HHS Secretary: 1 Confirmed, 7 Presumptive Coronavirus Cases In Mass

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Speaking at a press conference Friday afternoon, officials updated the number of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts.

There are now seven presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth. Of those, five are tied to a leadership meeting held at the Long Wharf Marriot Hotel in Boston last week by Cambridge-based biotech company Biogen.

Mary Martinez, Chief of the Mayor's Office of Health and Human Services, said Mayor Walsh's administration is working with Long Wharf to look at cleaning protocols and procedures to mitigate any risks.

"We're not talking about an airborne, we're talking about folks who are in close contact, and that's how the virus spreads," he said. "The Marriot has had a deep cleaning process in place for the past six weeks, so they were already very prepared. They were already doing that. We've already met with them to make sure that they are informed and understand what they can do to keep the place clean and healthy."

These presumptive cases are in addition to the sole CDC-confirmed case in the state. All together, there are eight Massachusetts cases.

"There are four in Suffolk County, there are three in Norfolk County, and there is one in Middlesex County," Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said.

On Thursday afternoon, Biogen confirmed to WBZ NewsRadio that three of their employees tested positive for coronavirus after traveling to Boston for a meeting. One of those cases was the one announced by Tennessee officials Thursday as their state's first, a man who had traveled through Logan Airport. The other two, Sudders said Friday, live in Norfolk County.

Friday's cases included three additional Biogen employees living in Boston. They are two women and one man in their 40s, who are self-isolating. Two are showing symptoms of the virus.

Gov. Charlie Baker reminded residents to do their part by following simple steps they've already heard, such as washing their hands, practicing good hygiene, and staying home from work if sick.

"I think we all know that this is stressful for people, but health experts have advised that a virus like this is not deadly for the vast majority of people who may get it," Baker said. "But as Director Martinez said, it is contagious, and if someone comes in direct contact with someone who has it, they might get it themselves."

Earlier in the week, Baker's administration urged schools and colleges to cancel organized international trips in an effort to combat the spread of the virus.

Sudders said officials were staying current with testing for the virus.

"We have the capacity to test 40-50 a day, and we have the ability to return tests back within no later than 24 hours," Sudders said.

The first confirmed case in Massachusetts was a UMass student who had recently returned from Wuhan, China, the center of the outbreak. Officials say he is recovering.

"We are happy to hear that the UMass student, our City’s first diagnosed case of coronavirus, is doing well, and continues to self-isolate in his off campus dorm," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a tweet Friday.

WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports

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