Massachusetts' Governor Charlie Baker declared an emergency after the state's coronavirus cases more than doubled overnight, surging by 51 new cases.
"Today there are 51 new presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed or presumptive positive cases in the commonwealth to 92," said Marylou Sudders, secretary of Massachusetts' health and human services.
Sudders said 70 of the total cases all stem from a meeting of senior managers at Biogen Inc. in the Boston area late last month. Presumptive positive cases have been confirmed by state or local labs, but not by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The declaration of an emergency gives the state more flexibility to respond to the evolving outbreak, Baker said.
"We believe it's important to start taking more aggressive action now to mitigate spread based on the information we have available. There's no question that 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," Baker said during a press conference.
Baker added that the state's department of public health would provide guidance to local superintendents on how to address cases that arrive at schools, including closures.
Earlier in the day, Harvard University told its students that it would hold all classes online for the remainder of the spring term and instructed students to vacate campus by Sunday.
Massachusetts, where Harvard is located, had one confirmed case of COVID-19 and 40 presumptive cases as of Tuesday morning, according to the state's department of public health. There are currently 249 people undergoing monitoring or under quarantine in the state.
The decision comes as COVID-19 has swept across the U.S., infecting at least 805 in the U.S. and killing at least 28 as of Tuesday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.