6.1 min readBy Published On: June 26th, 2020Categories: News0 Comments

Please see below for updates from Mayor Walsh’s COVID-19 press briefing on Thursday, June 25, 2020.

Case numbers: 

  • As of today in Massachusetts: 107,837 cases and 7,963 deaths. 

  • As of today in Boston: 13,382 cases, 703 deaths, and 9,303 recoveries.

Updates on public health metrics and reopening resources:

  • Average new cases in Boston came down by 50% from June 4 to June 17 and continue to decline. The City’s overall positive test rate is down to 17.9% and last week’s rate was 1.9%, both new lows. The number of COVID patients in Boston ICUs is down by 87% since the peak in April. 

  • However, the United States yesterday saw the most new cases of any day since this pandemic began, with 36,000 new cases, and several states are in a full-blown surge. This is a stark reminder of how quickly the virus can spread. That’s why, for every new step the City takes in reopening, there must be a renewed focus on the risks involved and the precautions needed. 

  • The Mayor reminded the business community that no business should reopen unless they are ready to do so safely—by meeting all the state requirements and managing the risks every day. Detailed sector guidelines and resources are available at boston.gov/reopening. Small businesses can apply for grants to buy PPE, cleaning products, partitions, and other safety resources. This week, the City has been hosting information sessions for businesses in different sectors. The recordings will be posted online, and there will be more sessions for each new phase.

  • The Mayor also reminded everyone to take the following precautions when patronizing a business or going anywhere outside their home: wear a face covering; stay six feet from others and avoid crowds; wash your hands often and clean surfaces; and do your part to keep yourself and your community safe, and help keep Boston and Massachusetts on track with our recovery. 

Recovery and equity:

  • The Mayor noted that containing the spread of the virus, and restoring our economy and our community in a way that is safe and sustainable, requires equity in our City’s recovery. The City has to get resources and opportunities to where they are needed, and rebuild our systems so as to eliminate the stain of racism and create greater opportunities for those who have been excluded in the past. That’s how Boston will emerge from this crisis as a stronger city and community, and respond with resilience to any challenge we face.  

  • The Mayor pointed to the important first steps Boston has taken in the last few weeks.

    • Introducing immediate reforms in the Boston Police Department policies, including the 8 Can’t Wait use-of-force standards and new intervention training.

    • Creating a Task Force to conduct a deeper review of police policies and oversight.

    • Declaring racism to be a public health crisis and making an initial investment of $3 million to fund public health strategies that tackle structural inequalities.

    • Moving 20% of the police overtime budget into physical and mental health programs, the safety and wellbeing of our youth, and the long term success of our neighborhoods. 

Today, the Mayor announced new steps Boston is taking to advance the work of rooting out systemic racism and build up racial equity in the City. 

Creating a new Equity and Inclusion Cabinet:

  • The Equity and Inclusion Cabinet, the first in Boston’s history, will drive the work to dismantle systemic racism and embed equity in all planning and operations moving forward. That work will include:

    • Taking down barriers to equity in health and economic well-being;

    • Accelerating our progress toward a city workforce that reflects the people of the city, at all levels; and

    • Supporting full inclusion and opportunity for immigrant, refugee, and other vulnerable communities.

  • The Cabinet will bring together existing departments, including the Offices of: Resilience and Racial Equity, Diversity, Language and Communication Access, Women’s Advancement, Immigrant Advancement, and the Human Rights Commission. It will apply an equity lens to every department and service, ensuring accountability to this lens in all city policies and practices.

  • It will put an intentional focus on supporting communities of color and marginalized groups, and it will partner with residents, community groups, nonprofits, and businesses to build equity throughout our economy and society. 

  • The Mayor will be appointing a Chief of Equity and Inclusion to lead this work. The work of this cabinet will combat systemic racism in every single way that city government touches people’s lives. An important part of the Cabinet’s work will be to leverage private and nonprofit resources through cross-sector partnerships. 

Creating the Boston Racial Equity Fund:

  • The Mayor said that he’s heard from many business leaders who want to put capital behind the work being done to break down systemic racism and lift up communities of color. 

  • The Boston Racial Equity Fund will invest in nonprofits that empower Black and Brown residents in economic development, public health, youth employment, education, the arts, and more. 

  • Its mission is to increase the safety, wellbeing, equity, and prosperity of the Black and Brown community. 

  • The City’s initial goal is to raise $10 million, and the long-term goal is $50 million. Next week, the Mayor will announce a steering committee that will be made up of leaders in business, higher education, and community development.  

  • The Mayor noted that one of the City’s goals is to support similar statewide efforts being led by Black and Brown business leaders. The City is working with those leaders to coordinate the work through communication and shared oversight. 

  • The Mayor also pointed to the success of the Boston Resiliency Fund and the COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force in giving the City confidence that the Racial Equity Fund can be effective.

Advancing equity in housing:

  • This year, the City will be filing a new zoning amendment aimed at ensuring access to fair housing in every neighborhood. This amendment will require developers to do more to fight displacement and promote inclusion. 

  • The BPDA is working with the Department of Neighborhood Development, the Boston Housing Authority, and the Office of Fair Housing to create a project assessment tool. The purpose will be to identify and address the risk of displacement, as well as foster access for historically excluded communities.

  • The Mayor thanked Councilor Lydia Edwards for her leadership on this issue, as well as Councilor Kenzie Bok, and for working closely with the City on drafting the language. 

  • The Mayor believes Boston will be the first city in the country with fair housing requirements written into the zoning code. 

Notes on the FY21 budget:

  • The structural reforms the City announced today strengthen our ability to drive systemic change through the City budget.

  • The City refiled the budget after taking into account the economic impacts of COVID, the mass movement for racial justice, and extensive review with the City Council. 

  • The Mayor said the FY21 budget strikes the best possible path forward, maintaining historic advances in equity, including:

    • $80 million, or 7% increase, for schools.

    • $16 million increase for affordable housing—including one of the first city-funded rental voucher programs in the country.

    • $13 million increase in public health and $3 million from the police budget to directly address racism. 

  • The Mayor noted that while this is still only the beginning of this work, it’s a strong start, and the City will not let up. 

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