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Coronavirus

City Confirms First Presumptive Positive COVID-19 Case

One of the presumptive positive cases of the COVID-19 virus associated with the Biogen employee conference last month in Boston is a Quincy woman, Mayor Thomas P. Koch and Commissioner of Public Health Ruth Jones confirmed today.

The woman, in her 40s, is isolated and recovering well at home and is being monitored by the Quincy Department of Public Health. The patient appears to have had little community exposure since falling ill, and has no connection with Quincy Public Schools, officials said.

“This is nothing unexpected or unanticipated, and the threat to the general public remains quite low. That does not mean we do not take it seriously, and we are confirming this local case to provide as much information to our residents as possible. Commissioner Jones and our entire team is fully engaged with our partners and state and federal authorities in a methodical, rational response to both prevention and containment,” said Mayor Koch.

“The public discourse can sometimes be heavily weighted to the two extremes, and that’s what we are going to avoid. There is no reason to overreact and amplify fears people may have, but at the same time, our residents and families should be prepared for some level of disruption to their daily lives in the coming weeks. It’s nothing we can’t get through,” Koch said.

Commissioner Jones noted that the virus, much like the flu, is potentially dangerous for vulnerable populations like seniors and those with underlying health conditions. In most cases, however, symptoms have been relatively minor to date, she said.

She added: “Our community should have great confidence that a group of dedicated, talented professionals from a wide range of disciplines in both the public and private sectors are actively involved in our response to this situation. We do not ring alarm bells, we protect the health and well-being of our residents. That mission doesn’t change,’

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) on Sunday announced 15 new presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, including the Quincy resident, bringing the total number of confirmed or presumptive positive cases in Massachusetts to 28.

All 15 cases had a direct connection to the Biogen employee conference in late February. The presumptive positive cases include five from Suffolk County ranging in age from 30s to 60s; five from Middlesex County ranging in age from 40s to 60s; four cases from Norfolk County ranging in age from 40s to 60s; and a female whose age and county of residence are unknown at the time of this release. Among these presumptive positive cases were eight men and seven women.

With this release, 23 of the presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 identified in Massachusetts are associated with the Biogen employee meeting held in late February. All of these presumptive positive cases are isolating at home.

On March 7, 2020, DPH announced five new presumptive positive cases, three of which had a direct connection to Biogen’s employee conference, one with recent international travel, and a fifth case for whom there is no current known linkage to the Biogen conference or foreign travel.

The State Public Health Lab’s result is considered “presumptive positive” and the specimens will now be sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation.

Since the onset of the coronavirus, local health departments have been monitoring residents that returned from China and Iran, with a 14-day self-isolation period. None of those being monitored in Quincy have had any symptoms of the virus. This practice will continue per the guidance of state and federal authorities.

Additionally, those returning from several other countries that are now at Level 3 travel restrictions (the same as China and Iran) will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days, monitoring their temperature and symptoms twice daily, and are advised to call their local health department if deviations occur, such as temperature greater than 100.4, chills, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, headache/muscle aches, diarrhea or vomiting. These countries are Italy and South Korea.

The DPH has also urged all schools and colleges to cancel any trips abroad for the present time period, and advises everyone to avoid non-essential travel to any Level 3 restricted countries.

Many of the things you do to help prevent colds and the flu can help protect you against other respiratory viruses such as Coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Stay home if you are sick. If you are ill call your healthcare provider for instructions before going to a clinic, office or emergency room.

There are currently no vaccines available to protect against this novel coronavirus infection. It is not recommended that people wear masks when they are in public. Masks can be useful in some settings, such as a clinic waiting room, to prevent someone who has a respiratory illness from spreading it to others. There is no hard evidence that wearing a mask protects the wearer outside of the healthcare setting.

For more information visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html or the state’s website at www.mass.gov

Residents with questions can call the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services at 617-376-1500 or the Quincy Health Department at 617-376-1272.