Baker declares state of emergency in Mass. over coronavirus

BOSTON (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts as the number of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus in the state jumped by 51 to 92. Of that number, 70 are connected to a meeting held by biotech company Biogen at a downtown Boston hotel. At least six are currently hospitalized.

Baker said the state of emergency will give him greater power to take actions like shutting down events with large gatherings of people or gaining access to buildings or stockpiling protective gear if needed without getting bogged down in existing paperwork requirements. Baker is also restricting virtually all travel by executive branch employees and encouraging teleworking. There are about 42,000 executive branch workers. Baker urged companies and organizations to consider adopting the same measures.

“At this time the number of people infected and requiring medical attention is very much within our health care system’s capacity,” he said. “The purpose of moving forward with these measures now is to act before the numbers increase.”

Baker, who last week had said the risk of contracting the virus is low, on Tuesday said that given the new numbers of those who have tested positive, the risk of infection has increased.

Baker, who returned early from a vacation in Utah, also urged older individuals to avoid crowded venues like concerts or porting events. State health officials are also urging nursing homes to bar those who have traveled overseas or who are showing symptoms of disease.

Baker also said schools should cancel all out-of-state travel in addition to overseas travel.

This is a developing news story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest details.

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