News

Recap of Mayor Marty Walsh’s Press Briefing from March 1st

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Monday, March 1

Latest COVID numbers:

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts yesterday (Sunday) reported 1,428 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 550,302; and 52 new deaths bringing the total to 15,796.

  • The City of Boston today (Monday) reported 119 new confirmed cases for a total of 58,901; and 2 new deaths for a total of 1,273.

The latest complete data we have is for the week ending February 21:

  • An average of nearly 3,800 Boston residents were tested for COVID each day. That does not include college testing.

  • The 7-day average for daily positive tests was 161. 

  • The average daily positive rate was 3.5%. 

  • The Mayor said that the City’s case metrics levelled off and even ticked upward in the last few days of data. He added that this is not a cause for concern, but it’s a good reminder not to take this positive trend for granted. 

  • He urged everyone to remain vigilant and take all necessary precautions to protect themselves and our communities against the virus. That includes wearing a mask with a good fit (whether you wear one mask or two masks, make sure there is a tight fit on the sides of your face); washing your hands frequently, with soap and warm water; continuing to socially distance and avoid gatherings; and getting tested regularly.

Update on COVID-19 testing:

  • There are currently more than 25 testing sites in the City of Boston. The City continues to support mobile testing sites that are free and open to all, regardless of symptoms. 

  • Today the Mayor announced that mobile sites will continue operations through at least the month of March. They are:

    • In Jamaica Plain, at the Anna Cole Community Center in the Mildred Hailey Apartments. 

    • In Hyde Park, at Boston Renaissance Charter School. 

    • In Dorchester, at the Strand Theatre; and Prince Hall Grand Lodge

    • For information about how to access these sites and others, visit Boston.gov or call 3-1-1.

Update on vaccine rollout:

  • The City continues to work with the State on the vaccine rollout

  • Right now, adults 65 and older, and adults with two underlying health conditions, are eligible to get the vaccine, as well as everyone eligible in Phase 1. 

  • In Boston, we currently have 17 vaccination sites that are open to all eligible residents. Those include: 

    • 7 community-based sites: in Hyde Park, East Boston, the South End, Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale, and South Boston. 

    • 8 pharmacies: in neighborhoods including East Boston, Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester. 

    • And 2 mass vaccination sites: the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury and Fenway Park. 

  • The City is focused on providing equitable access to vaccines, especially at the Reggie Lewis Center. Over the weekend, the City held a Black History Month event at the site, to promote vaccine access and health equity. The Mayor thanked the community organizations including the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition which sponsored the event. He also thanked the City of Boston Black Employee Network for distributing COVID care kits. 

  • This weekend alone, 1,600 people were vaccinated at the Reggie Lewis. Moving forward, the City of Boston will continue to hold 50% of the slots for eligible people of color, working through community health centers and city agencies.

  • In Boston, over 100 senior affordable housing buildings will be vaccinating residents and staff on-site, and some have already begun. That includes the Boston Housing Authority, which is hosting clinics for residents of public housing who are elderly and disabled. Over the weekend, BHA clinics were held at: Ausonia Apartments in the North End; St. Botolph Apartments in Back Bay/South End; and Monsignor Powers Apartments in South Boston. 

  • This Friday, the City is launching a mobile vaccination pilot clinic at Martin Luther King Towers in Roxbury, and more clinics will be offered at additional developments next week. 

  • The Mayor thanked the BHA, the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston EMS, the City’s Age Strong Commission, and all of the City’s partners in this work. 

  • The Mayor encouraged seniors and everyone who is eligible to receive the vaccine to get it as soon as they can, sharing the following resources: 

    • Boston residents 65 and older can call 3-1-1 and get connected to the City’s Age Strong Commission for help in multiple languages. 

    • Veterans 55 or older, enrolled in VA Healthcare, can get vaccinated at any VA health facility in Boston

    • The full schedule for vaccine eligibility is at Mass.gov/CovidVaccine

    • The State has a Vaccine Scheduling Resource available by calling 2-1-1.

    • For information about sites in Boston, visit Boston.gov/Covid19Vaccine

Update on reopening:

  • The Governor announced last week that the State is moving forward in Reopening: Starting today with Phase 3, Step 2; and starting on March 22 with Phase 4, Step 1.

  • The Mayor said that in Boston, we are also moving forward, but we have some important exceptions to the changes going into effect today. This is consistent with the City’s cautious approach throughout the crisis. 

  • In the City of Boston, starting today, March 1:

    • We are moving up to 50% maximum capacity at many indoor businesses including gyms, museums, offices, movie theaters, hotels, and stores. We are moving forward to allow the use of fitting rooms in retail stores. 

    • We are lifting the capacity limit at restaurants; while requiring 6 feet of space between tables, six people maximum per table, and 90-minute limits on seating. 

    • But we are not moving forward with live music in restaurants until at least March 22. 

    • We are not opening indoor performance venues like concert halls and theaters until at least March 22. 

    • And we are not opening higher-contact indoor recreation like roller skating, laser tag, or trampolines until at least March 22. 

    • On those steps, as well as Phase 4, the City of Boston will move forward on March 22, if our case data and public health guidance supports it.  

  • The Mayor emphasized that the City of Boston is committed to economic recovery. And at the same time, keeping people safe and continuing to slow the spread, must be our first priority. He said that economic recovery depends on our public health progress. 

  • Small businesses can learn more about this update at our weekly Small Business Conference Call tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3pm. You can register at Boston.gov/SmallBusiness. The City of Boston’s Reopen Boston Fund is still taking applications from businesses with 25 employees or fewer. 

St. Patrick’s Day warning:

  • The Mayor said that Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is cancelled again because of the public health crisis, and he said he is grateful to everyone involved for their cooperation. 

  • He also made it clear that there should be no large gatherings of any kind. Private gatherings remain limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outside; and there will be no exceptions to the rules on restaurants, bars, and private gatherings. 

  • Last week the Mayor and his team held a meeting with businesses that are traditionally busy on St. Patrick’s Day. They made it clear to businesses that spacing requirements and time limits will still be in place over St. Patrick’s Day weekend. There should be no alcohol without food service. And the City won’t allow lines outside restaurants. Enforcement will continue to be in place. 

Return of outdoor dining:

  • The Mayor said that one of the bright spots during the COVID-19 pandemic is how the City and businesses got creative to expand outdoor dining last summer and fall. It brought much-needed vitality back to our streets and small businesses.

  • Outdoor dining on public property ended in December, and the City is bringing it back for 2021, starting on April 1, or as soon as the weather permits it. 

  • The City is once again waiving fees, to remove that barrier to apply for the program. We have a centralized online application, so both businesses and residents can follow the process. We have technical support available. And we’re doing targeted outreach for under-represented businesses and communities. The City will once again be restricting parking and closing certain streets, to open up dining space. The City will share more details on specific streets in the coming weeks. The Disabilities Commission plays an important role in the review process, and is again working with restaurants to distribute mobility ramps.  

  • The Mayor said that this program was made stronger by community input, so we welcome continued conversation. 

  • The online application has been live since December 10, and the City has already received over 370 applications, with more than 150 approved. Applications moving forward will be reviewed on a rolling basis. You can learn more, or submit an application, at Boston.gov/2021OutdoorDining

Update on reopening the Boston Public Schools:

  • Today, the Boston Public Schools welcomed all students from pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade back to in-person classrooms, if their families opted in. They join the high priority students who have been in school since the fall. 

  • The Mayor said that the City will continue to bring students safely back into schools, as long as public health data supports it. Grades 4-8 will be eligible for in-person learning on March 15. And all remaining students will be eligible on March 29. 

  • The Mayor visited the Martin Luther King K-8 school in Dorchester this morning, to welcome young students back to the building. He said: 

“This is the most important thing happening in our city right now. Most students have been out of physical classrooms since March 17 of last year. I want to thank parents, guardians, teachers, school leaders, custodians and food service workers for the tremendous work they have done to keep our students learning. I want to thank bus drivers and transportation staff, for their strong on-time performance this morning. And I want to thank everyone who has worked to prepare our classrooms to the highest safety standards anywhere.” 

  • The Mayor said that in addition to all the work on spacing and air quality, we are moving forward with pooled COVID testing for students whose families consent. He stated that this is a good system for preventing the spread of the virus, and as we move forward, we will take every opportunity we can to keep our school communities safe.

Women’s History Month:

  • The Mayor closed with this reflection about Women’s History Month, which begins today. 

“In Boston, we believe in empowering women and protecting their rights. That’s been a hallmark of my administration and something we’re proud of. This month is an opportunity to celebrate everything that women do for our city, especially during this difficult last year. Women in city government and throughout our communities have led many of our most important responses, from healthcare, to food access, to housing support, to education. I want to take a moment to thank them. Women have also taken on a huge burden in the home, reminding us that we have a lot of work to do to achieve a fair economy. We have a range of events planned for Women’s History Month, through our Office of Women’s Advancement and Executive Director Alex Valdez. You can learn more at Boston.gov/women.”

 

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About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and Caught in Dot and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Hockey mom, yoga enthusiast, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.