Did you miss the mayor’s press briefing?  Don’t worry! Here’s a recap of from Mayor Walsh’s press briefing this afternoon.

Case numbers

  • As of Wednesday, May 13, in Massachusetts: 80,497 cases and 5,315 deaths.

  • As of Wednesday, May 13, in Boston: 11,284 cases, 542 deaths, and 3,948 recoveries.

Reopening and recovery plans

  • The Mayor’s administration is represented on the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board, and the City and State continue to work closely together on a gradual re-opening plan.

  • The Mayor stressed that every step the City and the State take toward reopening must depend on testing and hospital metrics reaching certain benchmarks and continuing to move in the right direction. He stated that all decisions in Boston will be based on science-based facts, and that the City will prioritize the health and security of all residents.

New round of Boston Resiliency Fund grants

  • As of May 12, the Boston Resiliency Fund had raised $30.7 million, from more than 5,800 donations. The purpose of the Fund is to provide food for children and seniors, technology for students, and support to front-line workers. The Fund is informed by the City’s COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force and directs resources into communities that have the deepest needs. A major focus has been expanding COVID testing and outreach in every neighborhood across the city, especially those that have been hardest-hit.

  • Today, the Mayor announced the 17 newest grantees, which together will receive $1.3 million. 52% of these organizations are led by a person of color and 47% are led by women. These grants will allow the City to expand the availability of telehealth COVID-19 treatment, from nine current sites to 19 Community Health Centers in Boston. Additional grants support community organizations in providing food, childcare, gift cards, face coverings, and more for those in need. The populations these organizations work with include seniors, service workers, young people of color, and homeless individuals.

  • The newest round of grantees include the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, to provide emotional and psychological support to healthcare workers, and Newmarket Business Association, who will employ residents to  provide delivery support for the Greater Boston Food Bank.

  • These new grants bring the total to $17.5 million distributed to nearly 200 organizations through the Boston Resiliency Fund.

  • As of this week, COVID-19 testing is now underway at South Boston Community Health Center and at the Charlestown location of North End Waterfront Health, both former Boston Resiliency Fund grantees.

Small business relief

  • The Mayor provided an update on the City’s Small Business Relief Fund. As of last week, the first $2 million of relief had been distributed to 561 local businesses, in industries hit hardest by the crisis.

  • 58% of the businesses receiving grants are owned by people of color. 48% are owned by women. 44% are owned by immigrants. 95% went to businesses with 15 or fewer employees. The top ten zip codes with the most recipients include East Boston, Jamaica Plain, Brighton, South End, Dorchester, Roslindale, and Roxbury.

  • The City has received feedback on how the first round of funding is being used. Business owners have reported that they are using the money to cover rent payments and utilities; vehicle payments and insurance; and employee wages. Multiple business owners have said that these payments kept them from having to close up shop permanently.

  • The City has added another $5.5 million to the Fund, which will allow the City to fully fund all eligible grant requests that were submitted during the application process.

Federal stimulus payments

  • It is widely known that low income residents are having difficulty accessing the $1200 Federal stimulus payments. The City of Boston has created resources to help people navigate the system and get the relief they are entitled to.

  • The City has set up a Stimulus Hotline. The number is 781-399-5330. Residents can also call 311 and ask to get connected, or visit bostontaxhelp.org.

  • This new resource is staffed by the Boston Tax Help Coalition, a partnership of the Mayor’s Office of Financial Empowerment with nonprofits, businesses, and community organizations that provides free tax services every spring. With state and federal tax deadlines extended to July 15, the Coalition has pivoted to helping people access stimulus checks.

  • The Tax Help Coalition is also getting ready to provide its usual free services for the July 15 tax deadline, for those who make under $56,000. The City will be setting up the technology to be able to provide these services virtually in the coming weeks.

Reminders about public access to City Hall

  • The Mayor issued a reminder that City Hall remains open to the public on Tuesdays and Fridays only. Residents can still go to City Hall to register to vote, get their resident parking permit, pay their parking tickets and taxes, and more; but they must make an appointment for in-person services. Upon arrival, residents will be asked whether they are experiencing COVID symptoms and given a temperature check. Many services are available online at Boston.gov, and people can also call 3-1-1 for guidance. For more information about how to access City services, visit boston.gov/news/covid-19-status-city-boston-departments

  • The Mayor offered special thanks to the officers of the City’s Municipal Protective Services, for their welcoming and professional service to the public, and their role during the crisis in helping to keep city services running and city residents safe.

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