State monitoring hundreds for possible symptoms of new virus
BOSTON (AP) — A rundown of coronavirus-related developments in Massachusetts:
NUMBER OF CASES UP SLIGHTLY
The number of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus in Massachusetts has ticked up slightly from 92 to 95, the state Department of Public Health said Wednesday.
Of the 95, the vast majority — 77 — are connected to a meeting held by the biotech firm Biogen at a downtown Boston hotel last month.
Of all those who have tested positive, at least eight have been hospitalized.
The spike in people testing positive for the virus prompted Republican Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday to declare a state of emergency in Massachusetts, giving him greater power to take actions like shutting down events with large gatherings of people or stockpiling protective gear.
HUNDREDS BEING MONITORED FOR VIRUS
Public health officials in Massachusetts said Wednesday that they are monitoring more than 445 people under self-quarantine for possible symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
That’s up from the 249 who were in isolation last week.
Another 638 who had been in isolation have since completed monitoring and are no longer in quarantine.
State public health officials have said those in quarantine should remain at home for two weeks and take their temperature daily — updating local health officials if they develop a fever, cough or other symptoms.
Those in self-quarantine include individuals who have traveled to countries like China or Italy or who have had contact with individuals who have tested positive for the virus.
UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS — VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION
All five campuses of the University of Massachusetts will be switching to a virtual mode of instruction beginning Monday, using web, video and teleconferencing tools.
UMass President Marty Meehan said Wednesday that as a result of the decision, most of the university’s 75,000 students will not be on campus for a period that will last at least through April 3.
Meehan said school officials will work with state and federal public health experts to determine the next steps needed to protect the university’s 75,000 students and 18,000 faculty and staff.
UMass is following many other colleges and universities in Massachusetts that have switched to virtual teaching.
JFK LIBRARY CLOSING TO PUBLIC
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is closing to visitors until further notice after learning two of its employees attended a conference last week where other attendees were confirmed to have come down with the new coronavirus.
Library officials said Wednesday that neither of the library employees have shown symptoms and are currently in self-quarantine. Library officials are advising anyone who visited the library between March 2 and March 11 to monitor their health.
All forums and other public and private events including school visits held at the Library have been cancelled for now.
The Massachusetts Statehouse is remaining open to the public for now.
Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s office said in a letter to lawmakers and staff that the House is continuing to closely monitor the new coronavirus situation and is working to protect employees and visitors.
White the building will remain open, DeLeo’s office said the House is cancelling all public events at the Statehouse for the foreseeable future.
Boston’s jail system is suspending all inmate visits.
Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins’ office said Wednesday that the only people allowed to visit its facilities will be attorneys for inmates.
The office will also be restricting visits from volunteers and staff from outside programs and activities, he said.
The jail system includes the Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay, which has about 1,000 male and female inmates, and the Nashua Street Jail, which has about 700 inmates.
ABOUT THE VIRUS
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.