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Recap of Mayor Marty Walsh’s press conference – June 29th

Please see below for updates from Mayor Walsh’s press briefing on Monday, June 29, 2020.

Case numbers: 

  • As of today in Massachusetts: 108,768 cases and 8,095 deaths. 

  • As of today in Boston: 13,441 cases, 709 deaths, and 9,384 recoveries.

Fourth of July public safety reminders:

  • The Mayor reminded everyone that COVID-19 presents a safety issue during Fourth of July celebrations. While this is traditionally a weekend to gather in large groups, that is not something that can be done this year. The City’s Independence Day celebrations are going to be online. Everyone’s Fourth of July plans need to be limited to small groups, wearing face coverings and keeping six feet of distance. 

  • The Mayor pointed to what is happening in other parts of the country, with major surges of cases; hospital capacities being pushed to the limit; and economies getting shut down again. He urges every resident and business to continue to take COVID-19 seriously.

  • The City and the Boston Public Health Commission have continued to make health the top priority, by basing decisions on science; monitoring the data and inequities across demographics and neighborhoods; and bringing health and financial resources to where they are needed. 

  • Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez gave the following updates:

    • Boston is continuing to see a solid 14-day decrease in cases, and a 7-day decrease as well. While the decrease is flattening, we are seeing very low case numbers continue, which is a good sign. 

    • In the last 18 days, the City has only had 1 day with over 30 cases. Our work is paying off to prevent new infections. 

    • We also had one of our lowest positive case rates this past week at 1.9% positive for the entire week, with a cumulative rate of 17.7% for COVID testing in general. While we have increased the number of people we have been testing over the past few weeks, we continue to see a decline in the positive test rate. 

    • Our hospital ICU usage was at 78% of normal capacity, which is down from a high of 136% at its peak in April. 

    • We continue to look at the inequitable impacts COVID has had on our Black and Brown communities. This is why we are increasing testing in key zip codes, and investing in resources to connect people to care and support at our community health centers. 

    • He urged everyone to stay cautious and diligent while the City continues down the path of recovery. 

Equity and housing security:

  • Housing security is a pressing issue, and is part of the City’s conversation on equity. 

  • The Mayor referenced a report released this weekend about the threat of widespread evictions, when federal unemployment relief runs out and the state’s eviction moratorium ends. The City was able to provide data for this report, because we have been tracking these needs and working to meet them — by creating an Office of Housing Stability; investing in affordable housing; and advocating for greater tenant protections. The FY21 budget approved last week expands this work with $16 million of new investment. 

  • The City also filed several bills in the current legislative session to protect tenants and increase housing stability. These include:

    • A bill that guarantees tenants of a building the right to buy that building with a nonprofit partner if it goes on the market.

    • A bill protecting elderly tenants from eviction and displacement.

    • A bill to guarantee tenants facing eviction the right to legal representation. 

  • The Mayor also supports a bill filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico to pilot a Right to Counsel for tenants impacted by COVID-19. 

  • During the public health crisis, the City has made $8 million available for rental relief for residents who are not eligible for unemployment insurance or federal relief. As of last week, the City has distributed over $1 million of those funds to cover rent for hundreds of households, and will continue to distribute funds as needed. 

  • The Mayor is asking the State to extend the eviction moratorium for as long as it takes to protect housing stability in the City of Boston and Commonwealth and with whatever supports are necessary to protect landlords from foreclosures and other harms. He expressed support for the bill filed by Reps. Kevin Honan and Mike Connolly.

  • Housing insecurity is an issue of racial equity as well as general economic disruption. City data shows that communities of color are more vulnerable to eviction and burdensome rents. That is due in large part to a history of being excluded from housing opportunities that took place all across our country. That’s why the City has to take a deep look inside our systems to root out that racist legacy, and to create equitable opportunities moving forward. 

New Chief of Equity:

  • Last week, the Mayor announced a new Equity Cabinet for the City of Boston. The purpose is to elevate and accelerate the work the City is doing to dismantle systemic racism and create fair opportunities for all Bostonians. 

  • The Mayor announced Dr. Karilyn Crockett as Boston’s first-ever Chief of Equity. 

  • The Mayor described Karilyn as a brilliant innovator and passionate changemaker, and someone who lifts up community voices and brings their power and perspective to the halls of government, business, and academia.

  • Karilyn has already had an immense impact in Boston:

    • She served for four years as the City’s Director of Economic Policy, Research, and Small Business Development. 

    • In that role, she helped create the first citywide Small Business Plan and Economic Equity & Inclusion Agenda. 

    • She also strengthened the City’s Resident Jobs Policy, which leverages our city’s growth to create more opportunities for women and people of color.

  • Karilyn is a proud product of the Black community in Boston. She grew up in Dorchester and attended Boston Public Schools for most of her K-12 education. She went on to Yale University, where she earned 3 degrees, including a Ph.D. in American Studies. After college, she founded MYTOWN: a trailblazing organization that hires high school students to research local histories and create walking tours.

  • Karilyn is also a leading scholar of equity and urban planning in Boston. She published a groundbreaking book called People Before Highways, which has changed our understanding of urban renewal, putting the community at the center of the story. For the last 2 years, she has been a lecturer in Public Policy and Urban Planning at M.I.T. 

  • She understands the roots of racial inequity and the tools we need to break it down, and is passionate about our community’s ability to lead this work.

  • The Mayor then invited Dr. Crockett to reflect on her role and her focus moving forward. Her full remarks can be seen here

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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.