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Recap of Mayor Walsh’s COVID-19 Press Briefing – May 26th

Did you miss the mayor’s presser today? Don’t worry! Here’s a recap from Mayor Walsh’s COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

Case numbers:

  • As of Tuesday, May 26 in Massachusetts: 93,693 cases and 6,473 deaths.

  • As of Tuesday, May 26 in Boston: 12,521 cases, 622  deaths, and 6,019 recoveries.

Vandalism of the Puerto Rican Veterans’ Memorial:

  • The Mayor condemned the vandalization of the South End memorial which happened over the weekend. He discussed its importance to the City and affirmed his commitment to making sure it is fully restored as a powerful tribute to the many Puerto Rican veterans who have served our country.

  • For their quick response to this incident, the Mayor thanked Commissioner Rob Santiago and his team at the Office of Veterans Services, Ken Ryan and Stephen Pascantilli from the Property Management Department, the Parks Department, and the Boston Police Department who are investigating.

Update on Boston Hope Medical Center:

  • As the number of new coronavirus cases have continued to decline, and capacity at local hospitals has returned to near-normal levels, the Boston Hope Medical Center at the BCEC stopped taking new patients this morning.

  • The facility will continue operating until the last patient has been discharged to a safe place, and it will stay in place as a ready resource should it be needed again.

  • The Mayor thanked everyone who played a role in making the 1,000 bed facility ready for patients in under a week, including healthcare professionals, led by Mass General Brigham; service providers, guided by Boston Healthcare for the Homeless and Ascension Recovery Services; BCEC leadership, city government, and state government; military service members, Boston Police, EMS, and State Police; construction companies and the labor community; and countless staff and volunteers.

  • In total, Boston Hope has treated more than 700 patients since it opened in early April.

Exercising caution during the State’s reopening plan:

  • Phase 1 of the State’s reopening plan began last Monday, May 18, with some construction sites, manufacturing facilities, and houses of worship resuming activities. Some office spaces will resume in-person activities this week in Massachusetts, and next week in Boston. The Mayor stressed the importance of continuing to stop the spread of the virus even as the State gradually reopens to regular activities.

  • He issued a reminder that there is about a two-week time lag between infections and positive test results, as people develop symptoms and get tested. Therefore, the numbers we’re seeing now are based on what we were doing two weeks ago and earlier. If we want the numbers to keep going in the right direction, everyone must continue doing their part to minimize the risk of another surge, by maintaining at least six feet of distance between individuals; continuing to wash hands and clean surfaces frequently; and wearing a face covering when in public.

  • The Mayor asked people to continue to work from home if possible, and for older adults and medically vulnerable people to follow the Safer at Home advisory and stay home as much as possible.

New supports for small businesses and workers:

  • The Mayor announced a $6 million Reopen Boston Fund, a new resource to help small businesses minimize risk and manage economic recovery as we move forward.

  • This is a grant program to help small businesses put safety measures in place, including buying personal protective equipment (PPE); installing safety partitions for customers and employees; and managing outdoor space approved for business use. The grants will be distributed to brick-and-mortar businesses, with fewer than 15 employees, where people work close to each other or to customers. That includes salons and barber shops, retail stores and restaurants, gyms and event spaces, and more.

  • The funds will be released in three rounds, corresponding to the phases of the state’s reopening plan. Phase 1 applications will open this Thursday, May 28, at 5 p.m. Information is available in multiple languages at boston.gov/reopen-fund.

  • The grants will also create more opportunities for local, and minority- and women- owned contractors to provide and install safety materials.

  • This new fund builds on previously existing supports for small businesses, including the Small Business Relief Fund, which has already distributed $4 million to more than 1,100 small businesses, and a new online resource to help small businesses procure PPE, which has already seen 4,500 visitors since Friday.

  • The Mayor reiterated a point he has made several times: that when business owners are allowed to open under the State’s plan, that doesn’t mean they have to open. If they decide not to open, they will continue to have access to all the resources and support that the City provides.

  • He also reminded workers, in any size organization, that they have options if they feel they are being pressured into an unsafe situation. Attorney General Maura Healey has created resources for workers to report safety concerns during reopening. They include an online form at the Attorney General’s website and a dedicated Fair Labor hotline at 617-727-3465. People can also find those resources by calling 311.

Remembering Keith Love:

  • The Mayor closed his press conference with a tribute to a well-loved member of the Boston community who passed away from cancer Tuesday morning.

  • Keith Love was the co-headmaster of TechBoston Academy, in Dorchester. Keith was there for 16 years, and a school leader since 2013.

  • The Mayor said, “No one had more pride in the Tech Boston Bears, especially when the boys basketball team won back-to-back state championships in 2018 and 2019. This month there were two different car parades to show Keith how much he meant to his community. Superintendent Cassellius started the second parade by presenting commendations from myself and the Boston School Committee, honoring his service to BPS children, families and the entire community. Keith Love was someone who lived to empower and inspire young people. His legacy is a good reminder of the people and the values we’re fighting for. Keith Love is also a good reminder of the strength, the courage, and the role models in our community that we can draw on to win this fight. Our prayers are with his family.”

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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.