Live updates: The latest coronavirus news from around New England
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott orders all schools to close by Wednesday (March 15)
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m announcing a Continuity of Education Plan for the orderly dismissal of all schools, and cancellation of all school related activities, no later than Wednesday, March 18. More details here: https://t.co/Vzir0y9aID
— Governor Phil Scott (@GovPhilScott) March 15, 2020
Mass. coronavirus cases increase by 26, now 164 total (March 15)
As of Sunday morning, 799 patients in Mass. had been tested for the coronavirus by the state
The following is a statement from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health:
BOSTON — As of 10:45 a.m. Sunday, March 15th, 799 patients had been tested by the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory, up from the 475 people tested that Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders shared at the March 14th press conference.
The Department of Public Health has implemented the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance on clinical testing protocols, which means clinicians are required to only submit one nasal swab, rather than the previous requirement to submit both nasal and throat swabs. With this change in clinical testing protocols, the State Lab’s testing capacity will increase to approximately 400 patients a day, up from 200 patients a day.
In addition, in Massachusetts, clinicians now have more flexibility to determine which patients should be tested without having to call DPH’s Epi Line.
With national labs now being approved by the FDA to conduct testing, clinicians can submit specimens for testing directly to these labs. This change will enable more people to be tested and for more tests to be conducted. With more clinical labs in Massachusetts working to get FDA approval, even more testing capacity will be coming online soon.
Gov. Sununu orders New Hampshire schools to switch to remote classes for 3 weeks (March 15)
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu issued an emergency order Sunday mandating that all public, K-12 school districts switch to remote instruction through April 3, starting Monday.
In a tweet, Sununu said most districts are already prepared for the move, but the order gives school systems one week to fully transition.
“The Department of Education stands ready to assist all schools in bringing these efforts up to speed so that the education of our children in New Hampshire will not be disrupted,” he wrote.
THREAD: Today I am directing all schools in New Hampshire to transition to remote learning effectively immediately. pic.twitter.com/VZwkEZjnld
— Chris Sununu (@GovChrisSununu) March 15, 2020
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered all public schools to close for one week starting Monday. Schools in Massachusetts have so far closed on a district-by-district basis.
Brigham and Women’s health care worker infected with coronavirus, hospital says (March 15)
The following is a statement from Brigham and Women’s Hospital:
As the novel coronavirus spreads across the globe, it is inevitable that health care workers will be infected, as is now the case at the Brigham. We are in the process of contacting patients and staff who may have been exposed.
We have been in close contact with the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health and the Boston Public Health Commission and we will continue to follow their and CDC’s guidance, as well as the advice of our own infectious diseases experts as the situation continues to evolve.
The Brigham Health community has been preparing for this eventuality and has taken every precaution to protect our patients, their loved ones and our staff during this unprecedented pandemic.
We will not be making any additional information available to media.
Mass. health officials release new coronavirus numbers; now 138 total cases, up 15 from Friday (March 14)
3 new positive cases of coronavirus in Vermont, bringing total to 5 (March 14)
Vermont health officials said Saturday the number of coronavirus cases in the state has risen to five, with three new cases since Friday.
“The first is a Windsor County male in his 90’s,” officials wrote in a statement. “He is hospitalized at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in White River Junction, Vermont. The second is a Washington County male in his 50’s. He was initially treated at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, Vermont. He is currently in home isolation, following CVMC’s home care protocols. The third new presumptive positive case is also a male in his 50’s. He is a resident of Westchester County, New York and is receiving care at Springfield Hospital in Springfield, Vermont.”
There are three new presumptive positive cases in Vermont of the new #coronavirus #Covid_19. Important for all to stay informed and monitor your health. Go to healthvermont(dot)gov for guidance & info. https://t.co/sMzgpijIOB
— VT Dept of Health (@healthvermont) March 14, 2020
There are now 12 cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut, 20 in Rhode Island (March 14)
Twelve people in Connecticut have tested positive for coronavirus. State officials announced late Friday afternoon that 136 people have been tested, with 11 testing positive. Later Friday night, Hartford officials announced the city’s first case, bringing the state’s total up to 12.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced during a Saturday press conference that the state has six new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 20, up from 14 documented on Friday.
Mass. Gaming Commission suspends operations at Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino (March 14)
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission unanimously voted Saturday to temporarily suspend operation at the state’s three casino properties — Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino.
“As we all continue to navigate this unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation, our agency and our licensees will remain in close consultation with public health authorities and government officials to determine safe protocols for resuming operation,” the commission said in a statement. “As we develop the appropriate course of action, we will keep you informed of next steps. This decision will be re-assessed in two weeks, while an orderly shutdown process is actively underway. It is anticipated that the gaming floor will close to patrons at 5:59 a.m. on March 15, 2020.”
VOTE: Commissioners have voted unanimously to a temporary suspension of operations at @EncoreResortBH , @MGMSpringfield and @PlainridgePark. An expeditious and orderly shutdown process is underway. This decision will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Additional details to follow. pic.twitter.com/R4w9okXbVw
— MA Gaming Commission (@MassGamingComm) March 14, 2020
Gov. Charlie Baker launches command center for COVID-19 response (March 14)
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Saturday he is creating a new command center to lead the state’s response to the coronavirus. Baker said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders will serve as the head of the COVID-19 Response Command Center, reporting to the governor, and will have “complete authority and discretion to tap whatever state funds are necessary” to battle the virus outbreak.
“This team of experts will focus solely on pushing back against this disease and moving quickly to respond to the needs of our communities and residents,” Baker said.
The cross-agency representatives in the center will focus on the following, according to Baker:
Working to expand lab capacity for testing
Planning quarantine operations
Coordinating communication and guidance across government
Responding to the needs of our local boards of health
Monitoring supply chains
Identifying surge capacity in the commonwealth’s health network.
During a press conference, Sudders said one of the center’s main priorities is to expand the state’s capacity for testing. Changes were made recently to Department of Public Health protocols in order to speed up and increase testing following the loosening of federal guidance for testing, she said.
Before the change Friday, doctors were only allowed to test patients who were showing symptoms, like fever and respiratory issues, and only if they either traveled recently to a country where there were high levels of the disease, like Italy, or if the individual had been in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19. And then, clinicians were required to get permission from the state’s health department before submitting specimens for testing,
Sudders said the change in protocols no longer require clinicians to get approval from the state lab for testing in the state lab, and they can submit one swab rather than the previously required two.
The parameters for who can be tested has also been broadened.
“It really is a significant improvement,” she said.
Sudders said it remains “critical” that more labs get federal approvals to expand testing capacity in the state. A third independent lab has received approval from the FDA to process tests, but Baker said he remains concerned by the slowness at the federal level to grant labs permissions to test for the novel illness.
“We have a long way to go on this,” he said of the response to date.
Sudders said that as of Friday, the state lab has tested 475 patients since the outbreak in Massachusetts began. Ten people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and 123 people have been diagnosed as of Saturday morning.
9 new cases in Rhode Island, both Vermont and New Hampshire declare states of emergency (March 14)
Rhode Island officials announced Friday that there are nine new cases of COVID-19 in the state, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the novel virus to 14. Officials said three of the new positives are pediatric cases and six are adults.
“While the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is still investigating each of these cases, we know that four unrelated trips were involved: travel to Europe, travel to the Bahamas, travel to Jamaica, and regional travel (to Massachusetts),” officials said in a statement. “All of these people are recovering at home, except for one person who is recovering in their nursing home. This person is in isolation there. Staff are using appropriate personal protective measures and strict infection control measures.”
Both New Hampshire and Vermont declared states of emergency on Friday.
At this time, there remains a low risk to New Hampshire for COVID-19. We know there is no evidence to suggest that there is widespread community transmission. This declaration will allow the state to remain on top of this rapidly evolving situation. (2/4)
— Chris Sununu (@GovChrisSununu) March 13, 2020
The State’s Emergency Operations Center has been activated, along with the 211NH hotline. Individuals with questions related to COVID-19, or who think they may be exhibiting symptoms, can dial 2-1-1. (4/4)
— Chris Sununu (@GovChrisSununu) March 13, 2020
Last night @GovPhilScott asked #Vermonters to help protect people most vulnerable to #coronavirus. Read the declaration https://t.co/9GXqH3tRio and take care of each other
— VT Dept of Health (@healthvermont) March 14, 2020
There are two positive cases of COVID-19 in Vermont. New Hampshire officials announced late Friday a seventh person has been diagnosed with coronavirus, a woman from Rockingham County who visited the Manchester DMV last week.
Tonight, NH DHHS announced a 7th presumptive positive case of #COVIDー19 in New Hampshire. Full release below: pic.twitter.com/s9dDRH2UhL
— Chris Sununu (@GovChrisSununu) March 14, 2020
Harvard University announces 1st case of coronavirus, 2 others undergoing testing (March 14)
Harvard announced late Friday that a member of the university community has tested positive for COVID-19 and two others are undergoing testing.
“One individual received a presumptive positive test and is receiving medical care off campus,” Harvard President Larry Bacow said in a statement. “We await test results for the second individual. Additionally, a third individual who had close contact with the person who tested positive, is now being tested. Additional close contacts will be tested as needed.”
We recently announced that two members of our community were being tested for COVID-19. One individual received a presumptive positive test and is receiving medical care off campus. We await test results for the second individual. Read our full message. https://t.co/Y4BNCkFFGe
— Harvard University (@Harvard) March 13, 2020
Bacow said allowing the individuals involved anonymity is “paramount.”
“If you are aware of their identities, please respect their privacy so that they can focus completely on their health,” he wrote. “The last thing they need—or any of us would want for them—is public attention and scrutiny. We will do everything we can to support these individuals through what is undoubtedly a disconcerting and difficult time.”
Boston Public Schools to close Tuesday, would reopen April 27 under current plan, mayor says
The #coronavirus is a serious public health emergency. The @CityofBoston has been taking aggressive action to stay on top of it, and keep people healthy and safe.
This situation is truly day-to-day and we’re making sure that every step we take is clearly thought out.
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) March 13, 2020
Starting Tuesday, March 17, we are closing all @BostonSchools to students. This is out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we are taking action to protect our students, our families, and our teachers.
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) March 13, 2020
Although there is no evidence showing that anyone in the @BostonSchools community has the #coronavirus, we are acting early and with urgency to ensure the health and safety of the community.
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) March 13, 2020
All Boston Public Schools will be open Monday, March 16.
With the #coronavirus situation evolving by the hour, we have made the decision to close all @BostonSchools for students starting Tuesday, March 17, until Monday, April 27, 2020, pic.twitter.com/jzVbAjdeO9
— BostonPublicSchools (@BostonSchools) March 13, 2020
Watch Mayor Marty Walsh’s comments on the decision:
WATCH LIVE: Mayor Marty Walsh providing update on coronavirus emergency in Massachusetts.
Posted by 7News – WHDH Boston on Friday, March 13, 2020
Archdiocese of Boston suspends ‘all daily and Sunday Masses and religious services’
The following is a statement from the Archdiocese of Boston:
In response to growing public concern and following Governor Baker’s Emergency Order prohibiting most gatherings of 250 or more people, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston, has made the decision effective immediately to temporarily suspend all daily and Sunday Masses and religious services in the Archdiocese of Boston until further notice. This begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, March 14. In announcing this decision, the Cardinal has also issued a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass during this time to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Boston.
Cardinal Seán said “We live in times when many people are confused, hurt, and fearful, for many different reasons. In the midst of these challenges Jesus seeks to meet us in the same way He met the disciples on the road to Emmaus, accompanying us on the journey, calming our fears and anxieties and assuring us that He will be with us always in the gift of the Eucharist. This decision to temporarily suspend the daily and Sunday Mass is motivated by an abundance of caution and concern for those most vulnerable and the need to do our part to help limit and mitigate the spread of the illness.”
The directive to temporarily suspend the celebration of Mass applies to all Archdiocesan parishes, missions, and campus ministries until further notice. Baptism, Confirmations, weddings and funerals may proceed but attendance should be limited to only immediate family.
CATHOLIC TV DAILY AND SUNDAY MASS
Cardinal Seán encourages Catholics to participate in the daily and Sunday Masses broadcast from the CatholicTV chapel.
Daily Mass airs live at 9:30 a.m. and is rebroadcast at 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.
Sunday Masses air throughout the day at 10 a.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m., and 11:30 p.m.
The Sunday Spanish Mass airs live at 8 a.m. and is rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Viewers can watch these Masses on demand at any time at www.WatchtheMass.com. For more information about CatholicTV and where you can watch it, visit http://www.catholictv.org/.
Earlier today after conferring with Cardinal Seán, Thomas W. Carroll, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, announced that Archdiocese of Boston parish schools and Archdiocesan elementary and high schools will be closed for two weeks from Monday, March 16 to Friday, March 27. On an ongoing basis, the Catholic Schools Office will consider whether this period needs to be extended further.
The Archdiocese will provide ongoing updates to parishes, schools and ministries during this period of response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Cardinal Seán said, “Though these are challenging times for our parishes and all members of our communities is important that we not forget the importance of care and concern for those who are most vulnerable, including the poor, our senior citizens and people who are medically compromised. I urge those who can do so to maintain the support for their parish during these difficult days in order to sustain the ministries and outreach services for parishioners and those most in need. We entrust the Church to the intercession of our Blessed Mother as we pray for the return to full celebration of the sacraments and community prayer as soon as possible.”
Mass. health officials release new coronavirus numbers; now 123 total cases, up 15 from Thursday (March 13)
Logan to provide ‘enhanced health screenings’ for passengers who’ve passed through Europe (March 13)
Massport announced Friday that the Department of Homeland Security has named Logan International Airport as one of 13 airports that will provide “enhanced health screening for passengers who have been to a number of European countries in the past 14 days.”
Rhode Island schools will be closed March 16-20 (March 13)
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has ordered schools in the state to close from March 16-20. The closure will take place instead of regularly scheduled spring breaks, according to the state’s Health Department.
As @GovRaimondo has just announced, April vacation for all Rhode Island public schools has been moved up to next week. All Rhode Island public schools will be closed next week, March 16-20.
— RIDeptEd (@RIDeptEd) March 13, 2020
No school next week! @GovRaimondo has instructed public schools to close next week, March 16-20, instead of the scheduled spring break in April. This is to try to get ahead of COVID-19. Students are asked to bring home their laptops. Daycare/childcare facilities will remain open. pic.twitter.com/FWYnSSO9ZO
— RI Dept. of Health (@RIHEALTH) March 13, 2020
More than a dozen North Shore school districts announce closures through at least March 27 (March 13)
North Shore and Merrimack Valley superintendents of schools announced Friday that more than a dozen North Shore school districts are closing through at least March 27 over concerns about the coronavirus spread.
The following districts have mutually decided to close, according to the superintendents:
- Amesbury Public Schools
- Beverly Public Schools
- Danvers Public Schools
- Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School
- Georgetown Public Schools
- Hamilton Wenham Regional School District
- Ipswich Public Schools
- Lynnfield Public Schools
- Manchester Essex Regional School District
- Masconomet Regional School District (middle/high schools of Boxford, Middleton, Topsfield)
- Pentucket Regional School District (Groveland, West Newbury, Merrimac)
- Swampscott Public Schools
- Triton Regional School District (Newbury, Rowley, Salisbury,)
- Tri-Town School Union (elementary schools of Boxford, Middleton, Topsfield)
- Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School
“This is against the recommendation of the Governor, the Commissioner of Education and the Department of Public Health but due to the conflicting information we are receiving from other experts that says that this virus is very serious and schools should be closed,” noted Georgetown Superintendent of Schools Carol Jacobs on her blog. “As educational leaders we are in a difficult spot because of the lack of clear and consistent guidance and the responsibility to make decisions that are not within our area of expertise. We are joining forces in this area and hopefully two weeks will buy us time to learn more and further reduce the spread of this virus.”
Gov. Charlie Baker issues emergency order banning gatherings of over 250 people (March 13)
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker issued an emergency order on Friday banning most gatherings of more than 250 people in the state in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The order applies to events such as civic, public, leisure, and faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs, and festivals.
“Everyone has a role to play in stopping the spread of the Coronavirus, and by limiting large gatherings, we can further mitigate the spread of the disease,” Baker said in a statement. “It is important to take these steps now to further protect the residents of the Commonwealth, and we will continue to encourage residents to maintain social distancing, and practice healthy personal hygiene to stop the spread of the virus.”
The order does not apply to the following, according to the state:
Gatherings subject to this Order include, but are not limited to: community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs, festivals, and any similar event or activity that brings together 250 or more persons in a single room or single space at the same time in a venue such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, theatre, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space.
The Order does not apply to normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and centers, polling locations, grocery or retail stores, or other spaces where 250 or more persons may be in transit.
The Order does not apply to restaurants, provided that they should, when possible, encourage social distancing.
The Order does not apply to typical office environments, government buildings, or factories where large numbers of people are present, but it is unusual for them to be within arm’s length of one another.
The Order does not apply to higher education or K-12 schools when classes are in session; provided, that assemblies or classes of more than 250 people are prohibited.
The Order does not apply to events that exclude spectators; provided, however, that members of the media may attend the event. Athletic and other events do not need to be cancelled or postponed if spectators and other attendees are excluded. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall issue guidance that shall govern scholastic athletic events.
This guidance shall take effect immediately and remain in full force and effect until the State of Emergency declared by the Governor no longer exists or the Order is rescinded, whichever is earlier.
Regardless of whether an event or gathering falls within the scope of the Order, all persons are urged to maintain social distancing (approximately six feet away from other people) whenever possible and to continue to wash hands, utilize hand sanitizer and practice proper respiratory etiquette.
Regardless of whether an event or gathering falls within the scope of the Order, all higher risk individuals should avoid large gatherings. Higher risk individuals include older adults, anyone with underlying health conditions, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes, anyone with weakened immune systems, and anyone who is pregnant.
The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education also issued updated guidance Friday for school districts regarding the coronavirus.
Baker said during Friday’s press conference that the Department of Public Health is not at this time recommending a shutdown of schools statewide.
The governor said current recommendations from DPH are for schools to take a “surgical, fact-based approach” based on circumstances in the immediate district, rather than having the state make a “blanket, across the board decision.”
“People should be making those decisions based on the facts associated with their school,” Baker said of leaving the decision to district and school leaders.
Also on Friday, Baker and state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders announced that two independent labs had been granted federal approval to begin testing for coronavirus in Massachusetts, a development both officials hailed as crucial and overdue for ramping up testing in the state.
“That will make a big difference,” Baker said of the need for more labs with federal approval to process coronavirus tests.
Waiting for federal approvals to get more labs testing for the virus has been “frustrating,” the governor said.
“I don’t think the feds are moving quickly enough,” he said.
Next week, Sudders said the state will be able to double its capacity for testing, processing 400 tests daily, up from 200.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says ‘there will be school Monday, and there will be school next week’ (March 13)
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said schools in the city will be open next week, but that he will announce on Sunday the district’s plan for moving forward in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.
District schools, with the exception of the Eliot School in the North End, which is closed until March 19, will be open Monday, he said Friday morning in brief comments before the start of a press conference on the postponement of the 2020 Boston Marathon.
“There will be school Monday, and there will be school next week,” Walsh said. “But what we’re going to be talking about is laying out a plan for if we have to close the schools and also how we’re going to be dealing with our schools moving forward, next week and beyond.”
Codman Academy Public Charter School in Dorchester announced Friday it will close at the end of the day through March 27.
“For your information, as of this morning, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases among Codman staff, students or families,” Thabiti Brown, head of the school, said in a statement. “Given the growing numbers of confirmed cases in the wider community, we hope that this move to close will help reduce the rate of infection.”
Maine officials announce 2 new cases of COVID-19, bringing total number to 3 (March 13)
A day after the first case of coronavirus was announced in Maine, officials say two other people have tested presumptively positive for the illness.
The Maine CDC said in a statement the two cases are a woman in her 20s, who is being cared for at Maine Medical Center in Portland, and a man in his 50s who was screened at a MaineHealth outpatient clinic and is in self- quarantine at his home.
“Maine CDC staff, working closely with MaineHealth providers, has begun investigating the patients’ travel histories,” officials wrote.
The state’s first case, a woman in her 50s from Androscoggin County, is in self-isolation at her home.
Tufts student tests positive for COVID-19 (March 13)
A student at Tufts University has tested positive for coronavirus, Executive Vice President Mike Howard announced in an email to the school community late Thursday.
“The individual, who has been in isolation, has been informed and is receiving care,” Howard wrote. “We ask all community members to respect the individual’s privacy and avoid speculation and rumor as to their identity. We are following the guidance of public health authorities pertaining to notification of community members who may have had contact with the student. Those community members will be contacted directly by the Medford Board of Health and provided with information and direction, including information on self-quarantine. If you are concerned that you may have been exposed, please contact the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs at [email protected].”
According to the Tufts Daily, the student, who lives off campus, told the newspaper they had recently traveled to the United Kingdom and that they began feeling ill on Monday.
Howard urged students to practice social distancing and cancel parties or gatherings planned in the coming days. Tufts is among the colleges moving to online instruction, asking students to leave residence halls on campus by Monday. The university has extended Spring Break to March 25, when classes will begin virtually.
Maine’s 1st case of coronavirus is a Navy Reservist (March 13)
The first person to test positive for COVID-19 is a U.S. Navy reservist, the Navy announced late Thursday. Maine officials say the woman in her 50s from Androscoggin County is currently quarantined in her home.
The Navy said it is the first positive case in a reservist.
“Personnel that the individual immediately identified having close contact with have been notified and are in self-isolation at their residence,” the branch of the armed services said in a statement. “Health professionals are conducting a thorough contact investigation to determine whether any other personnel may have been in close contact and possibly exposed. Depending on the results of that investigation, additional precautionary measures may be taken.”
Maine officials say they are assessing the woman’s travel history and investigating possible community exposure.
Schools in Cambridge, Chelsea, Salem, Brookline, and Norwood announce closures (March 13)
Cambridge Public Schools will close at the end of the school day on Friday, March 13. Schools will remain closed through Friday, March 27. During that period, the decision will be revisited to determine if the closure will be extended. Read more >> https://t.co/p4P90ddai3
— Cambridge Schools (@cambridge_cpsd) March 12, 2020
Indefinite Closure of Chelsea Public Schools
(1/4) We confirmed late this afternoon that there is a presumptive case of COVID-19 that involves the parents of a Wright Science and Technology Academy student. Test results for these individuals will be available in 72 hours.
— Chelsea Schools (@CPS_Chelsea) March 12, 2020
(2/4) This is not a confirmed case at this point.
Given this quickly evolving situation and the need to take every precaution possible, beginning on Friday, March 13, 2020 the Chelsea Public Schools will be closed indefinitely.
— Chelsea Schools (@CPS_Chelsea) March 12, 2020
(3/4) This decision has been made in consultation with the City of Chelsea. We believe this action is in the best interest of our students, staff and the Chelsea community in order to combat the pandemic Coronavirus. The closure of schools will last at least two weeks.
— Chelsea Schools (@CPS_Chelsea) March 12, 2020
(4/4) This is a situation that is evolving rapidly and we will keep you updated as much as possible. In the meantime, please monitor the Chelsea Public Schools’ website,https://t.co/wc5BYttWFO, for further information.
— Chelsea Schools (@CPS_Chelsea) March 12, 2020
Salem Public Schools will be closed for a minimum of 2 weeks effective Monday. More detailed communication is forthcoming
— Salem Public Schools (@SalemSchoolsk12) March 13, 2020
Read the latest update from Interim Superintendent Ben Lummis regarding the closure: https://t.co/xaX0o9UA7b pic.twitter.com/1u3QbHcswx
— Brookline MA Schools (@BrooklinePublic) March 12, 2020
All Norwood Public Schools will be closed tomorrow, March 13th through March 20th. Please click on the link for the…
Posted by Norwood Public Schools on Thursday, March 12, 2020
Newton is closing its public schools through the end of next week — and ‘possibly’ longer (March 12)
Newton is closing its public schools through at least the end of next week, amid concerns about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the region.
“There will be no school tomorrow, next week and possibly for a longer period,” Newton Superintendent David Fleishman wrote in a letter to community members Thursday afternoon.
“We know the cancellation of school, its associated activities, and events that use our school buildings is disappointing and extremely disruptive to our daily lives,” Fleishman added. “However, we believe we must do so for the health and well-being of our community.”
The city’s library will also be closed beginning Friday. Officials said they plan to provide another update as soon as next week. While there had been no reported cases of coronavirus in Newton as of Thursday, officials had already been restricting city-sponsored events to limit the disease’s spread. As part of the social distancing efforts, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller additionally urged residents Thursday to “stay six feet away from others and avoid group settings.”
Somerville is closing schools and city offices for a ‘minimum’ of 2 weeks (March 12)
The city of Somerville announced Thursday that all public schools and city offices will be closed for “a minimum of two weeks” beginning Monday to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, after at least three residents tested positive for the disease. The city had already canceled schools through the weekend.
In a message to residents, Somerville officials said that essential public health and safety services — like police and fire responses, trash collection, and the 311 call center — will remain open. Otherwise, all city and school-sponsored events are canceled during the period.
“We realize this decision creates inconveniences for residents, businesses, and organizations in our city but the health and safety of our community must come first,” Mayor Joe Curtatone said in a statement.
“History has shown us that communities that implement social distancing measures early fair the best during a public health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” Curtatone said. “Minimizing contact is the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect residents who are particularly vulnerable to this illness.”
More school closures announced in Everett, Concord (March 12)
Important Message from the City of Everett regarding school closures and other key updates.
Posted by Everett Public Schools, Massachusetts on Thursday, March 12, 2020
Due to concerns for public safety, the PreK-8 Concord Public Schools and CCHS will be closed from Friday, March 13 through Friday, March 20. Please plan for home based activities and watch for upcoming information.
— CPS CCHS Super (@cps_cchs) March 12, 2020
Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Burlington, Lexington, and Winchester close schools through at least March 27 (March 12)
The following is a joint release from the school districts:
As superintendents of schools await further guidance from state and federal public health officials, a group of superintendents in Middlesex County have collaborated to make a timely and unified decision about school closure.
The following districts have agreed to a two-week school closure:
The following is a statement from the superintendents in the six districts:
“As we await further guidance from State health officials, area superintendents have collaborated to make a timely and unified decision about school closure. The following districts have agreed to a two-week school closure starting tomorrow: Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Burlington, Lexington, and Winchester, while other districts in our area are working out the details.
“Our decision has been informed by our local boards of health, as well by expert epidemiologists who recognize that the time to act is now. We know we can have a greater and more positive impact on public health and safety if we do this together.
“Many in our area have been particularly impacted due to our families who have a greater number of presumptive positive cases in the area. Please be aware that this school closure period of time may be extended or shortened should State authorities so direct. We realize the decisions we are making in our geographic region do not necessarily reflect the needs and decisions of our counterparts in other areas of the State.
“We do this out of an abundance of caution, particularly out of sensitivity to families and staff who have underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to complications should they become infected. We also do not do this lightly, as we know that this will impose a hardship on families who do not have childcare options.”
Mass. health officials release new coronavirus numbers; 108 total cases now reported (March 12)
That’s 13 more than Wednesday.
Wellesley Public Schools will close for 2 weeks to prevent COVID-19 spread, starting Friday (March 12)
Wellesley officials announced Thursday that all district schools will close for two weeks, beginning Friday.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were five cases of the coronavirus in the town.
“Over the next few days, WPS administrators will work collaboratively with the Wellesley Teachers’ Association to finalize plans for remote learning,” officials said in a statement. “The district will use their four remaining ‘snow days’ to prepare for this transition. We will update staff and families in the coming days with additional information about these plans. We realize this decision has a significant impact and far-reaching ramifications for our community and understand the disappointment, frustration and uncertainty that is created. However, we believe these steps are necessary given the current realities.”
In addition to the schools, the town’s Tolles Parsons Center will also close Friday, and all Council on Aging programs and Wellesley Free Libraries programs are suspended.
“The Wellesley Health Department (WHD) urgently reminds all parents and children that it is imperative to follow protocols for personal protection for prevention, as well as to lower risk of transmission of illness to others,” town officials said. “Please remember the importance of social and personal distancing; avoid large gatherings; and do not congregate in areas.”
Wellesley College moving to online classes, asking students not to return to campus after spring break (March 12)
For questions regarding today’s announcement, please visit: https://t.co/LgifokyvpN
— Wellesley College (@Wellesley) March 12, 2020
Northern Essex Community College is closing its Haverhill and Lawrence campuses until Monday amid coronavirus concerns.
NECC-YELLOW-Alert: Both Haverhill and Lawrence Campuses are closed today, Thursday, March 12, at 11am until Monday, March 16 at 8am. This morning we learned an NECC student may have come in contact with a presumptive case of COVID-19. There is no confirmed case.
— NorthernEssexCC (@NorthernEssex) March 12, 2020
1st case of coronavirus diagnosed in Maine (March 12)
Maine Gov. Janet Mills announced Thursday that the first case of coronavirus has been diagnosed in the state.
The woman in her 50s, a resident of Androscoggin County, is the state’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19. She is not currently hospitalized but is under self-quarantine, officials said. Health officials are currently looking into the woman’s travel history and who she may have come into contact with.
“The Maine CDC has been preparing for this eventuality since the end of last year,” Mills said in a statement. “With one presumptive positive case, Maine has a unique window of opportunity to delay an outbreak, like those we see in other states, and to minimize our exposure.”
The governor announced the following steps being taken in Maine to prevent spread of the virus:
1) proclaiming an insurance emergency to improve access to care and require private health insurance plans to cover costs related to coronavirus testing
2) suspending all non-essential out-of-state work travel by state employees
3) recommending, on the advice of Maine CDC, that non-essential large, indoor gatherings of 250 attendees or more be postponed in order to delay a potential coronavirus outbreak and substantially reduce its spread.
Watch the full press conference below:
Another individual tests positive for COVID-19 in New Hampshire, bringing total number of cases to 6 (March 12)
Officials say there is a new positive case of coronavirus in New Hampshire, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the novel illness in the state to six.
Health officials said the adult man from Rockingham County had recently traveled to “multiple countries” in Europe.
“The person self-isolated upon return from Europe and notified their healthcare provider after developing symptoms,” officials said in a Thursday statement. “Household contacts have self-quarantined.”
Since the man has been isolated at home with the exception of seeking health care since returning from his trip, state officials say they have not identified anyone other than his household members as being in close contact with him while he was infectious.
“Despite increased testing in our communities, the NH DHHS has not yet identified any widespread transmission in NH nor individuals who test positive without clearly identified risk factors,” the state’s Department of Health and Human Services said.
Boston’s Marriott Long Wharf hotel, where Biogen meeting took place, will close (March 12)
The Marriott Long Wharf hotel, the site of the Biogen conference that has been linked to the majority of the coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, will close, officials announced Thursday.
Marriott released the following statement:
In consultation with the Boston Public Health Commission, we have made the mutual decision to close the hotel today. This decision comes as a result of new information and is made in the interest of public health. We appreciate and support the efforts of our public health authorities as they continue their important work to mitigate potential spread of the novel coronavirus. The safety and well-being of our guests is of paramount importance to us.
A spokesperson for the company said the Boston hotel would close Thursday. Information on how long the closure would last was not immediately available.
Officials say there are now 5 reported cases of coronavirus in Wellesley (March 12)
Two more Wellesley residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the town to five, health officials said in a statement.
“These two additional cases do not impact Wellesley Public Schools,” town officials said. “All cases are isolated at home following MDPH protocols and are being monitored daily by WHD.”
The town has already canceled non-essential government meetings and most public meetings.
“We are urging our senior citizen population to continue to be vigilant, avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing and good hygiene, and to stay home as much as possible to limit exposure to coronavirus,” Wellesley officials said.
2nd person tests positive for COVID-19 in Vermont, 3rd case diagnosed in Connecticut (March 12)
Vermont officials announced Wednesday a second state resident, who lives in Chittenden County, has tested positive for coronavirus. The man, in his 70s, was hospitalized this week. Officials say they are investigating the person’s “possible exposure history” and are seeking to identify anyone who may have had close contact with him.
“We are, first and foremost, hopeful for this gentleman’s recovery,” Health Commissioner Mark Levine said in a statement. “This case came to light the same day that the World Health Organization officially termed the outbreak a global pandemic. The seriousness of this virus and the rate it is spreading in the U.S. and around the world reinforces the importance of everyone staying informed and following CDC guidance about avoiding crowds, non-essential travel, and other recommended steps for protecting your health and preventing germs from spreading.”
The first Vermonter diagnosed, who tested positive last week, lives in Bennington County.
A new case of COVID-19 was also announced Wednesday in Connecticut, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the novel virus to three.
The new case is an “elderly gentleman who lives in a private residence in New Canaan,” Gov. Ned Lamont announced. The man is hospitalized at Norwalk Hospital.
“This case is not connected to any known cases in Connecticut,” the governor wrote. “And @CTDPH officials are assisting medical professionals to conduct the contract trace investigation.”
This case is not connected to any known cases in Connecticut, and @CTDPH officials are assisting medical professionals to conduct the contract trace investigation. To date, the State Laboratory has tested 74 individuals. Three tested positive, 71 tested negative.
— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) March 11, 2020
Boston closes 3 campuses of Eliot School for week due to coronavirus concerns, Framingham Public Schools shut down Thursday (March 12)
Boston officials announced late Wednesday that the three campuses of the Eliot k-8 School will be closed through March 19 after a non-student member of the school community tested positive for COVID-19.
The city said public health staff are “working on an ongoing basis to assess risk and follow up with all known contacts” of the person.
“At this point we encourage everyone who has been physically inside one of three Eliot buildings to practice social distancing and avoid public places until Thursday, March 19, 2020,” said public health officials. “If you or anyone associated with the school develops fever 100.4°F/38°C or higher, cough or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care provider or the Mayor’s Health Line 617-534-5050 or Toll-Free: 1-800-847-0710.”
Mayor Marty Walsh said the city will take “aggressive action to mitigate the spread of the virus.”
“Our top priority is to prevent further spread of coronavirus to Boston residents and I urge everyone impacted to carefully follow guidance from public health officials to keep you, your families and our community healthy and safe,” he said.
At the recommendation of @HealthyBoston, we have made the decision to temporarily close the Eliot K-8 @BostonSchools. We are committed to keeping the children & residents of Boston safe & informed. We will take aggressive action to mitigate the spread of this virus. https://t.co/tw7QsZ8Ufa
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) March 12, 2020
This is a very serious situation and @BostonSchools, @BCassellius and @HealthyBoston are moving swiftly to ensure we have a fast and effective response to the coronavirus.
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) March 12, 2020
As of Thursday morning, there are 19 total cases of coronavirus in Boston.
Milford Public Schools will be closed Thursday and Friday after district officials say a staff member at Woodland Elementary School was placed under self-quarantine based on a family member’s connection to the Biogen conference in Boston, where the majority of the state’s coronavirus cases originated.
“The staff member and their family member are currently asymptomatic,” Superintendent Kevin McIntyre said in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, we will be closing the Milford Public Schools both Thursday, March 12th and Friday, March 13th for an extensive cleaning led by our maintenance staff and cleaning crews from a contracted cleaning service. All school sponsored events or events taking place in any of our schools over the weekend will be postponed.”
In Framingham, all public schools are also closed Thursday for cleaning after officials learned a city resident, who has a child who attends Potter Road Elementary, tested positive for coronavirus. The child is also showing mild symptoms of infection, officials said.
“The child and family are following the quarantine protocol from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) until cleared to return to school,” Framingham officials said. “As with any communicable disease, communities are required to follow direction from the MDPH. Related to this case, there is an identified group of students who may have potentially been exposed to the COVID-19 and those families are being contacted directly. Those students will need to be in quarantine for 14 days.”
The district will provide an update at noon on Thursday.
Somerville closes all schools through the weekend after third resident tests positive for coronavirus (March 11)
Somerville announced Wednesday night that the city’s public schools and district offices will be closed Thursday through Sunday, after a third resident of the city tested positive for COVID-19. Officials said the city’s library branches will also be closed, and its parks and recreation programs, boxing club, and all activities held at Somerville Public School buildings are canceled through the weekend.
“These closures will allow time for the Somerville Department of Public Works (DPW) to conduct a deep and thorough cleaning of all of these buildings,” officials wrote in a community alert Wednesday night. “DPW will be utilizing new equipment that allows them to thoroughly clean and sanitize the buildings. Normal programming is expected to resume Monday, March 16.”
The city said that its Board of Health was informed Wednesday night that a third resident, a “parent of an East Somerville Community School parent,” had tested positive for the coronavirus. The news comes after officials announced two other presumptive cases in Somerville residents — including one person who is the parent of a West Somerville Neighborhood School student and the spouse of a teacher at the school. All three cases appear to be linked to the Biogen conference late last month in Boston, they said.
Somerville is the first community in the Boston metro area to implement a districtwide closure in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Districts in Framingham, Milford, Weston, and Winchendon have also closed schools this week after community members tested positive for the disease, according to MassLive, while Boston has closed the Eliot K-8 School’s three campuses until Thursday, March 19.
Somerville also announced earlier Wednesday it would be canceling all city-permitted events through the end of April with more than 50 projected attendees in one place.
Somerville says 2 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, both linked to Biogen conference
The state Department of Public Health says two Somerville residents have tested positive for COVID-19, city officials announced Wednesday evening.
Officials say both of the presumptive cases are traceable to the Biogen conference late last month in Boston, which has been identified as the source of the majority of the 95 coronavirus cases in Massachusetts.
One of the people who tested positive is the spouse of a teacher at the West Somerville Neighborhood School, as well as a parent of a student at the school. Officials say all three family members are quarantining at home. The West Somerville Neighborhood School will also be closed Thursday, following “a deep cleaning of the entire school” Wednesday evening by the city’s public works department.
The other positive case involves a male Somerville resident, who has been in contact with DPH for guidance. However, Somerville health officials said Wednesday evening that they were awaiting more information about the case.
The city’s Board of Health was also informed that two people who tested positive for COVID-19 were at an event last week at Assembly Row. Neither is a Somerville resident.
Somerville announced earlier Wednesday afternoon that all events through the end of April sponsored or permitted by the city or its schools with more than 50 projected attendees would be postponed or canceled, as part of their efforts to limit the spread of the disease. The city is also banning spectators at all local sporting events and setting guidelines for smaller events.
Boston College, Brandeis University join other Mass. schools in moving to online classes (March 11)
All on-campus classes are canceled effective March 12. Online instruction will begin March 19. Read a message from President William P. Leahy, S.J. to the Boston College community: https://t.co/Y7sNTBq3Li
Any further information will be posted to https://t.co/VRDQFY3RhI
— Boston College (@BostonCollege) March 11, 2020
As a proactive measure against the spread of COVID-19, Brandeis is moving all classes online. Classes with more than 100 students will move online as of March 16. The last day of in-person instruction regardless of size will be March 20. Full details: https://t.co/Egma5KTAjk pic.twitter.com/uioFDuXGSk
— Brandeis University (@BrandeisU) March 11, 2020
Mass. health officials release new coronavirus numbers; now 95 total cases, 6 confirmed by CDC (March 11)
The previous day, on Tuesday, there were 92 total cases reported, one of which had been confirmed by the CDC.
UMass, Northeastern, Boston University implementing virtual classes (March 11)
The University of Massachusetts system, Northeastern, Boston University, and Wheaton College announced Wednesday that they are moving to online instruction over coronavirus outbreak concerns, following similar moves taken earlier this week by institutions including Harvard and MIT.
“We are implementing these measures, not because there is presently any evidence that our campuses are unsafe, but in order to make them safer … proactive steps are necessary to make our campus communities safer – for the students who return home and the faculty and staff who remain,” UMass President Martin Meehan said in a statement. “These measures will reduce the density of our campus populations, which will enable social distancing.”
Classes throughout the UMass system will be taught remotely using web, video, and teleconferencing tools through April 3, he said. Remote learning will start for UMass Medical on Thursday. The switch for UMass Dartmouth and UMass Lowell will begin next week when spring break ends — students will be notified they should not return to campus unless they receive special permission to retrieve their belongings, he said. For UMass Amherst and UMass Boston, the change will start March 23 when their spring break ends, and they are being asked to bring home any belongings before they depart for the vacation at the end of this week.
Similarly, Boston University students are being told not to return to campus at the end of spring break, with online instruction to begin on March 11, officials announced.
Meanwhile, Wheaton College is extending spring break through March 22, cancelling classes that would have taken place during that time, school officials announced.
“All students are expected to leave campus by Sunday, March 22, at 5 p.m., and not return to campus, until further notice,” the school said in a statement. “Our offices will be developing a financial policy to address this disruption in room and board and more specific information will be communicated soon.”
Virtual instruction at Wheaton will begin March 23.
Northeastern is moving to online and remote instruction for their Boston campus on Thursday, but the university is not asking students to move out of residence halls.
“While students may elect to do so, we are committed to maintaining continuity of campus life for those who elect to stay,” Northeastern President Joseph Aoun said in a statement. “As outlined in prior messages to the community, we are maintaining the university’s current staffing levels, except for faculty and staff who are in groups deemed to be high-risk.”
The Boston Globe has a full list of schools that have changed instruction and campus policies in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.
2 more people test positive for COVID-19 in Rhode Island (March 11)
Rhode Island health officials say two new individuals have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the state to five.
The two presumptive positive cases are a woman in her 50s, who had recently traveled to Egypt, and a woman in her 30s. The source of the second woman’s infection is “currently unknown,” according to the state Department of Health.
“That is being investigated,” health officials said in a statement. “This second individual is a healthcare worker at a Rhode Island hospital. Both individuals are recovering at home.”
Everyone who had direct, face-to face contact with the women are being instructed to self-quarantine.
As of Tuesday, officials said the number of people under self-isolation was around 270.
Attorney General Maura Healey warns Mass. residents about consumer scams related to COVID-19 (March 11)
Attorney General Maura Healey issued advice for Massachusetts residents to be on the alert for scams related to the coronavirus.
“Fears about the coronavirus are on the rise and so are those looking to capitalize on uncertainty about its impact in Massachusetts,” Healey said in a statement. “We want consumers to be vigilant when it comes to fraud and abuse and encourage everyone to learn how to protect themselves from scams and use our office as a resource.”
Healey said residents should:
- Beware of false and misleading information.
- Stay home if you’re sick.
- Get help with health insurance questions.
- Watch out for high-priced or low-quality products.
- Don’t trust anyone offering vaccinations or other treatments.
- Consider seeking a refund for cancelled travel.
- Be on alert for scams.
- Look out for unauthorized or fraudulent charities or solicitations.
ACLU of Massachusetts releases recommendations as state officials weigh coronavirus response (March 11)
The ACLU of Massachusetts is urging government officials to consider protections of vulnerable populations as responses to the coronavirus are rolled out.
“Public health and legal experts, including the ACLU, have advised that voluntary self-isolation measures are more likely to induce cooperation and protect public trust than coercive or mandated measures,” the group said in a statement. “Even if a quarantine is imposed, people do not lose their due process rights, which at a minimum require that they be able to challenge their quarantine.”
Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts on Tuesday after the number of COVID-19 cases rose to 92, up from 41 the previous day.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has said he is in communication with Carol Rose, the executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, as he puts together plans for responding to the COVID-19 outbreak and urged city residents to think about the seriousness of the situation in Italy, which has largely shut down to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Obviously we’re balancing, in the United States we have civil liberties of people’s rights and we’re not going to take those rights away. … The best we can do right now is take the steps to be cautious and careful and prevent the spread of coronavirus,” Walsh said during a Tuesday press conference. “We could be having a conversation in five days that’s very different than this one.”
The ACLU is recommending the following:
- State and local law enforcement including the attorney general, district attorneys, and local police should reduce the number of people in state custody in order to prevent the virus from entering a prison or jail. Where possible, non-enforcement or citations should be prioritized over arrests;
- Massachusetts Department of Correction and county houses of corrections should act to protect the public health of incarcerated people, including ensuring adequate cleaning supplies and access to medical care, and should coordinate with local public health officials to determine other appropriate measures to take;
- ICE should halt immigration detentions to limit the spread of the virus in jails and detentions centers and to limit the hardships that the virus causes for immigrant communities;
- State government, in conjunction with local and federal government, must ensure equal access to health care, including free and fair coronavirus testing. Policymakers must ensure that insurance barriers or lack of insurance do not inhibit testing or access to care;
- Government and employers must ensure that people are protected from job loss and economic hardship. In order to encourage all people to cooperate with health officials and public health guidelines, the government and employers must provide social and economic support including strong paid family and medical leave policies and income support.
Mass. health officials say 445 people are being monitored for coronavirus in the state (March 11)
Health officials said Wednesday that 445 people are undergoing self-quarantine in Massachusetts, monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19. A total number of 1,087 people have been subject to quarantine since the outbreak began, and 638 people have completed the 14-day period of self-isolation.
Schools in Hopkinton, Wayland close following positive COVID-19 tests (March 11)
Schools in Hopkinton and Wayland are closed Wednesday due to concerns following new positive coronavirus tests, officials said.
In Hopkinton, all schools are shut down with district officials pointing to Gov. Charlie Baker’s declaration of a state of emergency on Tuesday and two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the town.
SCHOOL CLOSED WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2020Dear Hopkinton Families,Due to Governor Charlie Baker’s declaration of a State…
Posted by Hopkinton Public Schools on Tuesday, March 10, 2020
In Wayland, Loker Elementary and the middle school are closed following news that a parent of students at each of the buildings had tested positive for the novel virus.
“The parent had been exposed last week and had chosen to self-quarantine since the exposure,” school officials said in a statement. “The students showed no symptoms of the illness but also self-quarantined beginning Monday of this week.”
The two schools will undergo cleaning on Wednesday.
“We do not have reason to believe that the students were contagious or that students and staff in the two buildings were exposed to COVID-19,” the officials said. “Therefore, based on direction from the Wayland Department of Health, we do not see the need for any students or staff in Loker or the Middle School to consider self-quarantining at this time.”
In Natick, two high school students have tested positive for coronavirus, WCVB reports. According to the Natick School District, the students were “proactively” pulled from school last week while one of their parents was being tested for coronavirus. The entire family initiated self-quarantine, the district said. The parent tested positive on Sunday, and, late Monday, the students also tested positive.
“The status of Natick High has not changed because the children were quarantined prior to the affected parent receiving their COVID-19 presumptive positive diagnosis,” officials said Tuesday. “In addition, Natick High was cleaned on Friday and Saturday, with typical use cleaning protocols, and was again disinfected using a deep disinfection protocol with enhanced equipment on Sunday. The presumptive positive students have not been in contact with any students or staff since their family-initiated quarantine in the week prior to the situation coming to our attention.”
Babson College joins Amherst, Harvard, and MIT in moving to online classes (March 10)
Important community update: As a proactive measure against the spread of COVID-19, Babson College will transition all classes fully online beginning Friday, 3/13 and will remain online through the end of the Spring semester. Full statement: https://t.co/2LpWcXSMro
— Babson College (@babson) March 10, 2020
MIT undergrads won’t return to campus after break; classes will be online only (March 10)
Following similar moves by Amherst College and Harvard (see below), MIT announced late Tuesday afternoon that undergraduate students won’t return to campus after spring break and classes will be taught online.
The plan, per MIT President L. Rafael Reif’s letter:
1. All classes are cancelled for the week of Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20. Because the following week is spring break, this will allow faculty and instructors two weeks to organize a full transition to online instruction.
2. Online instruction, which some units are already experimenting with this week, will begin for all classes on Monday, March 30, and continue for the remainder of the semester.
3. Undergraduates should not return to campus after spring break. Undergraduates who live in an MIT residence or fraternity, sorority or independent living group (FSILG) must begin packing and departing this Saturday, March 14. We are requiring undergraduates to depart from campus residences no later than noon on Tuesday, March 17. Please see below for detail on graduate students.
4. Classes will continue this week as we continue to prepare for this transition.
“We are taking this dramatic action to protect the health and safety of everyone at MIT – staff, students, postdocs and faculty – and because MIT has an important role in slowing the spread of this disease,” Reif wrote.
92 coronavirus cases now reported in Massachusetts, 70 related to Biogen (March 10)
New Hampshire announces new case of coronavirus had contact with person who tested positive in Mass. (March 10)
Another person has tested positive for COVID-19 in New Hampshire, health officials announced Tuesday. The adult man from Rockingham County is the state’s fifth presumptive positive test result, and he is currently self-isolated at home.
“This person was identified as a contact to a case of COVID-19 in another state,” New Hampshire officials said in a statement. “The Massachusetts Department of Public Health tested and notified NH DHHS of the presumptive positive case.”
An investigation by health officials found the man remained at home while sick except to seek healthcare, and anyone who may have been in close contact will be notified by the the Department of Health and Human Services.
Massachusetts Legislature announces it will approve $15 million fund to respond to COVID-19 outbreak (March 10)
Massachusetts Senate and House leaders announced Tuesday they will take up a supplemental budget to create a $15 million fund to respond to the outbreak of the coronavirus in the state.
“Public health emergencies demand immediate action from government, and the House today, alongside its partners in the Senate, committed to taking up legislation in direct response to the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said in a statement.
Senate President Karen Spilka urged in a statement that residents continue to follow Department of Public Health recommendations to protect against the virus.
“The Senate’s number one priority is to safeguard the health of our residents,” she said. “We are therefore pleased that the House has joined with us to work swiftly and closely to move this funding package forward, which will better prepare our Commonwealth for the impacts of the COVID-19 virus.”
The Legislature will take up the supplemental budget next week.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says city is working on contingency plans to prepare for coronavirus spread (March 10)
Boston officials are putting together contingency plans should city workers be forced to work from home and preparing for if schools need to be closed due to the spread of the coronavirus, Mayor Marty Walsh said during a Tuesday press conference.
“We’re preparing for what unfortunately might be the inevitable in the City of Boston,” he said.
Walsh estimated he is spending about 60 to 70 percent of his time focused on the coronavirus response and said conversations around the Boston Marathon remain “fluid” and ongoing.
As of Tuesday, Walsh said there was no deadline for making a decision on the marathon. If it is determined the race can’t take place, Walsh said he would prefer to see a postponement of it rather than a cancellation, pointing out the economic impact to the city is around $211 million from the annual event.
“But again, my job as mayor, and our jobs as leaders, is to make sure that people are safe, so we’re always going to err on the side of caution,” he said.
The mayor stressed that the city is taking the spread of COVID-19 seriously and “taking very aggressive action,” citing the rise in cases in recent days in his decision to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“It was a very different situation a couple weeks ago, and in five days it’s going to be a very different situation again,” Walsh said.
The mayor urged city residents to take the outbreak of the virus seriously.
“I want Bostonians not to be fearful, but to be cautious,” he said.
For those who may think the attention on the virus is out of proportion, Walsh said he hopes that ends up being the case.
“I hope it’s being blown out of proportion,” he said. “I hope I can stand here in three weeks and say it was completely blown out of proportion and we did all this preparation for nothing. … I’ll be happy if I have to do that. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to be the case.”
Watch the full press conference below:
Coronavirus update: Mayor Marty Walsh speaking about public health in Boston
Coronavirus update: Mayor Marty Walsh speaking about public health in Boston MORE INFO: http://bit.ly/2IBizHv
Posted by WCVB Channel 5 Boston on Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Harvard and other colleges announce steps for moving to online learning over coronavirus fears (March 10)
Harvard is asking students not to return to campus after spring break, announcing Tuesday that all courses will move to online instruction starting March 23 over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. The school is also strongly discouraging any non-essential meetings or events of more than 25 people on campus.
“The decision to move to virtual instruction was not made lightly,” President Lawrence Bacow said in a statement. “The goal of these changes is to minimize the need to gather in large groups and spend prolonged time in close proximity with each other in spaces such as classrooms, dining halls, and residential buildings. Our actions are consistent with the recommendations of leading health officials on how to limit the spread of COVID-19 and are also consistent with similar decisions made by a number of our peer institutions. The campus will remain open and operations will continue with appropriate measures to protect the health of the community.”
Harvard will begin transitioning to virtual instruction for graduate and undergraduate classes. Read President Bacow’s message to the community. https://t.co/njh3ci1QEH
— Harvard University (@Harvard) March 10, 2020
The move follows a day after Amherst College announced similar plans to move to online classes starting March 23, after the institution’s spring break, and asking all students to leave campus by March 16. Amherst is also canceling classes Thursday and Friday this week so faculty and staff “time to work on alternate modes of delivering courses, and students have every opportunity to secure transportation.”
A critical COVID-19-related announcement about Spring Break plans, remote learning, attendance restrictions and other important developments.https://t.co/bOvDOiZwmC
— Amherst College (@AmherstCollege) March 10, 2020
MIT also announced Monday that it is suspending in-person meetings of classes with more than 150 students and the affected classes, about 20, will move to a virtual setting.
“We are being guided by our medical professionals who are in close contact with state and national public health officials,” Ian Waitz, vice chancellor for undergraduate and graduate education, wrote in a statement. “They have advised us that while the risk to the community is low and there are no cases on campus as of now, we need to move quickly to help prevent the potential transmission of the disease and to be ready if and when it impacts our campus.”
Events postponed or canceled as MIT responds to COVID-19: Changes follow new Institute policies on travel, events, and visitors; some large classes to move online. https://t.co/NbmvDG7m5b pic.twitter.com/KXzl5J0JuI
— Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (@MIT) March 9, 2020
Boston University announced Tuesday it is asking faculty to prepare to teach classes remotely in the event of an emergency campus shutdown.
As #coronavirus spreads, Boston University has asked faculty to prepare to teach classes remotely if an emergency campus shutdown occurs: https://t.co/SHd5EeKuln
— Boston University (@BU_Tweets) March 9, 2020
Norwood town manager, Arlington student among those testing positive for COVID-19 (March 10)
The town manager of Norwood and an elementary school student in Arlington are among the latest round of Massachusetts residents to test positive for coronavirus, officials say. State health officials announced Monday the total number of cases in Massachusetts has risen to 41.
Norwood officials announced Monday evening that General Manager Tony Mazzucoo tested positive for the novel virus and is in self-quarantine. He began showing symptoms on Thursday, and a professional cleaning crew sanitized and disinfected the Town Hall over the weekend.
“All individuals who are considered close contacts with Mazzucco have been notified by public health officials of the need to self-quarantine and have been given appropriate instructions,” the town said in a statement. “If you have not been contacted by public health officials about self-quarantining you do not need to self-quarantine.”
Arlington officials also announced Monday night that a student at Stratton Elementary School has tested positive for coronavirus. The child’s mother, an employee at Biogen, had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19, and the town closed the elementary school on Monday for cleaning after learning the student was exhibiting symptoms and being tested.
Arlington’s Health Department has informed all faculty, staff, and families of students who are considered by public health officials as being “close contacts” of the ill child.
“Those individuals have been advised to self-quarantine for 14 days and not report to school on Tuesday, in accordance with the advice of DPH,” the town said. “The Town and the Arlington Public Schools stress: If you have not been notified by the Arlington Health Department that you need to self-quarantine, then you do not need to self-quarantine.”
Coronavirus Update: All #ArlingtonMA Public Schools Open March 10. Read full details on the COVID-19 Information Page. https://t.co/PkNkX6svGW pic.twitter.com/MKUR46EASo
— Town of Arlington MA (@arlingtonmagov) March 9, 2020
South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade is canceled (March 9)
Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, scheduled for 3/15/20, is being cancelled. This decision is being made out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we are doing what is needed to keep the residents of Boston safe and healthy. pic.twitter.com/JzO9v4LZHH
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) March 9, 2020
Number of Mass. COVID-19 cases rises to 41 (March 9)
The number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts rose to 41 Monday afternoon — up from 28 on Sunday, according to state health officials. Forty presumptive positive cases have been recorded after state testing, while only one case so far has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, statistics from the state Department of Public Health show. Most of those diagnosed with the coronavirus in the Bay State are men — 23 have tested positive compared to 18 women — while the minority of patients — four of them — have been hospitalized. The vast majority of patients have been linked to the meeting Cambridge biotech firm Biogen held in Boston late last month. As of Monday, 32 patients were either Biogen employees or contacts, officials said. Four cases were travel-related, and five were still under investigation.
Multiple schools in Mass. close over coronavirus concerns (March 9)
With the number of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts rising to 28 over the weekend, multiple school districts in the state announced closures and steps to prevent spread of the novel virus.
In Arlington, officials closed Stratton Elementary School for Monday after being notified that a parent of a student had tested positive for COVID-19. The child of that parent is also showing symptoms and has been tested; the results are pending. The child’s parent is a woman in her 40s who attended the Biogen conference that has been linked to 23 of the 28 cases of coronavirus in Massachusetts.
“It is never an easy decision to close a school building. We are ever-mindful of childcare needs and family schedules, however we are faced with a challenging and uncertain situation,” Arlington Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Bodie said in a statement. “Without test results in hand, and with a parent who has tested positive for COVID-19, the leadership team in Arlington unanimously feels that it is best to close the Stratton on Monday and re-evaluate during the day. I would like to thank our public health and public safety leaders as well as Town Manager [Adam] Chapdelaine for their guidance and teamwork as we respond to our portion of this worldwide issue.”
The second parent in the household and the other child, who attends Gibbs School, are symptom free but will remain in self-quarantine for 14 days. All other Arlington schools are open.
#ArlingtonMA Announces 1st Presumptive Positive COVID-19 Case with additional tests pending. As a precautionary measure, Stratton Elementary School CLOSED Monday March 9, 2020. Please read full details. https://t.co/S27IBXAp8B pic.twitter.com/HXwYUns0Lr
— Town of Arlington MA (@arlingtonmagov) March 9, 2020
Two elementary schools in Plainville, the Beatrice H. Wood and Anna Ware Jackson schools, are also closed Monday, according to WHDH. The move was made while a parent of students at the schools was being tested for coronavirus.
Lexington officials announced a town resident had tested positive for COVID-19 and is recovering at home in isolation with their family members also in self-quarantine. Two of the family members are students at Bowman Elementary School. The school has been cleaned and remains open, and the two students will remain at home for 14 days and be monitored for symptoms.
A Natick resident is also among those who have tested positive for the virus, school officials said. The individual has children who attend Natick High School, who are now following the state’s quarantine protocol. The high school was closed Sunday for a “thorough cleaning and sanitation round for every classroom and space throughout the building.”
A Newton resident diagnosed with coronavirus has a child at Horace Mann Elementary, school officials said. The student, who hasn’t exhibited symptoms, is in quarantine, and the district conducted “deep cleaning and disinfecting” at the school on Sunday.
Schools in Weston were thoroughly cleaned over the weekend, officials said, after a parent of a middle school student tested positive for coronavirus. The student, who is asymptomatic, has not been in school since last Wednesday and remains in home quarantine.
See more of Boston.com’s coronavirus coverage.
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