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Recap of Mayor Walsh Press Briefing from July 14th

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Tuesday, July 14, 2020.

Case numbers:

  • As of today in Massachusetts: 112,130 cases and 8,340 deaths. These numbers include both confirmed and probable cases.

  • As of today in Boston: 13,749 cases, 714 deaths, and 9,748 recoveries.

Update on Phase 3 of reopening:

  • Phase 3, Step 1 of the state reopening plan launched in Boston on Monday, July 13. On Friday, July 10, the Mayor provided an overview of City programming and business guidelines in Phase 3. Those resources can be found at boston.gov/reopening.

  • The Mayor gave some national context about the coronavirus. Right now, the US is in the worst place it has been since the pandemic began. He gave some examples: the California governor yesterday had to shut down indoor businesses for the second time, and Florida, Texas, Arizona, and other states are seeing dire situations in their hospitals.

  • He said Boston and Massachusetts don’t have to go down that path. The Boston Public Health Commission and the City are monitoring the data every single day, including test results, positive test rates, hospital activity, and neighborhood and demographic differences.

  • The City is ready to make whatever adjustments are needed, should we see the numbers move in the wrong direction. But the Mayor stressed that every single person has the ability to influence what happens with the spread, and must accept that responsibility. Everyone must continue to follow the precautions put in place, or else we risk moving backward.

    • For businesses and nonprofits, that means operating workplaces with caution and care; following all state requirements; listening to concerns of workers and customers; and consulting the city’s sector guidelines at boston.gov/reopening.

    • For individuals, it means wearing a face covering whenever you are out; keeping six feet of distance and avoiding crowds; washing your hands frequently; and cleaning your surfaces.

  • The City is available for help and guidance. Since March, the City has kept essential city services available while protecting the health of workers and visitors. As many city services as possible are available online, and the City’s 311 staff are ready to answer questions and provide assistance.

Update on City services and processes:

  • Starting on July 23, City Hall will be open to the public on Thursdays: bringing in-person services to 3 days a week, on a Tuesday, Thursday, Friday schedule.

  • Services will remain by appointment, so people must call ahead to the relevant department. A good starting place is to call 311.

  • The City will continue to screen everyone who enters the building for COVID-19 symptoms and elevated temperature.

  • The Mayor reiterated that, despite state guidelines allowing larger gatherings, the City will not be hosting public or private meetings in City Hall or other city buildings. The City will continue to provide online meetings and other ways to make residents’ voices heard.

  • Already, the City and the Boston Planning and Development Agency have held virtual conversations on the planning studies moving forward in East Boston, Mattapan, and Newmarket. As a reminder, Franklin Park community workshops are happening today, July 14, at noon and 6:30 pm, and residents can join the workshop at FranklinParkActionPlan.com.

Police reform listening sessions:

  • The City is also providing opportunities for robust public input and community leadership in our work to advance racial justice in Boston.

  • The Mayor noted that Boston has already instituted a number of reforms in public safety policy and budget reallocations. The City is also moving forward with equity investments to combat systemic racism in education, housing, and public health.

  • The Mayor pledged to continue this conversation as a city—not in a top-down manner, but by centering the voices of the communities that have been most severely impacted by this history. That’s the purpose of the Boston Police Reform Task Force, headed by former US Attorney Wayne Budd and made up of Black and Brown community leaders, civil rights leaders, and activists. Their work is moving forward.

  • Starting next week, the Task Force will be holding online listening sessions on key issues, where residents will have the opportunity to share their experiences and beliefs. These sessions begin next week with the following schedule:

  • The City will be sharing information this week on how to sign up to testify or submit written testimony.

  • The Mayor thanked Wayne Budd and all the members of the Task Force for their service, and reaffirmed his pledge to act on the recommendations of this board, as informed by the community.

Update on youth summer jobs:

  • The Mayor noted that, with fewer employers able to offer jobs in person this year, the City had to get creative in providing summer opportunities that are safe and meaningful. The City boosted funding for the program from $8 million to $12 million to increase outreach, increase support, and offer an opportunity to every young person who needs it.

  • The Mayor announced two new features of the City’s youth summer jobs program that launched this week.

  • The first is a “Learn & Earn” Career Development Internship that pays young people to take college-level coursework, which started on Monday, July 13. Students come away with real college credits as well as experience and financial earnings.

    • This program will have more than 500 young people enrolled in 26 classes, in areas like Business, Communications, Early Childhood Education, Human Services, and Technology.

    • The Mayor thanked the local colleges who are providing this experience: Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, Bunker Hill Community College, Roxbury Community College, and Urban College of Boston.

  • The second is that the City is providing all Summer Jobs participants with an online resource guide to workers’ rights, put together by the office of Attorney General Maura Healey.

    • The Mayor noted that we want all young people entering the workforce to understand their rights and the rights of all working people.

    • He thanked the Attorney General and everyone who came together to offer these opportunities, including the City’s Office of Workforce Development and our Department of Youth Employment and Engagement.

Bringing food trucks to our neighborhoods:

  • This Friday, July 17, is the launch of Boston’s 2020 Summer Food Truck Initiative. For the first time ever, food trucks will be heading out into the neighborhoods.

  • This summer, the City is piloting temporary food truck sites across our neighborhoods, including at City parks, playgrounds, and public spaces. These sites are open to trucks that have already been approved by the City to operate.

  • Spots will be issued based on interest and availability and they will be open seven days a week from noon to 7 p.m. The City is offering 23 sites so far and working to add more as needed. More information on their locations will be posted on boston.gov/reopening this week.

  • The Mayor said food trucks are small businesses that bring fun and vibrancy wherever they go, as well as an outdoor dining experience that aligns with the City’s public health precautions.

  • This program is led by the Office of Economic Development’s Small Business Unit, in partnership with the Streets Cabinet and the Inspectional Services Department. Like outdoor dining and healthy streets, it’s another way the City is innovating, in response to the pandemic, to support small business and bring new amenities to our neighborhoods.

Extension of plastic bag ban and bag fee suspension:

  • The Mayor announced that, barring any change in circumstances, the ban on plastic bags and the 5-cent bag fee will remain suspended until Sept. 30. They will return starting on October 1, which gives stores a transition period to use the bags that they have in stock.

  • He noted that the City originally suspended the ban on plastic bags and the 5-cent fee for paper bags in March in order to give both stores and customers more flexibility during a difficult time.

  • He also made clear that the Boston Public Health Commission and the state Department of Public Health have said that reusable bags are safe and people should feel free to use them.

Standing with Boston’s international students:

  • The Mayor closed his remarks by addressing the federal court hearing happening today, July 14, at 3 p.m. on a plan by the Department of Homeland Security to deny visas to international students, if the college that is hosting them goes online for the fall. Harvard and M.I.T. are leading the lawsuit to stop that policy.

  • Yesterday, the Mayor joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in leading a group of cities to file an amicus brief in support of this lawsuit.

  • The Mayor said the following:

    • “My message is clear. This policy has no basis in public health or the national interest. It’s an attempt to pressure colleges and universities to open up. It puts politics in place of public health. It’s not fair to students who looked to Boston as a place of educational opportunity. And, it’s a blow to our economy at a time when we can least afford it.”

  • He noted that Massachusetts has over 70,000 international students, many of them either living or taking their classes in the City of Boston. They contribute roughly $3.2 billion dollars to the state’s economy and support 39,000 jobs.

  • He also said that, beyond the economic factor, this kind of move chips away at the goodwill that the City has built up around the world through academic leadership, and strikes at Boston’s identity as a welcoming city and a global leader.

  • He reassured international students that they are not alone, and the City is going to fight this change. Boston values its international students and wants them here. He asked students to not make any decisions yet, and to reach out to their school for support. Boston’s colleges and universities, and the City, have made it clear that they welcome international students and stand with them.

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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.