State says 15 new presumptive positive coronavirus cases in Mass.; total now 28 (March 8)
BOSTON (AP) — The number of people in Massachusetts who have tested positive for the new coronavirus more than doubled on Sunday to 28, up from 13 on Saturday, state public health officials said.
All 15 of the new cases had a direct connection to a meeting of the biotech firm Biogen that was held for company employees at a Boston hotel late last month, the state Department of Public Health said in an emailed statement.
The new cases include eight men and seven women. Most of them live in the greater Boston area. They range in age from in their 30s to 60s. All are in isolation at home.
Of the state’s 28 cases, 23 are associated with the Biogen meeting. Two people in Indiana who have tested positive also attended the Biogen meeting, heath officials in that state said.
Of the 28 Massachusetts cases, only one is confirmed, and the rest are awaiting final confirmation from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus that causes the disease COVID-19 has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide and killed more than 3,400, mostly in China.
The cost of testing and treatment for the coronavirus will be covered by health insurers in Massachusetts, according to the state’s insurance commissioner.
Insurers will verify that eligible residents in the state have access to any necessary testing, counseling, treatment and vaccination related to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Insurance Commissioner Gary Anderson wrote in his directive to insurers Friday.
The announcement means there will be no co-payments for services related to the medical response to the virus, and deductibles will not be applied to them.
A vaccine has not been developed but the directive will apply when one becomes available.
“Coronavirus may impose unique risks to our insurance market that Massachusetts has not faced for at least a generation,” Anderson said.
COVID-19 has flu-like symptoms ranging from mild to severe, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. The CDC advises those who are mildly ill with the virus to stay home and avoid public areas to avoid spreading it.
The state’s insurance division is also requiring insurers to provide dedicated help lines in an effort to answer questions about the virus so people won’t need to visit medical offices.
2 more virus cases in New Hampshire bring total to 4 (March 8)
First Connecticut resident tests positive for coronavirus (March 8)
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The first Connecticut resident has tested positive for coronavirus and is being treated at a Danbury hospital, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Sunday.
The Wilton resident, between 40 and 50 years old, is believed to have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, on a recent trip to California, Lamont’s office said in a statement. “Extensive contact tracing” is being done and anyone who has had direct contact with the patient is being told to self-quarantine at home.
“We have been expecting for some time that a Connecticut resident would become infected with COVID-19, so this should not come as a surprise to anybody,” Lamont said.
The case is considered a “presumptive positive” case until it is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lamont’s office said. Officials said 29 people have had negative tests at the state lab and 8 test results are pending.
Officials said the case is not related to the COVID-19 case of a Danbury Hospital employee who is a New York state resident, nor that of a community physician from New York state who made rounds at Bridgeport Hospital.
Bennington County patient is Vermont’s 1st coronavirus case (March 8)
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont health officials have announced the state’s first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Health Commissioner Mark Levine said Sunday that an adult from Bennington County is in an isolation room at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington. Speaking at a news conference, Levine, Gov. Phil Scott and other state officials declined to release any other information about the patient, citing privacy concerns.
Officials are investigating the patient’s travel and possible exposure history and determining who else may be at risk.
Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 100,000 people and killed more than 3,400, the vast majority of them in China. Most cases have been mild, and more than half of those infected have recovered.
In the U.S. the number of infections has grown to more than 400. Nineteen people have died, all but three of them in Washington state.
Bennington County is southwestern Vermont and borders Massachusetts in New York. In eastern Vermont, health officials are asking people who attended a private party at The Engine Room in White River Junction on Feb. 28 to monitor themselves for symptoms after a New Hampshire man who later tested positive for the virus ignored instructions to stay home and attended the event.
13 in Massachusetts test positive for coronavirus disease (March 8)
BOSTON (AP) — The number of people in Massachusetts who have tested positive for the new coronavirus jumped to 13 on Saturday, up from eight on Friday, state health officials announced.
That includes one confirmed case and 12 presumptive positive cases that are awaiting final confirmation from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The five new cases include four people from Middlesex County: a woman in her 40s, a woman in her 50s, a man in his 40s and a man in his 60s; as well as a man from Berkshire County in his 60s, the state Department of Public Health said in an emailed statement Saturday. No names or hometowns were disclosed.
Of the five new cases, three had a direct connection to recent meeting of the biotech firm Biogen that was held for company employees at Boston’s Marriott Long Wharf Hotel. One had recent international travel that included northern Italy, and the fifth case is still under investigation, officials said.
That brings to eight the number of people who attended the Biogen meeting who have tested positive.
Biogen in a statement said it has asked employees who attended the meeting to self-quarantine.
All other office-based Biogen employees and contractors in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Switzerland are being asked to work from home until further notice.
“We recognize that this is a difficult situation for our colleagues and their loved ones,” the company said in a statement. “We are actively working with all relevant departments of public health and hospitals to prioritize the well-being of the people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.”
The hotel has been working to clean the area where the Biogen meeting took place, city health officials said.
More than 700 Massachusetts residents have been quarantined as a precautionary measure.
Of those quarantined, 470 people have completed monitoring and 249 remain in isolation, according to state health officials.
Five new cases of coronavirus reported, bringing Mass. total to 13 (March 7)
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health added five new cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, to its tally of positive test results.
The additional cases bring the total in Massachusetts to 13. That includes one case that was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 12 others that have been confirmed by the state lab and are awaiting further confirmation by the CDC, according to The Boston Globe.
A DPH spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.
Doctor with link to Connecticut hospital has COVID-19 (March 7)
A doctor from New York with a link to a Connecticut hospital has tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Saturday, reports The Associated Press.
The patient is a community physician who makes rounds at Bridgeport Hospital.
“Bridgeport Hospital officials were in direct communication with the Connecticut Department of Public Health when they were made aware of this positive case,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “The physician did not show signs or symptoms when he worked with patients at Bridgeport Hospital and the risk to staff and patients remains low.”
It’s the second time in as many days that a New York resident who works at a Connecticut hospital tested positive for the virus that causes the disease COVID-19.
The state Department of Public Health confirmed Friday that an employee of Danbury and Norwalk hospitals tested positive for the coronavirus. Officials did not provide the occupation of the woman.
Lamont said Friday that the woman was in self-quarantine in New York’s Westchester County.
There are no confirmed tests among Connecticut residents.
Mass. DPH: There are now 7 presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in the state, 1 confirmed (March 6)
The number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in Massachusetts is now at eight, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Seven of the cases are presumed positive, with one confirmed by the CDC.
During a Friday press conference in Boston, state Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said all eight people are in self-quarantine in their homes where they are recovering.
She said the five new cases in the state, all presumptive positives, are Biogen employees who attended the Cambridge-based biotech company’s recent leadership meeting at the Longwharf Marriott Boston.
Three of the five employees are Boston residents, while two live in Norfolk County, according to health officials. Sudders declined to identify the individuals by the town where they live, but Wellesley school officials announced Friday that a town resident had tested positive for the virus. Wellesley is in Norfolk County.
There are 3 presumptive positive cases of coronavirus disease 2019 in Boston residents. @marty_walsh @MassGovernor @HealthyBoston @MassDPH @HHSBOS giving update now. Watch live on https://t.co/TUqXs1b5Bk pic.twitter.com/ES8WJiAs1k
— Boston Public Health (@HealthyBoston) March 6, 2020
The three other cases in the state are individuals who had recently traveled abroad either in China or Italy.
170 people being monitored for coronavirus in Vermont (March 6)
No one has tested positive for coronavirus yet in Vermont, but state health officials say 170 people are being monitored for the novel virus. As of Thursday, 20 people have completed the 14-day self-quarantine, and five people have tested negative. The CDC is asking anyone who recently traveled to Italy, Iran, South Korea, or China to stay home for 14 days and monitor for symptoms to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“For these new returning travelers, we understand and appreciate that staying at home may be difficult, both mentally and logistically,” Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine said in a statement. “But I can’t emphasize enough how important this is for helping prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.”
MIT issues new policy in response to coronavirus, banning events with more than 150 attendees (March 6)
MIT officials announced a set of new steps and policies related to the coronavirus outbreak Thursday, which include prohibiting on- and off-campus events with more than 150 attendees through May 15. Event organizers must either postpone, cancel, or “virtualize” events with that many expected guests.
“We chose 150 people as a threshold to help reduce risk of transmission without calling a halt to all activity on campus,” the school said in a statement. “However, group size is only one factor to consider in planning an event – and our success in managing the risk of COVID-19 depends not only on the existence of these policies, but on your cooperation and common sense.”
Following advice from state officials, the university is suspending all international travel related to MIT business or programs and is asking community members planning domestic travel to “to weigh whether any domestic travel between now and May 15 is essential and to explore options to join meetings or events remotely.”
Any visitors from countries where there is widespread community transmission of COVID-19 are not allowed on campus until they have completed a 14-day quarantine, the school said.
— Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (@MIT) March 6, 2020
3 Springfield school staffers under self-quarantine after travel to Italy (March 6)
Three employees of Springfield Public Schools are being self-quarantined after recent travel to Italy, MassLive reports. None of them have reported symptoms.
“The district has communicated with the staff and families of schools where a staff member may have reported such travel,” school officials wrote in a letter to the community.
South Shore Medical Center employees self-quarantining after patient tests positive for virus (March 6)
Four employees at South Shore Medical Center who had immediate contact with a patient who tested positive for coronavirus are in self-quarantine, WCVB reports. The medical center told the station the patient had sought urgent care at the facility in Norwell at the end of February.
“It is important to note that the action taken today is a measure of precaution by recommendation of DPH and does not mean these employees will contract the virus,” South Shore Health said in the statement, obtained by WCVB.
Schools in Plymouth, Boston, and Malden close for cleaning amid coronavirus fears (March 6)
Schools in Plymouth, Malden, and Boston announced closures so that school facilities could be disinfected and prevent the spread of the flu and coronavirus.
Plymouth School Superintendent Gary Maestas said all 12 schools and district buses will be cleaned Friday. On Thursday, the superintendent announced that a student, who recently returned from a school trip to Italy, was evaluated late Wednesday at Beth Israel Deaconess Leahy Plymouth for “flu-like” symptoms. The student was sent home after being evaluated and continues to be monitored.
Please be advised: our schools will be CLOSED tomorrow, March 6, 2020. The attached letter from Superintendent, Dr. Maestas has been emailed to our school community. pic.twitter.com/6v2fs9ffpF
— Plymouth Public Schools (@PlymouthSch) March 5, 2020
Boston Prep in Hyde Park is closed for cleaning on Friday, WHDH reports. School officials are deciding on next steps for the 58 students and teachers who traveled to Italy during February vacation, according to the station.
Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden will be closed Wednesday, March 11 through Friday, March 13, according Boston 25 News. The school already had planned days off on Monday and Tuesday. No students have recently traveled to countries experiencing widespread community transmission of the coronavirus.
Massachusetts public health officials announced late Thursday afternoon that a second person has tested positive for the coronavirus since Friday, bringing the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to three. The woman, who’s in her 60s and lives in Middlesex County, had recently traveled to Europe, including northern Italy. She is recovering at home.
The state Department of Public Health said the risk to Massachusetts residents for COVID-19 remains low. Currently, 249 people are undergoing self-quarantine in the state, monitoring for symptoms of the virus.
Three people have tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a meeting with Biogen employees in Boston last week, according to the Cambridge-based biotech company. Two of the individuals reportedly live in the European Union and the third is from outside Massachusetts. Gov. Charlie Baker told the Boston Globe Thursday it appears the third employee is the Tennessee man who recently traveled from Boston’s Logan airport to Nashville and tested positive for the virus.
Cleaning efforts have increased at Logan International Airport in an effort to keep passengers safe from coronavirus, according to a Massport statement.
Massport says it has contracted more cleaning professionals to disinfect “high traffic touch points” at the airport, restrooms are being cleaned on an hourly basis, hand sanitizers have been added, and more.
“Massport is working in coordination with the CDC, our airline partners, building cleaning contractors, and local public health and emergency response organizations, and other stakeholders to keep travel safe for our passengers,” wrote Massport in the statement.
A Tennessee man who has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus recently traveled between Boston’s Logan airport and Nashville, health officials announced Thursday. It is Tennessee’s first case of the virus, known as COVID-19. The Tennessee Department of Health said the man, from the state’s Williamson County, has a mild illness and is isolated at home. He had recently traveled nonstop on a roundtrip flight between Boston and Nashville, officials said, but they did not specify when the trip took place.
CDC team brought in to Rhode Island to help contain outbreak (March 5)
Rhode Island officials announced Thursday the state is undertaking new measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. Among the new measures, a five-person team from the U.S. CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service has been embedded within the state’s Department of Health to help bolster the response to the coronavirus.
“All of the COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island at this point are associated with one trip to Italy. However, because this is an evolving global public health situation, we are putting in place a number of additional preparedness and response initiatives,” Gov. Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “We are taking extensive measures to ensure the health and safety of all Rhode Islanders.”
There have been two positive cases of COVID-19 in Rhode Island related to the Saint Raphael Academy school excursion to Italy, but a third person on the trip, a Massachusetts woman, has also tested positive.
Rhode Island officials are asking anyone who has traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or Japan, where there is widespread community transmission of the virus, in the last 14 days, and going forward, to remain home until they have made it through 14 days symptom-free.
Officials said 17 people have tested negative for the virus in Rhode Island, eight tests are currently pending, and about 200 people remain in self-quarantine, monitoring for symptoms.
Plymouth student who went on Italy trip evaluated for ‘flu-like’ symptoms at hospital, school says (March 5)
A student in the Plymouth Public School system, who recently returned from a school trip to Italy, was evaluated late Wednesday at Beth Israel Deaconess Leahy Plymouth for ‘flu-like’ symptoms, the district announced Thursday. The student was sent home after being evaluated and continues to be monitored, Superintendent of Schools Gary Maestas said in a statement.
“We have been in close contact with our partner school in Milan and as of this morning, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19,” he wrote. “As a precaution, all students and chaperones who traveled to Italy with the high schools have been asked to stay home and self-isolate.”
We are in constant communication w/the Plymouth Board of Health, local and state agencies to help guide us through this situation and will continue to be communicating information as it comes available. Students, families, staff, and our community are always our first priority. pic.twitter.com/aAeDEfAAt1
— Plymouth Public Schools (@PlymouthSch) March 5, 2020
Maine health officials announce testing of about a dozen people for coronavirus (March 5)
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that about a dozen individuals in the state are being tested for coronavirus. Those tests have been sent to a lab at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but officials said Maine will begin testing in the next couple days.
“In response to the expansion of federal criteria, more individuals in Maine are being tested,” officials said in a statement. “Maine CDC has received new testing equipment, and state lab staff are calibrating it and taking other steps to prepare for testing within the next several days.”
Maine has no confirmed cases of COVID-19.
200 people in Rhode Island under self-quarantine, monitoring for coronavirus symptoms (March 5)
Rhode Island health officials said Wednesday about 200 people are being instructed to self-quarantine because they had direct contact with someone with COVID-19. Two people in the state have tested positive for the virus, a man in his 40s and a teenage girl. Both individuals were on the same mid-February school trip to Europe from Saint Raphael Academy. The Massachusetts woman who tested positive for coronavirus, the second case in the Bay State, was also on the trip. The Pawtucket school said Wednesday it would close the campus through March 13 and offer online coursework for students.
“We know that this is unconventional, and we ask for your continued patience and cooperation as we work to safeguard the well-being of the community,” the school said.
Rhode Island officials said tests of 11 other people came back negative. There are tests pending for seven more individuals.
Tewksbury high school students, staff asked to self-quarantine after Italy trip (March 5)
Tewksbury high school students and staff who recently traveled on a school trip to Italy are being ordered to stay home and self-quarantine, officials announced Wednesday. Superintendent of Schools Chris Malone said the measure is being taken based on updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that anyone who recently traveled to Italy stay home and monitor for symptoms of the coronavirus for 14 days after returning to the U.S.
“In addition, we were informed today by the [Massachusetts Department of Public Health] that there is likely a passenger, not related to our school trip, with a ‘presumptive case of COVID-19’, on the same flight from Munich as our trip,” Malone wrote to the school community.
The students and staff will be allowed to return to school on March 9.
When the first person to test positive in New Hampshire for COVID-19 had showed possible signs of the virus, state officials say they told him to self-quarantine. Instead, he attended an invitation-only, private event — a mixer for doctors and Dartmouth College students — at The Engine Room in White River Junction, Vermont, on Feb. 28. Days later the test for the employee of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center came back positive. WHDH reports the handful of guests from that event have been asked to self-quarantine.
A second case of the virus, who had “close contact” with the first patient, was announced Tuesday in New Hampshire.
Boston City Council to hold hearing on local preparedness, facts of coronavirus
Boston city councilors Wednesday called for a hearing focused on the city’s preparedness to handle and gathering information about the evolving novel coronavirus. “We are watching a pandemic unfold in real time, and it’s important … as local officials not to create a false panic but recognize the enormity of this global pandemic that is happening,” Councilor Matt O’Malley said. The aim is to allow the public to have its questions answered and to collect facts from experts that city officials can then disseminate to residents, he said. “We have to make sure people are armed first and foremost with knowing what to do in a way that is accurate and a way that is empowering,” Councilor Michelle Wu said. The council also passed a resolution expressing “support and empathy for the Chinese and Asian communities” in the city, who officials say have faced reinvigorated discrimination and racism in the wake of the virus outbreak.
Massachusetts officials urged high schools, colleges, and universities to cancel upcoming plans for student abroad trips — one of several precautionary efforts detailed at a Wednesday State House press conference. “Taking this precaution will help protect both the students and the commonwealth,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. According to General Manager Steve Poftak, the MBTA will be “ramping up” its disinfecting protocols this week. The agency will disinfect “every vehicle, every day” as well as surfaces in its stations on a four-hour basis, he said.
Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker meeting with leaders to discuss coronavirus preparations
Gov. Charlie Baker will meet with first responders, transportation leaders, and hospital officials Wednesday at the Statehouse to discuss planning for the coronavirus in the state, WCVB reports. Two people in the Bay State have tested positive for the virus, and health officials have said the risk to state residents remains low.
Cohasset first responders adjusting protocols due to coronavirus concern
Police officers and firefighters in Cohasset are changing protocols when responding to specific calls out of concerns over COVID-19, WCVB reports. The first responders, when arriving for calls where a patient is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, will wait for paramedics to arrive before going into the home. Town Manager Christopher Senior told the station the new measure aims to prevent the potential quarantine of police officers or firefighters. Town officials were notified Monday by the state health officials that a person in Cohasset is under home quarantine for potential exposure to coronavirus, according to WCVB.
Boston’s Seafood Expo North America postponed over coronavirus fears
Organizers of the seafood trade show, scheduled for March 15-17, said Tuesday that postponing the event was “unavoidable,” the Boston Globe reports. The company behind the event says it will try and reschedule the expo, which was expected to draw around 18,000 attendees to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, for sometime this year.
Health officials announced Tuesday that a second resident, a man from Grafton County, has tested positive for the novel virus and is being quarantined at his home. The man had been in close contact with the first individual to test positive for the virus. Both individuals are employees at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and test results in both presumptive positive cases have been sent for confirmation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Woman from Norfolk County, Mass., tests positive for coronavirus
Massachusetts health officials announced late Monday that a Norfolk County woman in her 20s has tested positive for the new virus. She had recently traveled to Italy with a school group and was exhibiting symptoms, but she is recovering at home. Officials said the woman’s results will be sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation. If confirmed, hers would be the second confirmed case of coronavirus in Massachusetts. Officials said the risk to the public for coronavirus remains low.
Cohasset resident in home quarantine
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has home quarantined a resident of Cohasset due to “close contact” with a person suffering from the novel coronavirus, according to the Cohasset Police Department. “We are closely monitoring this situation and remain in contact with our state and federal partners,” Cohasset Police wrote on Twitter Monday afternoon.
A New Hampshire hospital system employee, who had recently traveled to Italy, has tested positive for the novel virus, officials announced Monday. The person is experiencing mild symptoms and remains at their home in Grafton County.
Newton students, staff chaperones returning from Italy trip asked to stay home
Nineteen students and the two staff chaperones who recently returned from a school trip to Italy are being ordered to stay home as officials monitor for the coronavirus, the Boston Globe reports.
Bellingham students back from school trip to Italy told to stay home
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced Sunday that a fourth person in the state is being tested for coronavirus. So far there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in New Hampshire.
Thirty-five students from Kearsarge Regional High School who traveled to Italy, France, and the United Kingdom during February vacation are staying home “out of an abundance of caution.” None of the students have shown symptoms of the virus.
A third person who went on the trip to Italy in mid-February is undergoing tests. Saint Raphael Academy, a Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Catholic high school said all students and chaperones who were on the trip are being self-quarantined.