Thousands of people are descending on the Province, from bars to hotels, to prevent monkeypox.

Instead of plastering the city with posters, local leaders have opted for a simpler, more modest approach, saying they learned from the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and, more recently, last summer’s Delta COVID outbreak. Negotiations will be more powerful and effective.

“The beauty of face-to-face communication is that you can pick up on the nuances,” said Dan Gates, president of the Cape Cod AIDS Support Group.

Memories are still fresh since last July 4, when thousands of pilgrims flocked to the Province after federal health officials instructed that such celebrations, even indoors and without masks, were safe for fully vaccinated people. However, whistleblowers soon learned that the first known major outbreak of COVID-19 had occurred among a group of people who had unknowingly been heavily vaccinated. More than 1,000 in Massachusetts alone infected.

A commercial street in the Province in the weeks following the outbreak of COVID-19 last summer.Craig F. Walker/Globe staff

Those memories still linger, and Gates said a higher percentage of people in stores in Provincetown than in other cities continue to wear masks.

“But the good news is that the idea of ​​controlling how you feel with MPV and COVID has something in common,” he said. “And that’s a very important part of prevention in the community.”

State health officials have counted at least 21 cases of monkeypox, including eight in the past week. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports at least 390 cases of monkeypox, primarily among men who have sex with men, from 29 states and the District of Columbia.

The current global outbreak, first identified in May, has reached more than 5,300 confirmed cases in 52 countries and territories. The disease is rare outside of endemic West and Central Africa.

Monkey pox, a virus that often starts as a flu-like illness, can develop into a rash with pimples or blisters. It is contagious and is spread by direct contact with body fluids, such as kissing, monkeypox sores, or touching objects contaminated with fluid from sores, such as clothing or bedding, and less commonly by respiratory droplets. after a long period of close contact.

Although the global epidemic mostly involves men who have sex with men, it is not considered a sexually transmitted disease. And Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said on Wednesday that he was concerned about the growing and persistent infection because, “this virus is establishing itself and it suggests that high-risk groups, including children, may have reduced immunity” , and pregnant women. We’re starting to see this in a few children who have already been infected.”

After the first case of monkeypox in the United States was reported in Massachusetts in mid-May, the province’s community and health leaders began developing an education and prevention strategy. Over the past two weeks, they’ve held several in-person and virtual sessions with state health professionals educating local “ambassadors,” including many hospitality workers, about the virus.

“The best ambassadors are the bartenders and waiters who interact with our guests every day, many of whom are gay and bisexual men,” said state Sen. Julian Sayre, a Truro Democrat who represents Provincetown and spends most of his time there.

“Our community has a rich history of not panicking and knowing how to deal with and live with an infectious disease,” he said.

Last summer’s COVID-19 outbreak may have been a super-spreader event, spreading infections across the country. But communities and local public health leaders responded quickly to reports of people suddenly feeling unwell after the holiday, stepping up testing, contact tracing and at-home mask rules to stop further spread in Massachusetts, and racing to alert health authorities in other states. .

Ambassadors are now explaining to visitors that monkey disease can cause severe economic damage to individuals and communities. Infected people must be isolated until their wounds heal, and that can take up to four weeks — a long time to lose jobs or staff.

Local leaders have launched a campaign against monkey disease in the province as thousands descend on the city over the festive season. Cape Cod AIDS Support Group

On Tuesday, the Biden administration said it was immediately sending 56,000 doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine to the states with the most cases and populations most at risk. Another 240,000 doses will arrive in the coming weeks and an additional 1.6 million doses over the next few months. Massachusetts has the sixth highest number of cases in the United States.

Federal regulators have also expanded vaccine eligibility criteria. Previously, only people with confirmed cases of monkeypox were eligible. The category now includes those who are believed to have contracted the virus through close physical contact with a person diagnosed with the disease, or men who have had sex with men who have recently had multiple sexual partners or where there is monkeypox. area where monkey disease is spreading.

Late Friday, the Biden administration said it had shipped or was in the process of shipping a total of 31,500 doses to 18 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, including 2,004 doses allocated to Massachusetts.

If given after exposure, it is believed to be most effective within 4-14 days.

“Time is of the essence,” said Dr. Kenneth Mayer, an infectious disease specialist and director of medical research at Fenway Health in Boston, which treats many gay and bisexual patients.

Mayer said the state needs to quickly come up with reasonable criteria to help doctors determine who is at greatest risk, so there is consistency in who is recommended for the shot. The vaccine is a series of two shots given four weeks apart.

Health officials are racing to build a vaccination system, and tourists are flooding the Province with a sense of déjà vu.

Rob Anderson, owner of The Canteen, said he could hear the luggage on busy Commercial Street every hour as guests disembarked from the ferry.

“Provincetown has shown, and the LGBT community has shown last year, that we take it seriously when we know there’s an outbreak,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to a normal weekend,” Anderson added. “Maybe we’re letting our guard down, maybe it’s good, maybe it’s not – we’ll just have to find out.”

Kay Lazar can be reached at @GlobeKayLazar. Kate Selig can be reached at

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