September 21, restaurants in the state will be able to seat tables of 10 people. The previous restriction was six.
Additionally, while bars will continue to remain closed, Gov. Baker said bar spaces can be used for food service as long as social distancing guidelines continue to be enforced. Guests will continue to be required to order food in addition to their drinks.
The City of Boston will not be increasing the number of customers per table, Mayor Marty Walsh has said.
The Baker administration has put some pressure on 16 school districts across the state to start bringing students into the buildings. These communities have been consistently low-risk and have opened the school year with remote models.
Two Cape Cod districts are among those that have been singled out by the governor and Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley: Bourne and Provincetown.
Before the state pressure, the Bourne Public Schools had a plan for its high-needs students to return to in-person instruction next week. On Wednesday, the district announced the remaining school population will be brought back into the buildings before the end of October.
Provincetown has planned for a phased reopening with a remote start through the end of September due to the town being a busy tourist spot. The district’s reopening plan states the delayed start will allow families to self-quarantine for two weeks after the tourist season ends.
New Virus Cases
On Cape Cod, a total of 35 new cases of the disease have been identified in the past week, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Barnstable County to 1,728. The Barnstable County Department of Human Services has indicated that 229 additional probable cases have been identified on the Cape.
Four people are hospitalized at Cape Cod Hospital with the disease, one of whom is in intensive care. Falmouth Hospital has no COVID-19 patients.
In the past two weeks, Bourne has had a total of 180 cases with six positive tests, Falmouth has had 265 cases with 15 positive tests, Mashpee has had 83 cases with five positive tests and Sandwich has had 109 cases with one positive test. With the exception of Falmouth, each of the towns has five or fewer active cases. Falmouth has 12, according the the state health department.
Across the state, the average age for a person hospitalized with the disease is 63, while the average age of a person contracting the illness is 37. The majority of people who have been diagnosed in the past two weeks have been in their 20s, though the same age group accounts for 1 percent of the hospitalizations in the past two weeks.
Testing has been conducted among staff and students at higher-education facilities as part of their reopening plans. A total of 629 cases have been identified at higher-education institutions, 130 of which were identified in the past week.