As coronavirus cases continue to rise globally, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said Wednesday that it has been working closely on the virus response with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The risk of COVID-19 remains low in Massachusetts," Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a conference call. "Our healthcare workers, institutions and public health partners across the Commonwealth are constantly training for the possible emergency of diseases. Massachusetts is prepared for this potential outbreak."
Bharel stressed several times that Massachusetts has had only one confirmed case of COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, when a man returning from Wuhan, China, tested positive in early February. She said the patient is doing well and recovering in self-quarantine at his home.
She said Massachusetts has 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.
In order to prevent the spread of the virus, Bharel said people should take many of the same steps they do to help prevent the cold. These include washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home if you feel sick. Moreover, anyone who gets sick after traveling should notify their healthcare provider about their traveling history.
While in the U.S. the confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 are at 57 as of Tuesday, the CDC announced that the virus almost certainly will begin spreading in communities across the country.
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 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.
Bharel said to check daily latest information and updates on the department website.