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Guide Information on the Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated as of February 21, 2020.

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Recently, a new coronavirus—2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus—was detected in Wuhan, China. This novel coronavirus causes a respiratory (lung) infection. As of February 21, there has been one confirmed case of this novel coronavirus in Massachusetts.

The risk to residents in Massachusetts remains low.

As of February 21, CDC is updating United States case counts based on repatriated individuals. For the latest on case counts, visit the CDC website.

While person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected with this virus, at this time this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.

The novel coronavirus has resulted in thousands of confirmed human infections, primarily in China, with a small proportion of cases resulting in death. Other countries, including the United States, have identified a small but growing number of cases in people who have traveled to China.

Symptoms of this infection include:

  • fever
  • cough and shortness of breath, and
  • in severe cases, pneumonia (fluid in the lungs).

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is working closely with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more and will provide updated information on this website as it becomes available as well as guidance for the public.

(Note: On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization named the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The virus causing the disease has been named SARS-CoV-2. DPH will be updating this website and other materials to reflect the updated names.)

Travelers from China arriving in the United States

To slow the spread of 2019 novel coronavirus into the United States, CDC is working with public health partners to implement new travel procedures announced in a Presidential Proclamation on Novel Coronavirus. In summary:

  1. Foreign nationals who have visited China in the past 14 days may not enter the United States.
  2. American citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their families who have been in China in the past 14 days will be allowed to enter the United States, but will be redirected to one of 11 airports to undergo health screening. Logan International Airport is not one of these 11 designated airports.Depending on their health and travel history, they will have some level of restrictions on their movements for 14 days from the time they left China.

If you are in the second group above and are traveling to the United States:

  • Your travel will be redirected to one of 11 U.S. airports where CDC has quarantine stations.
  • You will be asked about your health and travel.
  • Your health will be screened for fever, cough, or trouble breathing.

Depending on your health and travel history:

  • You will have some restrictions on your movement for a period of 14 days from the time you left China.
  • You will be contacted by state or local public health authorities upon your return to provide you details on your movement restrictions and monitoring requirements.

Please check CDC for the travel updates:

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses; some cause illness in people and some occur in animals, including camels, civet cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then may spread between people. Human coronaviruses cause routine seasonal respiratory virus infections. Other coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, can cause serious illnesses.

How do coronaviruses spread?

Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses and are generally spread through respiratory secretions (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person. Information about how this novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads is still limited. We know that outbreaks of new virus infections among people are always of public health concern and are working to make sure you have all the information you need to understand what is happening and how to protect yourself and your family.

What do we know about the source and spread of COVID-19?

Chinese health officials have reported tens of thousands of cases of COVID-19 in China, with the virus reportedly spreading from person to person in parts of that country. COVID-19 illnesses, most of them associated with travel from Wuhan, also are being reported in a growing number of international locations, including the United States. Some person-to-person spread of this virus outside China has been detected. The United States reported the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread with this virus on January 30, 2020.

Early on, many of the patients in the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Chinese officials report that sustained person-to-person spread in the community is occurring in China. Person-to-person spread has been reported outside China, including in the United States and other countries. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses.


Although the risk to residents of Massachusetts is low, many of the things you do to help prevent colds and the flu can help protect you against other respiratory viruses:

  • 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.

There are currently no vaccines available to protect against this novel coronavirus infection.

Should I wear a mask when I go out in public?

The health risk to Massachusetts residents remains low and at this time we are not recommending 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.


At this time there is no specific treatment for this novel coronavirus. Antiviral medications used to treat other types of viruses are being used but their efficacy is not known at this time.

For health care providers/EMS

Clinicians who see patients with recent travel to China who have a fever, lower respiratory tract symptoms (such as shortness of breath and cough), and/or contact with a known novel coronavirus patient, should contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) 24/7 at (617) 983-6800 for assistance. Further clinical guidance can be found in these CDC advisories:

For Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs)

New interim guidance for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus issued by CDC: CDC’s Interim Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) for 2019-nCoV in the United States 

Printable fact sheets

For more information

The most updated information is available from the CDC: 2019 Novel Coronavirus 

Additional Resources for For more information