7.1 min readBy Published On: July 16th, 2020Categories: News0 Comments

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Thursday, July 16, 2020.

Case numbers: 

  • As of today in Massachusetts: 112,581 cases and 8,380 deaths. These numbers include both confirmed and probable cases.

  • As of today in Boston: 13,793 cases, 716 deaths, and 9,837 recoveries.

  • The Mayor noted that as Boston moves forward in Phase 3, the City’s priority remains containing the virus and preventing another surge. He reminded people to continue supporting this effort by wearing a face covering; keeping six feet of distance and avoiding crowds; washing hands and cleaning surfaces; and following all public health guidelines for workplaces and businesses.

Reminder about testing:

  • The Mayor urged everyone to not hesitate in getting tested for the coronavirus. Testing remains one of the City’s most essential weapons in the fight against the virus. It’s how the City gets data; how people get access treatment; and how Boston can contain a potential outbreak before it spreads.

  • Boston has expanded testing to the point that it is widely available across the City at more than 20 locations and mobile sites. 

  • This morning, Whittier Street Health Center performed its 5,000th free COVID test, when their Mobile Health Van visited a housing development in Dorchester.

  • Testing is covered by insurance if someone has symptoms or a confirmed exposure, and many sites are offering testing at no cost even if those criteria aren’t met. A map of testing sites and information can be found at boston.gov/coronavirus.

  • The Mayor also noted that the City has built a coronavirus response strategy to address systemic inequities and community vulnerabilities. Since the beginning, the City has focused special outreach and resources on communities where inequities are evident in the case numbers, testing results, or risk factors. This work includes:

    • Conducting universal testing for the homeless population and for first responders and front-line workers.

    • Appointing a COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force, made up of leaders in communities of color, who understand what resources and services are needed. Drawing on their guidance, the City has expanded testing access in the Black community and immigrant communities, and in impacted neighborhoods including Roxbury, Mattapan, and East Boston.

    • Expanding Language and Communication Access to make our information and resources available in more than 10 languages. 

    • Bringing mobile testing to public housing and senior communities. 

    • Creating the COVID-19 Immigrant Collaborative to combine and expand the relief available in our immigrant communities.

Expanded testing outreach for Boston’s Latinx community:

  • The Mayor noted that right now, and in recent weeks, the City has seen higher-than-average positive rates in the Latino community. Latinos make up 20% of Boston’s population, but represent 28% of the City’s overall COVID-19 cases. That inequity has grown over the course of the pandemic. 

  • This week the City is investing over $400,000 in a community plan to address the inequities these numbers represent. The Boston Resiliency Fund is providing grant support to the Greater Boston Latino Network, as well as East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury. 

  • The City is also working to extend this partnership to Brookside Health Center in Jamaica Plain. 

  • The grantees will work together to expand outreach, testing, and related supports in Boston’s Latinx communities. 

  • The Mayor said the way to do this work is through grassroots organizations that have long-standing, authentic relationships in the communities they work with every day. That’s been a core strategy of the Resiliency Fund and the Health Inequities Task Force.

  • The Mayor asked Reverend Sam Acevedo, an associate pastor at the Lion of Judah Congregation in Roxbury, and a member of the Health Inequities Task Force, to speak more about the testing grants and testing access plan. Reverend Acevedo is the founder and executive director of the Boston Higher Education Resource Center, which is a member of the Greater Boston Latino Network. 

  • Reverend Acevedo made the following points:

    • The Latino members on the Task Force have seen firsthand that many Latino families have been experiencing symptoms but are worried about getting tested — whether due to their immigrant status, language barriers, or lack of health insurance or health care provider. 

    • He noted that, during the coronavirus crisis, the Greater Boston Latino Network has continued its programming, from working with the elderly to providing after school academic enrichment programs for youth. Now, they are also delivering food, helping families file for unemployment, distributing direct cash assistance for families, and connecting families with a multitude of services.

    • With these new funds, GBLN will continue to provide the expanded resources needed due to the pandemic. They will also work with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and the Whittier Street Health Center to strengthen the work they are doing with the Latino community. 

    • Starting today, they will also be running a bilingual campaign to promote wearing face coverings among members of the Latino community. 

Further updates on the Boston Resiliency Fund:

  • The Resiliency Fund is distributing another $1.2 million in grants this week. The bulk of this funding focuses on programming to keep young people engaged over the summer, and food distribution to continue making sure our families and seniors are not going hungry.

  • The Mayor provided the following examples of initiatives being funded through this round:

    • Providing 400 Chromebooks for young people to do their work in the Summer Jobs Program run by the Department of Youth Engagement and Employment.

    • Supporting The Guild, a community space in Four Corners led and owned by people of color, who have been distributing food, diapers and other essential items to families in need.

    • Supporting the Chinese Progressive Association, who are staffing and putting people back to work at the City’s food distribution hubs. 

  • Other partners include: United South End Settlements; the Transgender Emergency Fund of Mass.; Viet-AID; the Caribbean Youth Club; My Brother’s Keeper 617; and Turn It Around in Charlestown.

  • In total, the Fund has dispersed nearly $24 million, and 53% of those grants have gone to organizations led by people of color. The Mayor noted that this support is having a positive and equitable impact across the City at a very difficult time. 

Reminder about the 2020 Census:

  • The Mayor reminded people that in the midst of the anxiety and concern caused by the pandemic and economic disruption, one concrete thing they can do to take action is fill out the 2020 Census. He said whatever resources will be made available by the federal government to address the ongoing economic disruption due to COVID-19 will be distributed based on Census data.

  • He is asking everyone to fill out the Census if they haven’t already. Residents can fill out the Census online at my2020census.gov or over the phone in 13 languages.

  • He also noted that the City’s current response rate is under 53%—and that is lower than both the national and statewide rates, which are 62% and 64% respectively. While this response rate isn’t unique for big, diverse cities, we need to get that number up to make sure Boston gets all the representation and the resources our residents deserve.

  • Census workers will be knocking on doors starting August 11, if households haven’t responded. 

  • The Census Bureau has also started a mobile operation to visit public spaces and gatherings, with appropriate distancing and PPE, to help people fill out the Census. The Mayor noted that the City is still not approving events of more than 50 people, but if people want to bring Census staff to their community, they can reach out to the City’s Census liaison, Sebastian Zapata, by calling 311 or visiting the Boston Counts 2020 web page. 

Addressing violence on Tuesday night:

  • The Mayor addressed a shooting that happened in Roxbury on Tuesday night, noting that someone, apparently committing a robbery, shot a store clerk in a brutal and cold-blooded act of violence.

  • He said the victim was a young man and an immigrant, who went to work on Tuesday to earn money and try to stay safe from COVID-19. Now, he’s in the hospital fighting for his life. Commissioner Gross spoke more about the Police Department’s investigation and community outreach.

  • The Mayor expressed his anger and frustration about the cruel and senseless acts of violence that have happened in Boston this summer. Every day, the City is working to eliminate the root causes of violent crime. But he noted that anyone who commits a crime like this makes a choice to inflict pain and suffering on a fellow human, and perpetuate trauma and violence in their community. They must be held accountable for those choices and harms, and the violence needs to stop. 

Best,

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