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Mass. public health commissioner tests positive for COVID-19

Dr. Monica Bharel has had "mild" symptoms so far, according to a statement.

Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel speaks at a March 15, 2020, press conference on the coronavirus. Blake Nissen for The Boston Globe

Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel, who had been addressing the media and public alongside top state officials, including Gov. Charlie Baker, about the novel coronavirus outbreak in the commonwealth, announced Friday evening that she has tested positive for the virus.

Bharel said in a statement she received her positive results Friday and has had “mild” symptoms so far:

I want to notify the public that I have tested positive for COVID-19. I was tested Thursday night and received the results back today from the State Public Health Laboratory. As the public health commissioner and an essential state employee, I have been vigilant about practicing social distancing from my colleagues and members of the public. My symptoms so far have been mild. I have notified my appropriate close contacts and will rest and recuperate at home, while continuing to carry out my work responsibilities remotely. The Department of Public Health offices will be thoroughly cleaned over the weekend.

I hope everyone will continue to take seriously the threat of COVID-19.

“Dr. Bharel is doing exactly what everyone should be doing, which is staying home if you feel sick and taking this virus very seriously,” Baker said, according to State House News Service reporter Matthew Murphy.

A state Department of Public Health spokeswoman said the governor will not be tested for the virus, Murphy reported.

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