Baker public health commissioner tests positive

Bharel one of top state officials responding to COVID-19 crisis

DR. MONICA BHAREL, the commissioner of the state Department of Public Health and one of Gov. Charlie Baker’s top lieutenants in the battle against COVID-19, has tested positive for the disease.

In her capacity, she has come in contact with most of the top officials in the Baker administratrion, including the governor and lieutenant governor. She regularly appeared along side Marylou Sudders, the secretary of health and human services, in meetings and at briefings with the press.

“I want to notify the public that I have tested positive for COVID-19,” she said in a statement Friday evening. “I was tested Thursday night and received the results back today from the state Public Health Laboratory. As the public health commissioner and an essential state employee, I have been vigilant about practicing social distancing from my colleagues and members of the public. My symptoms so far have been mild. I have notified my appropriate close contacts and will rest and recuperate at home, while continuing to carry out my work responsibilities remotely. The Department of Public Health offices will be thoroughly cleaned over the weekend. I hope everyone will continue to take seriously the threat of COVID-19.”

Gov. Charlie Baker also issued a statement saying he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito wish her a speedy recovery. “Dr. Bharel is doing exactly what everyone should be doing, which is staying home if you feel sick and taking this virus very seriously,” he said