BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a State of Emergency on Tuesday due to the ongoing concerns about coronavirus. Baker made the announcement during a press conference at the State House.
Health officials announced on Tuesday there are 51 new cases, bringing the state’s total of positive tests to 92. Of those cases, 70 were connected to a Biogen employee conference at the Marriott Long Wharf in Boston at the end of February.
On Monday, there were 41 cases in the state.
“We believe it’s important to start taking more aggressive action now to mitigate spread based on the information we have available,” Baker said. “There’s no question the efforts to mitigate the spread of this virus will be disruptive. We expect this disruption to continue for the foreseeable future and understand it will cause inconvenience for many. But our goal needs to be to significantly increase efforts to mitigate the spread of this disease now.”
Baker said executive branch employees will discontinue work-related foreign and domestic travel until further notice. Conferences, seminars and other gatherings hosted by executive branch agencies involving external parties will be held virtually or canceled.
“The Commonwealth is one of the largest employers, so we have a significant role to play in mitigating the spread of this virus. We urge all employers and large organizations to follow suit where it is appropriate for them to do so,” Baker said.
WATCH: Gov. Baker Explains State Of Emergency
Baker said older adults and people with health issues should avoid large crowds whenever possible. But the governor said because many of those people need to use the MBTA, efforts to disinfect stations will continue.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is providing local schools with relief from attendance and school year requirements so schools can make decisions to close if the opportunity arises due to coronavirus. The longest any school will be required to go is its 185th scheduled day.
“I would have to say the risk has increased,” said Baker. “But again, that’s part of the reason for the guidance we put out there with respect to the way we think we are going to act as an employer. We would like to see other employers do similar things.”
The last state of emergency for Massachusetts was issued in September 2018 for the Merrimack Valley gas explosions.
“We urge all of our residents to do their part to stay informed to keep the Commonwealth safe and healthy,” Baker said.
Baker echoed what Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said earlier in the day regarding the Boston Marathon, saying a decision will be made at a later date if it will go on. But in general, Baker said “large gatherings probably aren’t a good idea” at the current time.
“I fully expect a decision is going to be made soon,” Baker said.