6.8 min readBy Published On: January 22nd, 2021Categories: News0 Comments on Recap of Mayor Marty Walsh’s Press Briefing from 1/22

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Friday, January 22.

Moment of silence for Hank Aaron

  • The Mayor began by honoring baseball legend Henry “Hank” Aaron, who passed away on Friday at the age of 86.

Announcement about the 2021 Medal of Honor Convention:

  • The Mayor announced that the Congressional Medal of Honor Society is planning to host its annual convention and Patriot Award Dinner in Boston later this year. This will be the fourth time the Convention has been in Boston, meaning Boston will have hosted it more times than any other city.

  • The Mayor said that it is a great honor for our City to host our bravest and most valiant heroes, and he hopes that Boston will be able to host a smaller-scale convention in the fall, if the public health data shows that it’s safe. The City of Boston will provide more details later this year.

  • The Mayor was joined by Tom Lyons, Vietnam Marine Corps veteran and Chairman of the Boston Congressional Medal of Honor Society Host Committee; Tom Kelley, a retired Navy Captain and Medal of Honor recipient; and Boston’s Commissioner of Veterans Services Robert Santiago. Tom Kelley also offered remarks about the announcement. His remarks can be viewed at this link.

COVID-19 cases:

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts on Thursday reported 4,821 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 462,910 cases. The state reported 75 new deaths, for a total of 13,622 people who have passed away due to COVID-19.

  • The City of Boston today reported 485 new cases, for a total of 50,325 cases. The total number of deaths remains at 1,113.

Our latest complete test data is for the week ending January 14:

  • An average of 5,594 people were tested each day. That is down slightly compared to the week before and does not include college testing.

  • The average number of positive tests each day was 447.9, also down from the week before.

  • Our current community positivity rate was 7.5%. That is lower than the week before.

  • The Mayor said that we’ve seen positive test rates go down in almost every single neighborhood, and we’re seeing some improvement in our numbers, as they start to stabilize. However, our overall case numbers are still concerning, and our hospital numbers are higher than we’d like as well.

  • Our COVID hospital admissions are slightly down from the previous week, but the percentage of our adult Non-Surge ICU Beds occupied remains high, at 99%. Hospitals can add surge beds if necessary, and go beyond 100% of normal usage. The Mayor said that the City is in constant contact with our hospitals to support them, and help preserve their capacity.

New COVID variant:

  • This weekend, the first case of the new COVID variant was detected in a Boston resident who traveled internationally, and another Massachusetts resident has also tested positive for the variant.

  • The Boston Public Health Commission’s Infectious Disease Bureau is working closely with the state’s Department of Public Health to monitor this situation.

  • The Mayor said that the health and well being of our residents remains our top priority, and he shared information that is known about this new COVID variant: There is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. However, it spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. A higher transmission rate will lead to more cases, and could potentially burden our healthcare system.

  • That being said, everyone must double down on the precautions we’re taking to slow the spread of the virus. That includes wearing a mask outside your home, keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and others, avoiding gatherings, washing your hands often, and continuing to get tested.

Update on COVID testing:

  • The Mayor continued to emphasize the importance of getting tested. There are more than 30 testing sites citywide. We also have mobile sites which are free and open to all, regardless of symptoms.This week they are:

  • In Hyde Park, at Boston Renaissance Charter School. This site is drive-thru only, and appointments are required.

  • In Roxbury, at Washington Park Mall. This is a walk-up site and registration is required.

  • In Grove Hall, at Prince Hall Grand Lodge. This is a walk-up site with on-site registration.

  • In Jamaica Plain, at the Anna Cole Community Center. This is a walk-up site and no appointment or registration are required.

  • Dates and times vary, so visit Boston.gov or call 3-1-1 for complete details.

Updates on the State’s reopening plan:

  • Yesterday, the State made some adjustments to the statewide reopening plan. They are lifting the Stay At Home Order between the hours of 10 pm to 5 am, effective Monday, January 25. Also effective Monday is the lifting of the Early Closure Order, which requires certain businesses to close by 9:30 pm. The state is also extending the temporary limit on capacity and gatherings, currently at 25%, until February 8th.

  • The Mayor said that the State’s lifting of early closing times will apply to businesses in Boston. However, the list of allowed in-person activities will continue to be subject to the City of Boston’s temporary rollback to Phase 2. As a reminder, Boston extended this rollback to at least January 27.

  • For a full list of what activities and businesses are allowed in the City of Boston in our modified Phase 2, Step 2, go to Boston.gov.

  • The Mayor said that the City of Boston’s rollback is an effort to slow the spread of the virus, protect hospital capacity, and avoid a more severe shutdown later on. He reiterated that the City is taking a cautious approach, and doing what’s right for Boston. City leadership and public health officials continue to evaluate the situation, and will provide an update on whether this pause will end or continue next week.

Update on vaccine distribution:

  • The Mayor said that the City of Boston continues to work with the State to implement an equitable vaccine distribution plan. The full schedule of vaccine distribution can be found at Mass.gov.

  • Earlier this week, the State announced a new vaccine partnership with CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, as well as expanded vaccine location sites. Fenway Park will open as the second mass vaccination site on February 1st. They plan to start administering up to 500 vaccines per day to eligible residents in the Phase One priority groups.

  • Yesterday, the Boston Public Health Commission held a virtual COVID-19 vaccine information session to address concerns and questions about the vaccine. We will post a recording online in the next few days. Next week, on January 28, this session will be held in Spanish. You can tune in at bphc.org.

  • The Mayor said this about the importance of getting vaccinated:

“We urge everyone to get the vaccine when it’s your turn. It’s safe. And it’s one of the best things you can do to protect your family, community, and yourself.

We understand that some people are hesitant to take this vaccine. That is especially true in Black and Latino communities. There’s no doubt that throughout history, communities of color have faced discrimination, manipulation, and outright cruelty in the healthcare system. It’s a tragic outcome of systemic racism in our country. This has been a focus of our Health Inequities Taskforce. We’re talking to residents about their concerns, and we’re building that trust.

COVID-19 has hit communities of color the hardest. The economic fallout has hit communities of color hardest. We don’t want communities of color to miss out on this vaccine, because it is the best tool we have to put this pandemic behind us and begin to heal. The City of Boston will continue to empower local residents to share information in their communities, and in their languages, to make sure everyone has the facts about the vaccines.

I urge everyone to get it when your time comes, and I thank everyone who has taken it already.”

  • The Mayor then invited Dr. Thea James of Boston Medical Center to address some of the specific concerns that communities of color have regarding vaccination, and EMS Deputy Superintendent Janell Jimenez to discuss the City’s efforts to vaccinate first responders. Their remarks can be viewed at this link.

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