Coronavirus in Massachusetts: What We Know Right Now

The latest update on everything you need to know about the COVID-19 virus and the impact it is having locally

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Federal health officials have said the coronavirus, which emerged in December in Wuhan, China, has sickened at least 60 people in the United States.

A total of more than 81,000 cases around the world — mainly in China — have been reported and killed 2,700 globally.

In the past week, the focus has turned more closely to how the deadly virus could impact Massachusetts, and specifically, Boston. Here's what we know so far:

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How many coronavirus cases are there in Massachusetts?

State health officials said last week that they have had 680 people in quarantine so far, meaning they are monitored just in case they present symptoms. While 377 completed their monitoring with no symptoms, 231 are still under self-quarantine in their homes.

So far, there have been only two documented cases of coronavirus in Massachusetts -- a man in his 20s in Suffolk County who had traveled to Wuhan, China, and a new presumptive case involving a woman in her 20s from Norfolk County who recently returned from Italy.

Cases have also been reported nearby in Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

Officials said behind the scenes they are taking a number of "strategic actions" like communicating daily with the CDC and other federal and regional agencies as well as instituting a streamlined organizational system that will facilitate information sharing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these seven tips to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The State Department also added that they are in continuously contact with partners including school health personnel, emergency medial services, college and university health systems.

Officials are engaging Massachusetts hospitals and health system leadership, disseminating guidance and recommendations to school superintendents, monitoring impacts to the supply chain of personal protective equipment and continuing efforts to perform surveillance of potential cases.

Is Massachusetts testing for coronavirus cases yet?

State health officials said Friday that the State Public Health Laboratory has received approval to begin testing patients for COVID-19, in accordance with guidance from the CDC. Clinicians who have patients they think may have symptoms consistent with the coronavirus can contact state health officials to receive authorization to submit specimes for testing. Lab testing will be sped up for anyone under investigation and expedite testing of any confirmed cases in recovery.

“We are pleased that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has now given approval to the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory to begin testing patients for COVID-19, in accordance with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said. "This means clinicians who have patients they think may have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 who meet the current CDC definition of a Person Under Investigation can contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to discuss their patients and receive authorization to submit specimens for testing. This change is good news for Massachusetts as testing at the State Public Health Laboratory will speed up obtaining test results for Persons Under Investigation and expedite ongoing testing of any confirmed case in recovery.”

Are there any coronavirus cases in Boston?

Yes. So far, one of the state's two confirmed cases of coronavirus was in a student in his 20s from UMass Boston who had traveled to Wuhan, China. That person must have two consecutive, negative tests before being cleared, and health officials said they are still waiting for that to happen.

Health officials in Boston and worldwide are dealing with the threat of coronavirus.

Boston health officials said last week that 33 others in the city are also being monitored for coronavirus. None of them have shown any symptoms, but are currently self-quarantined.

Health officials said the risk remains "very low" for Bostonians to contract coronavirus.

What is Massachusetts doing to prepare for a possible coronavirus outbreak?

State officials said they are working around the clock in case more residents get the virus and are in constant contact with federal and local health officials to coordinate the best responses.

Public health officials are monitoring 231 people in Massachusetts for coronavirus. There remains just one confirmed case in the Bay State.

"The facts are going to change, and as the facts change, people need to change with them," Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday.

Asked about the potential impacts on the economy and daily life in the state, Baker pointed to his experiences navigating the state through a bear market early in his first term and the 2015 snowstorms that rocked the state for a month, leading to a week without school for some people.

"We played our way through it," Baker said of the blizzards, adding that he'll be relying on experts' advice through this new, evolving situation.

Officials pointed anyone looking for more information about how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the current risk level in Massachusetts and more to visit a new state website with that information and more.

Boston health officials have also been meeting to get ready, and Boston EMS said its personnel are prepared to treat any calls involving a patient with coronavirus-like symptoms or with a recent travel history to a coronavirus hot spot.

How will it impact major events?

So far, there hasn't been any serious impact on big local events. Though Sony pulled out over coronavirus concerns, the PAX East gaming convention in Boston this weekend is underway.

Concerns about coronavirus haven't stopped thousands of people from showing up to the Pax East Convention in Boston.

And Baker said there are no indications yet that it would have a major impact on the April 20 Boston Marathon. Organizers of the Tokyo Marathon recently said they will limit the race to elite runners and wheelchair athletes because of concerns about the coronavirus.

For more on the coronavirus, including prevention, treatment, and fact sheets, click here.

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