Presumptive positive coronavirus case in Mass. linked to RI school trip

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The recently reported presumptive positive case of coronavirus in Massachusetts is connected to the two cases reported in Rhode Island, according to state health officials.

The woman in her 20s from Norfolk County tested positive for the virus Monday and is now recovering at home. The case is considered presumptive until it’s confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health officials say the woman was on the same trip coordinated by St. Raphael Academy as the two patients from Rhode Island who tested positive for the virus and the third patient whose test results are pending. The trip, which took place in mid-February, included travel in Italy, where an outbreak of coronavirus is present.

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On Tuesday, the CDC also confirmed the positive test results of one of Rhode Island’s patients, a man in his 40s who is still recovering.

The state’s second presumptive positive case, a teenage girl, is recovering well, according to health officials. Her results have not yet been confirmed by the CDC.

A third patient, a woman in her 30s who works for Achievement First Academy and was a chaperone on the trip, was showing symptoms but her test results came back negative.

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St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket is closed for the remainder of the week. The Achievement First Academy Hartford (Providence) and Garfield (Cranston) campuses were closed Tuesday for cleaning but are expected to reopen Wednesday.

Meadowbrook Farms School in East Greenwich was also closed Tuesday for cleaning after school officials learned the sibling of a student had developed symptoms following a trip to Italy, though the student has not experienced symptoms.

The school is expected to reopen Wednesday.

A teacher at Silver Spring School in East Providence, who’s married to one of the Rhode Islanders who tested positive, is currently self-quarantined, according to Superintendent Kathryn Crowley. So far, she has not experienced any symptoms.

Crowley also said a teacher at the East Providence Career and Technical Center is also self-quarantined after returning from a family vacation to Italy. She hasn’t experienced any symptoms of the virus but said she would contact the school district and the health department if that changes.

In a sharply worded letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield, Rep. David Cicilline criticized the agency’s reporting methods.

“Currently, states are only notified and provided with lists of travelers returning from China, where COVID-19 originated,” Cicilline wrote. “COVID-19 has now spread to 58 countries and it will likely continue to appear in more countries in the weeks and months ahead.”

In the letter, Cicilline urged the CDC to notify states of travelers returning to the United States from countries with reported coronavirus outbreaks.

So far, Rhode Island health officials have tested 12 people for the coronavirus. Six of those tests came back negative while four are pending. State health officials said approximately 60 Rhode Islanders self-quarantined.

There is only one case in Massachusetts confirmed by the CDC, which was reported a month ago when a UMass Boston student who recently returned from Wuhan, China began experiencing symptoms. He has since been released from the hospital.

Anyone who has questions regarding the virus can call the R.I. Department of Health at (401) 222-8022 or visit the department’s website.

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