What to Know
- Out of an abundance of caution, the Central Bucks School District closed five schools Friday after some school children and staff were exposed to a confirmed case of the new coronavirus at a private event.
- The closure includes Central Bucks South High School, Butler Elementary School, Titus Elementary School, Tamanend Middle School and Tohickon Middle School. All indoor after-school activities throughout the district were also canceled Friday.
- There are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. One in Delaware County.
Five schools in the Central Bucks School District in the Philadelphia suburbs were closed Friday after a group of children and staff within the district were exposed to a confirmed case of the new coronavirus by an out-of-state guest.
In a statement posted to the district’s website, CBSD said the closures were due to “an abundance of caution.”
Health officials said those exposed, which include multiple children and staff who attend or work at the schools, had contact nearly two weeks ago with an asymptomatic person from out of state who was later confirmed to have COVID-19.
"At the time of that gathering, it was not known to anyone, including the out-of-state attendee, that the person was ill," Bucks County said in a news release.
"We have quarantined all people from the event for the rest of the 14-day period since the event and will test anyone who becomes symptomatic," County Health Department Director Dr. David Damsker told NBC10. Damsker added that the people are self-quarantined.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday afternoon that it was a Maryland resident who came in contact with the school children and staff. The patient had recently returned from a cruise to Egypt.
"After learning this, Maryland health officials notified health officials in Pennsylvania," Hogan said.
A Bucks County spokesman said Friday evening that an investigation by county and state health officials found no evidence of the virus among those who came in contact with the traveler.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced the first two presumed positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Pennsylvania earlier in the day. One of those cases is a woman home-quarantining in Delaware County, another Philadelphia area suburb. None of those announced cases were linked to the Bucks County school closure, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said.
On Friday afternoon, school district Superintendent Dr. John Kopicki announced the cancellation of all indoor after-school activities and practices throughout the massive district through the weekend.
"It is important to reiterate that there are no known or reported cases of coronavirus in Central Bucks School District or Bucks County," Kopicki said in an earlier letter sent to Central Bucks families.
The district and Bucks County health officials learned of the exposure late Thursday night, Kopicki said. Officials announced the closures Friday morning.
The school closure included Central Bucks South High School, which has about 1,800 student, two middle schools and two elementary schools.
“Late last evening CBSD was made aware that individuals within the district were exposed to a confirmed case of Coronavirus," the districts statement said. "After consulting with local and state health authorities, and out of an abundance of caution, CBSD has decided to close five schools today, March 6, 2020. Butler, CB South, Titus, Tohickon and Tamanend will be closed today for students, teachers and staff.”
Damsker said that the school closures are just for Friday, "right now."
All 23 schools in the district will be deep cleaned through the weekend. So will all school buses.
To prevent the spread of any virus, people are urged to wash their hands often with warm soapy water, avoid touching their face, avoid close contact with sick people and stay home when feeling sick.
“We want people in Bucks County to be aware of the situation, but not panicked,” Damsker said in a prepared statement. “We want our residents to continue taking all of the common-sense approaches that we take with influenza, with respect to hand-washing often, not touching your face, avoiding sick people and not going to work when sick. Please perform these steps both at home and at work."
New Jersey also has its first two presumptive positive cases of the novel coronavirus, New Jersey Acting Governor Sheila Oliver said Thursday.
The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has climbed to 14, with all but one victim in Washington state, while the number of infections has increased to over 200 across 18 states.
The coronavirus has infected around 100,000 people worldwide and killed over 3,400, the vast majority of them in China. Most cases have been mild, and more than half of those infected have recovered.
The CDC has issued guidance on coronavirus that include symptoms to look for and self-monitoring tips.