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Cambridge Public Health Department Announces New COVID-19 Cases, as of March 16, 2020

March 16, 2020

The Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) announced that four additional Cambridge residents have tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), as of March 16 at 5 pm:
  • Two residents in their 30s (presumptive)
  • One resident in their 50s (presumptive)
  • One resident in their 70s (presumptive)
A total of seven Cambridge residents have tested positive for COVID-19, as of March 16 at 5 pm. Four of the seven cases are linked to the Biogen leadership meeting that was held in Boston in late February. One of the seven cases has been hospitalized.
The Cambridge Public Health Department is notified of new cases by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as laboratory results become available. CPHD public health nurses begin contact tracing immediately upon notification. Individuals who receive a positive test result from a Massachusetts laboratory are considered “presumptive positive” pending confirmatory testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Statewide, a total of 197 Massachusetts residents have tested positive for COVID-19, as of March 16. 

Current risk in Massachusetts, as of March 16

The potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is very high, in the United States and globally. COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts continue to rise due to increased community transmission and increased testing.
  • On Sunday, March 15, state health officials announced that there was now evidence of community spread in seven Massachusetts counties: Berkshire, Essex, Hampden, Norfolk, Middlesex, Suffolk, and Worcester. This means residents are contracting the illness but the specific source of the infection is unknown.
  • Groups considered at higher risk for exposure to the coronavirus than the general population include:
    • People who have close contact with individuals with COVID-19.
    • People who work in health care settings, particularly those caring for COVID-19 patients.
    • People who have recently returned (past 14 days) from areas of the U.S. where there is ongoing community spread of the virus, which now includes Massachusetts. 
    • People who have recently returned (past 14 days) from any of the “high risk” (level 3) countries identified by the CDC.  As of March 15, these countries included China, Iran, Italy and most of Europe, and South Korea. For the most current information, see the CDC's COVID-19 international travel advisories

Social Distancing Guidance 

On March 15, Governor Baker announced unprecedented measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth. The goal of these restrictions are to keep people apart from each other to help prevent overwhelming hospitals with an influx of seriously ill patients. 
“We know that the recent closures and cancellations will have a profound impact on businesses and jobs, and our everyday lives.  The economic and social sacrifices that you are being asked to make are significant.  But limiting our contact with others is the single most effective way to contain the spread of this virus in Cambridge and our state,” said Claude Jacob, the city’s Chief Public Health Officer and Director of the Cambridge Public Health Department.
The Cambridge Public Health Department continues to urge Cambridge employers to take immediate actions to protect workers, including:
  • Implementing telework policies so that workers are not congregating in workplaces. 
  • For workers who must be physically present in a workplace (e.g., health care and long-term care workers, public safety personnel, pharmacy and supermarket employees), employers can help ensure their safety by:
    • Strongly discouraging older employees (age 60+) and those with chronic health conditions from coming into the workplace.
    • Following recommendations for social distancing (keeping an approximate 6 foot distance from other people), recognizing that this will not be achievable in all settings. 
    • Ensuring that soap/sanitizers are available and that participants engage in proper handwashing and hand-hygiene practices.
    • Ensuring that cleaning and disinfection guidelines for COVID-19 are followed. 
For the most current information, please visit the following COVID-19 websites:
If residents have health-related concerns or questions, they should contact their doctor’s office. For other COVID-19 questions, please contact Massachusetts 211:
  • Telephone: Dial 2-1-1 to reach the Massachusetts COVID-19 Information and Referral Hotline. The call center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are free and confidential. Interpreter services are available in multiple languages.  
  • Online: Go to the  Massachusetts 2-1-1 website for a live chat: https://mass211.org

Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer

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Cambridge Public Health Department
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