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Marriott Long Wharf, host of Biogen meeting, to close amid coronavirus concerns

The hotel was the site of a two-day meeting in late February that was the source of most Massachusetts cases of Covid-19 to date.

Guests left the Marriott Long Wharf in Boston on Thursday. Seventy of Massachusetts' first 92 confirmed coronavirus cases have been linked to a meeting of Biogen executives that was held at the hotel in late February. The hotel was closed Thursday citing "new information."
Guests left the Marriott Long Wharf in Boston on Thursday. Seventy of Massachusetts' first 92 confirmed coronavirus cases have been linked to a meeting of Biogen executives that was held at the hotel in late February. The hotel was closed Thursday citing "new information."David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The Marriott Long Wharf hotel, which was the venue for the February Biogen leadership conference linked to dozens of cases of the novel coronavirus here and elsewhere, said on Thursday it will close “in the interest of public health.”

The hotel’s parent company said it had made the decision in consultation with the Boston Public Health Commission, and in response to “new information.” It’s unclear what the new information is and how long the hotel will be closed. Marriott did not provide further details.

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At the hotel on Thursday morning, a security guard ordered press away from the entrance, as customers trickled out of the hotel into waiting cars. Some said management of the facility had arranged other lodging for them.

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The public health commission said the decision was based on “facts obtained through confirmed cases connected to [the] hotel and contact tracing to identify close contacts of those cases.”

Contact tracing is the process of gathering information about people who may have encountered a person with Covid-19 and are at higher risk of becoming infected or of infecting others. Public health nurses follow up with these people to monitor for symptoms and test for infection if symptoms appear.

The health commission did not say what the contact tracing revealed or what this new information means for guests who have been at the hotel in the past two weeks. A spokesman for Biogen said the company could share no new information about the outbreak on Thursday.

The Marriott Long Wharf was the site of a leadership conference on Feb. 26 and 27 that drew an international roster of executives from the Cambridge-based biotech firm Biogen. State officials said Thursday that of the 108 Massachusetts cases of the virus, known as Covid-19, 82 were traced to the Biogen event.

“We appreciate and support the efforts of our public health authorities as they continue their important work to mitigate potential spread of the novel coronavirus,” Marriott said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of our guests is of paramount importance to us.”

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Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @andyrosen. Katie Johnston can be reached at katie.johnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.