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Baltimore school sends home students who may have had contact with coronavirus patient

Baltimore school sends home students who may have had contact with coronavirus patient
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A Baltimore school sent three students home on Wednesday who may have come in contact with a patient who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Bnos Yisroel, a private all-girls Jewish school, sent an email to parents saying that the three girls had “possible indirect contact” with a person who was diagnosed with coronavirus in New York, according to a recent statement from the school obtained by The Hill. 

"We have been made aware of possible indirect contact between three of our students (sisters) and someone who tested positive for the Coronavirus in New York. We have been in touch with the Baltimore City Health Department, the CDC, the Department of Health and Local Rabbanim. Per their recommendations, the three students were sent home earlier today," the statement read. 

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Baltimore Rabbi Ariel Sadwin told The Baltimore Sun that this person contracted the virus from the second person confirmed with the coronavirus in the state, a man in Westchester County, N.Y. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Wednesday that the Westchester man’s wife, son, daughter and neighbor who drove him to the hospital all tested positive for the virus. The girls had been at an event in New York where the neighbor had been. 

The state and city health departments recommended the school, which has students from prekindergarten to 12th grade, to send the girls home. School officials told parents in an email obtained by the Sun and CBS Baltimore that the school was being disinfected as a “precautionary measure.”

The email also said the students would not return to school until they were cleared by the health department and will be closely monitored. 

The all-girls school will remain open, but officials encouraged parents to continue to take precautions such as washing one’s hands and having students stay home if they feel sick.

“As this situation is evolving, we will notify you immediately if anything changes,” the school wrote in the email.

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The Baltimore City Health Department told The Hill in a statement that the students "potentially had been in close contact" with a person who tested positive. The department said it had protocols ready to contain the virus and began its public health investigation.

The investigation and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and both health departments led to officials deciding the school can stay open, the statement said.

"Protocols were followed and the students were promptly isolated and removed from the school while the investigation continued," the statement read.

"We will continue to monitor the situation, and coordinate with the school," it added.

In a statement to The Hill, the Maryland Department of Health said that it was not involved in the decisions made by schools in Maryland and referred to the CDC's guidance for institutions that may have come in contact with the virus. A spokesperson for the department also said that it is tracking "those who meet the testing criteria for COVID-19" in the state and are updating numbers daily. 

In Maryland, 31 people have been tested for coronavirus. No one has tested positive for the disease so far, although 14 people are still awaiting their results, according to state health department data

The virus has spread to 18 states as of Thursday afternoon, with recent cases in Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee and Texas. Eleven people have died in the U.S. because of the virus, with 10 deaths in Washington state and one death in California.

More than 200 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., among almost 98,000 worldwide. More than 3,300 people have died globally, while more than 53,000 have recovered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Updated March 5, 9:05 p.m.