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Biogen Conference Linked To 20,000 Massachusetts Coronavirus Cases, Researchers Estimate

BOSTON (CBS) - A new study shows just how far-reaching the coronavirus outbreak at the Biogen conference in Boston last February spread throughout the world. "I do think it speaks to the power of that virus to move from one person to another, to another, to another," said Governor Charlie Baker.

The Broad Institute study shows about 20,000 COVID-19 cases can be traced to the conference that took place at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf. It shows the virus moved very quickly from Boston to Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Michigan, and even Australia. It somehow spread from the conference to Boston's homeless community, and contributed to case-loads in hot-spots like Everett, Revere, and Chelsea.

"In this particular event is was sort of like a perfect storm for a virus like this to spread that quickly," said Tufts Medical Center Infectious Disease physician, Dr. Gabriela Andujar Vasquez. She said the study offers insight for schools and colleges planning on reopening. "Maybe with more people in the indoor setting, if masks and hygiene and social distancing happen in that setting, then we mitigate that risk."

Biogen employees helped researchers with the study. In a statement, Biogen executives said, "February 2020 was nearly a half year ago, and was a period when general knowledge about the coronavirus was limited…We never would have knowingly put anyone at risk."

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