7.5 min readBy Published On: December 17th, 2020Categories: News0 Comments

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.


COVID-19 cases and testing data:  

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts today reported 5,450 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 292,316 cases. The state reported 71 new deaths, for a total of 11,261 people who have passed away due to COVID-19. 

  • The City of Boston today reported 408 new cases, for a total of 34,143 cases. The City reported 3 new deaths, bringing the total to 963. 

  • For the week ending on December 10, we had an average of 5,100 people tested each day. The average number of positive tests each day for Boston residents was 434.That number has remained steady in December. Our community positivity rate was 7.9%. This metric has continued to gradually increase. 

  • We have over 30 testing sites in the City of Boston, and our mobile testing sites are free and open to all, regardless of symptoms. But our mobile sites and many others will be closed tomorrow (Thursday) due to the storm. So as always, call ahead if you are looking to get tested. For information, visit Boston.gov/Coronavirus or call 311.

Updates on hospital capacity:

  • The Mayor said that the number of COVID patients in our hospitals has continued to rise and, as we expected, the latest data has crossed our thresholds for concern on some metrics. 

  • Daily Emergency Room visits for COVID-19 have gone up for eight days in a row. That’s a concern. The number of available adult hospital beds has gone down, and that’s a concern. Our hospitals are not in danger, at the moment, of being overwhelmed, but the trend is concerning. 

  • This data confirms why we moved Boston back into a temporary, modified Phase 2, Step 2 of the reopening plan, in coordination with other cities and towns. The Mayor said, “Our focus is to keep the people of Boston safe. That’s what every decision we make is about. We have to reduce opportunities for COVID transmission so fewer people get sick, and so hospitals can continue to treat everyone, whether they have COVID or any other serious condition. That’s the path to a strong recovery for our city.”

Start of three-week period in Phase 2, Step 2: 

  • The Mayor noted that Phase 2 restrictions begin today. Details can be found at boston.gov/reopening

  • He emphasized that the key word for Phase 2 is “caution” and said, “caution is what we need everyone to use, every single day.” He asked residents to only leave home for essential errands and activities that meet the guidelines for social distance and gathering limits of 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors. Outside your home, and especially at local businesses, he asked everyone to wear a mask, keep six feet of distance, and to not spend more time than necessary at indoor locations. 

  • The Mayor asked Bostonians to make plans now to celebrate the holidays with only your current household, calling a cautious holiday “the most important thing we can do to put ourselves in position for a strong January.” 

  • He acknowledged that the rollback into Phase 2 is tough on many small businesses and cultural organizations. He thanked them for their cooperation and support in a very difficult time, and encouraged everyone to support small businesses safely, however you can.

  • So far, he said, the City has distributed $11.5 million in grants to diverse small businesses and restaurants, and will continue to make financial support and guidance available. For more information visit boston.gov/SmallBusiness or email [email protected].

Snowstorm preparations: 

  • The Mayor urged everyone to be prepared for tonight’s snowstorm, which is forecast to be the first major snow event in our city since March of 2019, over 21 months ago.

  • The National Weather Service has announced a Winter Storm Warning in effect from 7 p.m. tonight to 1 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday), and a Coastal Flood Advisory from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow. 

  • Heavy snow is expected, with totals between nine and 13 inches, and possibly up to 15 inches, with snow levels potentially varying in different parts of the City. Wind will be high tonight, with gusts up to 45 miles per hour. We expect the storm to be followed by very cold temperatures Thursday night and Friday night. 

  • The Mayor said that the City is prepared for all the safety issues this weather presents, and he asked residents to take personal precautions as well. 

  • The Mayor announced that a Snow Emergency will go into effect at 6 p.m. on Wednesday in the City of Boston. 

    • Parking will be banned on main roads, to allow our Public Works team to clear snow and ice. 

    • Parking is also banned in Boston Public School lots. 

    • The City has made discounted parking available at public garages and lots across the city. 

    • You can find information about the parking options and all our storm resources at Boston.gov/Snow

  • The Mayor said that the City of Boston’s Public Works Department is prepared for this storm.  

    • DPW has 150 pieces of equipment, and the ability to put over 600 pieces on the road in total.  

    • Crews will start spreading salt Wednesday evening, and begin plowing later in the night as snow accumulates.

    • Procedures are in place to ensure COVID safety, with employees and contractors starting shifts in the field, to avoid gatherings at Public Works facilities. 

  • With heavy snow, ice, and poor driving conditions expected during the Thursday morning commute, the Mayor asked residents to stay off the roads, in order to be safe and to allow plowing crews to do their jobs. 

    • If you must travel, use public transportation and remember to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and follow all the guidelines. 

    • If you must be on the road, drive cautiously and leave room for our crews to work and clear the snow. 

  • Closures and delays related to the Snow Emergency include:

    • All Boston Public School buildings will be closed for in-person learning. Schools will be fully remote and will end two-and-a-half hours earlier than regular dismissal time for each school.  

    • BPS meal pickup sites will not be open tomorrow. The pickup day was moved up to today, and BPS alerted families of that change. 

    • Trash collection scheduled for Thursday will be postponed until Friday; and Friday’s collection will be on Saturday. 

    • Boston City Hall and 1010 Mass. Ave. will be closed tomorrow for public business. All scheduled appointments will be cancelled, with the opportunity to reschedule. 

    • BCYF community centers are closed, and in-person programming is cancelled. 

    • Boston Public Library branches will be closed, including the item pickup services that are part of BPL-to-Go. 

  • The Mayor asked residents to do their part to keep the City safe.  

  • Property owners are required to clear snow and ice from sidewalks and curb ramps abutting their property within three hours after snowfall ends, or three hours after sunrise if it stops snowing overnight. 

  • The Mayor asked residents also to clear storm drains, curb ramps, and fire hydrants near your house. 

  • He reminded vehicle owners to clear the tailpipe around the muffler before turning on the ignition. 

  • Space savers are allowed for 48 hours after the end of the Snow Emergency; after that they are considered trash and will be collected. Space savers are not allowed at all in the South End, by resident agreement.  

  • The Mayor advised residents to dress for the weather when going outside, and to avoid overexertion while shoveling. Take frequent breaks and call 911 if you feel chest pains. 

  • He also asked residents to help shovel for neighbors who are older or have disabilities, and check in on them while maintaining social distance and wearing a mask. 

  • For those experiencing homelessness, the City has expanded shelter space this year due to COVID, and shelters will be open 24 hours a day during the Emergency. 

  • The City coordinates a network of providers and first responders who help people get into shelter, but he asked residents to also keep an eye out for those who may be struggling. If you see someone in distress, who is not moving, or who looks under-dressed for the weather, please call 911. 

  • A full list of resources and guidelines is available at Boston.gov/snow

  • For all non-emergency questions or concerns, call 311. Our call center will be staffed up and ready for increased volume. 

  • For updates, including Snow Emergency news, you can sign up for notifications by phone, text, or email. Text ALERTBOSTON, one word, to 888-777 or visit Boston.gov/AlertBoston.

Honoring Bruce Seals: 

  • The Mayor closed his remarks by paying tribute to Bruce Seals, who passed away this week. 

    • “Bruce was a coach and a mentor to thousands of young people in our city through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester, one of our leading youth organizations. Bruce contributed profoundly to the life of our city, and his passing is a huge loss. Our hearts go out to Bruce’s family and everyone who worked with him. We’ll work to continue his legacy and impact through partnerships with people and organizations in our city who like him are devoted to the young people of our city.”

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