13 min readBy Published On: February 2nd, 2021Categories: News0 Comments

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Monday, February 1.

Thanking Commissioner William Gross:

  • The Mayor began his remarks by recognizing and thanking Commissioner Willie Gross for his leadership, and for his 37 years of service to the people of Boston. He said one of his proudest moments as Mayor was appointing him police commissioner in 2018.

  • He said that Commissioner Gross led the department with passion and purpose, and embodied a strong spirit of community policing. He made our neighborhoods safer and took Boston’s national leadership to a new level.

  • And as a leader, he never shied away from taking on the most difficult challenges. That is how he navigated the Boston Police Department through monumental changes, as our City battled COVID-19 and worked together to produce the most ambitious set of police reforms in the department’s history.

  • Mayor Walsh said that Commissioner Gross leaves behind an inspiring legacy, which includes making history as Boston’s first Black commissioner; appointing the most diverse command staff in the department’s history; reducing crime and getting guns off our streets; creating the first-ever Bureau of Community Engagement at BPD; and serving as a role model.

  • He said it’s always been clear how much he loves his job and his community, and that he wishes him the best in his next chapter.

Introduction and swearing in of Commissioner Dennis White:

  • The Mayor said he was excited to name Dennis White as the 43rd Commissioner of the Boston Police Department.

  • He said that he’s a seasoned and well-respected veteran of the police force, having served the community for 32 years. He’s had extensive experience, in both investigative and patrol positions, and has played many roles in serving our neighborhoods.

  • The Mayor gave an overview of his career:

    • Dennis White began his career in District 6, South Boston as a Police Officer.

    • He went on to become a Sergeant Patrol Supervisor in District 2 and a Sergeant Detective in District 4, South End and Internal Affairs.

    • Before he joined the Command Staff in 2014, he was a Lieutenant and Duty Supervisor in District 2, Roxbury; District 3, Mattapan; and District 13, Jamaica Plain.

    • He served as Deputy Superintendent in the Office of the Superintendent-in-Chief and in the Bureau of Field Services Night Command.

    • He was then promoted to Chief of Staff to Commissioner Gross and to the rank of Superintendent.

    • He is also a member of our City’s Police Reform Task Force, and helped shape the community-led recommendations for police reform this summer.

  • The Mayor said he is confident that he will continue the BPD’s reputation as a national leader in community policing; advance the department’s commitment to accountability and transparency; and help lead the BPD into a new era. He said he’s also proud that he will serve as our nation’s next great local leader in public safety — continuing to represent the great diversity of our police department and our City.

  • The Mayor then asked Acting Commissioner White, accompanied by his wife Jackie, to recite the Oath. Commissioner White gave some remarks, which can be viewed here.

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COVID-19 cases:

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts today reported 2,270 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 500,415 cases. The state reported 30 new deaths, for a total of 14,317 people who have passed away due to COVID-19.

  • The City of Boston today reported 204 new cases, for a total of 53,602 cases. The City reported 3 new deaths, bringing the total to 1,161.

Our latest complete test data is for the week ending January 24:

  • An average of 4,969 people were tested each day. That is down compared to the week before and does not include college testing.

  • The average number of positive tests each day was about 375, also down from the week before.

  • Our current community positivity rate was 6.8%. That is lower than the week before, and down 1.6 percentage points over the last two weeks.

  • The Mayor said we continue to see improvement in our neighborhood numbers.

Staying vigilant:

  • The Mayor said that, throughout the pandemic, Boston has taken a cautious approach to reopening, and we only move forward with reopening if public health experts say it’s safe.

  • In recent weeks, we’ve seen some improvement in our COVID numbers. That is why we are moving into Phase 3 Step 1 today. You can go to Boston.gov/Reopening to find the list of businesses allowed to reopen.

  • The Mayor also mentioned that, last week, the State moved Boston from “high risk” to “moderate risk” on their map, which is encouraging news.

  • But, he said, we must stay vigilant. The numbers could change any time. Every single person has a role to play in keeping these numbers down.

  • Everyone can take actions on a daily basis to protect themselves and their loved ones. He reminded everyone to wear a mask; social distance; wash your hands with soap and warm water; disinfect surfaces; and avoid gatherings.

  • With Super Bowl Sunday coming up next weekend, he asked everyone to refrain from gathering with people outside your household.

  • He also reminded everyone to make testing a part of your routine. We have over 30 testing sites including mobile sites that are free and open to all, regardless of symptoms. Visit Boston.gov or call 3-1-1 for complete details.

  • He said if everyone does their part, we’ll be able to keep moving forward with reopening, faster. We’ll be able to safely bring back more of the activities we love and miss, and help our businesses recover.

Vaccine update:

  • The Mayor said we continue to collaborate with the State on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, working with them to expand vaccination sites, and make sure every community has equitable access to the vaccines.

  • Today, the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury was scheduled to open as a vaccination site. But due to the weather, all appointments will be rescheduled for the same times next Monday, February 8.

  • The Mayor reminded everyone that the City is helping to get the Reggie Lewis Center vaccine site up and running, and the clinic will be vaccinating over 1,000 appointments per week as we ramp up this site to become a mass vaccination site.

  • This is in addition to Fenway Park, a state-run site, which begins its vaccinations today. The Mayor noted there are adjustments to its schedule due to the weather, and they are asking people with scheduled appointments to arrive early if they can.

  • The Mayor said he wanted to make people aware that, as the vaccine rollout gets off the ground, supplies are initially limited. He says he knows people are concerned, especially those who are eligible in the next round of vaccines — including residents 75 and older. The rollout has caused frustration, and it’s been a confusing and inefficient process — especially for those who do not have access to the Internet.

  • He said he knows that the State is working hard to remedy these issues, and that he expects things to speed up — and that more slots will become available.

  • He noted that some people will be receiving calls from their doctors about their vaccine eligibility, and he encourages them to keep an eye out for that. He also encourages eligible groups to keep checking the State’s website at Mass.gov/CovidVaccine and register as soon as they are able.

  • Seniors can also call 3-1-1 to get connected to the City’s Age Strong Commission, which can help answer questions and navigate their options.

  • The City of Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission will continue to monitor the data, and help the State direct resources where they’re needed most. The Mayor said as soon as the vaccine becomes available to people, he urges them to take it.

  • He said the vaccine is safe, it’s free, and it’s one of the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones. Thousands of people, of all races, ages, and backgrounds, participated in vaccine trials to prove it’s safe.

  • The science makes it clear: it’s one of the best tools we have to stop the spread of this virus. But bringing an end to this pandemic requires using all the tools we have available. That includes following all the COVID precautions; getting tested regularly; and getting the vaccine, when it’s your turn.

  • He thanked everyone who continues to do their part to protect our city, and handed it off to Marty Martinez, Chief of Health and Human Services, to speak more about vaccines. You can watch his remarks here.

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Snow preparedness:

  • The Mayor discussed the impending snow storm, and provided the latest forecast from the National Weather Service.

    • A Winter Storm Warning is in effect until 5 am tomorrow, Tuesday, February 2.

    • A Coastal Flood Advisory is in effect from 11 pm tonight until 4 pm tomorrow, February 2.

    • Boston could get between 12 and 18 inches of snow. Wind gusts could be as high as 45 mph.

    • Temperatures are going to be on the milder side, with heavy and wet snow, which makes traveling difficult.

  • He thanked the City’s Public Works crews, who have been working hard to pre-treat and clean our roads, and getting ready to clear the snow. He said we have 42,000 tons of salt on hand and the ability to put over 700 pieces of equipment on City streets. He encouraged everyone to stay off the roads if possible.

  • Due to the forecast, the Mayor declared a snow emergency in the City of Boston, starting Monday, February 1 at noon. A parking ban will also be in effect at noon. This is to allow our Public Works team to clear snow and ice. A full list of these streets is available at Boston.gov.

    • We have discounted parking available at public garages and lots across the city. Parking at participating garages began at 10 am.

    • Parking is also banned in Boston Public School lots.

    • You can find information about the parking options and all our storm resources at Boston.gov/Snow.

  • The Mayor gave an overview of some closures and updates related to the snow emergency:

    • All Boston Public Schools school buildings will be closed on Monday and Tuesday. All BPS students, including students who were scheduled to report for in-person learning, will attend classes online both today and tomorrow, Tuesday, February 2. They will have a partial day, which will end 2.5 hours earlier than the regular dismissal time. There will be no in-person learning on Monday and Tuesday.

  • The Mayor said he and BPS leadership are disappointed that the weather is not cooperating with the plan to return more than 4,000 students to in-person learning today. But they are grateful to the teachers, custodians, food service staff, bus drivers, and school leaders who had been working around the clock to prepare for a return to in-person learning.

    • In-person learning will restart on Thursday, February 4, and he looks forward to welcoming back our students and staff in just a few short days.

  • All BPS meal sites are open today until 2 pm today, and all BYCF meal sites are closed today. Residents are encouraged to check with their non-BPS meal sites for hours. All BCYF community centers and Boston Public Library locations are closed.

  • Street sweeping is canceled until further notice. But Trash and Recycling pick-up will continue on a regular schedule today and tomorrow.

  • The mobile testing site at the Anna M. Cole Center in Jamaica Plain will be closed today. For other updates on testing sites, please visit Boston.gov or call 3-1-1.

  • Boston City Hall and 1010 Mass Ave are closed today. Due to the snow emergency, the FY21 property tax bill and abatement application deadline will be extended until City Hall is next open. However, most City services can be completed online or over the phone, including payment of property tax bills. We encourage residents to utilize our online services when possible. Please call 3-1-1 if you need assistance.

  • The Mayor asked everyone to do their part to help with the snowstorm.

    • Property owners are required to clear snow and ice from sidewalks and curb ramps abutting the property within three hours after the snowfall ends, or three hours after sunrise if the snow ends overnight.

    • He’s also asking people to clear storm drains, curb ramps, and fire hydrants near their house.

    • Space savers are allowed for 48 hours after the end of the Snow Emergency. After that, they are considered trash and will be collected. Space savers are not allowed at all in the South End, by resident agreement.

    • He asked people to help shovel for their neighbors who are older or have disabilities, and check in on them, while maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask.

  • The Mayor also asked for everyone’s help in looking out for our most vulnerable residents.

    • He said our shelters will be open 24 hours a day during the Emergency, and coordinate a citywide network of providers and first responders who help people get into shelter.

    • He asked that if anyone sees a person in distress, who is not moving, or who looks under-dressed for the weather to please call 9-1-1.

  • He also provided a list of snow resources:

    • For the full list of resources and guidelines, go to Boston.gov/snow.

    • For all non-emergency questions or concerns, call 3-1-1. Our call center will be staffed up and ready for increased volume.

    • For updates, including Snow Emergency news, you can sign up for notifications by phone, text, or email. Text ALERTBOSTON, one word, to 888-777 or visit boston.gov/AlertBoston.

  • The Mayor said that, with winter in New England, you never know what to expect. But Boston is always prepared. He thanked the people of Boston for their hard work — and for helping our City get through our first major snowstorm of 2021.

One year anniversary of the first confirmed COVID case in Boston:

  • The Mayor recognized that today, February 1, marks one year since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Boston, and that none of us knew what to expect a year ago. He offered this reflection:

“The pandemic has turned our city, and our world, upside down. Living with this virus hasn’t been easy. It’s been especially hard for communities who have already faced deep, historic disparities in health and economic outcomes. And we’ve all had to make sacrifices. But we’ve also seen countless examples of Bostonians coming together. And that spirit helps us keep our chins up, when times are especially tough. We need that now more than ever, because the virus is still with us, and will be with us for a while longer.

But look where we are — one year later, on February 1, 2021. Today, we’re moving forward with Phase 3, Step 1 of reopening — one step closer to helping our economy recover, and getting life back to normal. We’re opening two vaccination sites: a mass vaccination site at Fenway Park, which opens today, and soon, a vaccination clinic at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, which will expand into a mass vaccination site. Thousands of people have received the COVID-19 vaccine already, and we are working to make sure our most vulnerable residents get vaccinated as soon as possible. We also finally have a partner and leader in Washington who is committed to helping cities and states beat this virus.

We have begun the process of healing. And we’re going to see it through, together. Thank you, again, to everyone for continuing to do your part, day in and out, to help us get through this crisis. Stay warm and safe out there.”

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