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Recap of Mayor Walsh’s Press Briefing from July 28th

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

Case numbers:

  • As of Tuesday in Massachusetts: 116,182 cases and 8,551 deaths. These numbers include both confirmed and probable cases.

  • As of Tuesday in Boston: 14,022 cases, 729 deaths, and 10,090 recoveries.

Recap on this past weekend:

  • The Mayor issued a heat emergency on Sunday July 26th, which is in effect until today, Tuesday July 28th. This is the second weekend in a row that the City has declared a heat emergency. The City opened 21 BCYF Centers as cooling centers.

  • Last week, the City opened two outdoor pools for the season: the Clougherty Pool in Charlestown and the Mirabella Pool in the North End. Both pools reached their daily capacity limits of 225 swimmers most days since opening. The opening was successful, and the Mayor thanked residents for following safety guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

  • The Mayor reminded residents that space is still available in BCYF programming, both in-person and remote. These programs are all free. To register or learn more, visit Boston.gov/BCYFSummer.

COVID and heat safety reminders:

  • The Mayor reminded residents to take basic precautions to protect themselves and others in the wake of both the summer heat as well as the COVID-19 pandemic: wear a face covering, unless in water; keep at least six feet of distance from others and avoid crowds; avoid large in-person gatherings or parties; avoid being outside in the middle of the day during a heat wave; check on elderly neighbors on hot days; stay hydrated all day; watch for signs of heat exhaustion; and call 911 if you see anyone experiencing difficulty due to the heat.

  • The Mayor discussed the increase in COVID-19 cases nationwide, referencing the fact that the number of coronavirus deaths in the United States topped 1,000 for four consecutive days last week. He said that it’s vitally important for all residents to remain vigilant.

Update on reopening college campuses:

  • The Mayor and his administration have been communicating with the leadership of local colleges and universities on a regular basis. They have been working closely with these institutions regarding the new COVID-19 protocols and precautions for higher ed, and to create plans if someone were to test positive in a campus community.

  • The City is also helping colleges and universities plan safe housing options for students to decrease campus density. Earlier this month, the City issued guidance for permitting off-campus spaces, like hotels, for temporary student housing. The BPDA, along with Inspectional Services and Licensing, is in the process of reviewing four applications. These applications are posted on the BPDA website for anyone to see, and approvals will also be posted as they are issued. Once plans are approved by the BPDA, ISD will perform inspections of these spaces to make sure they meet safety standards. Each college and university submitting a plan must engage nearby residents with notification of their plans, and talk about how a neighborhood can reach out to them if issues arise.

  • The City is also working with the State on contact tracing efforts in partnership with local colleges and universities. Along with testing, this will be one of the most powerful tools in ensuring that transmission rates remain low in the Boston area.

  • This week, the Mayor will meet with college presidents to further discuss their reopening plans. He will be asking them how they plan to adhere to the Governor’s quarantine order for students living on-campus as well as off-campus.

Update on the Boston Public Schools:

  • Last week, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius presented a draft reopening plan to the Boston School Committee, which includes considerations for a variety of scenarios. BPS is following public health guidelines for reopening schools in their planning. BPS has been gathering feedback from students, families, and staff for months via surveys, focus groups, and community meetings.

Census week of action:

  • This week is another Week of Action to increase Boston’s response rate for the 2020 Census, and today is a Day of Action in Boston. Boston’s response rate is currently at 53%, 12 points below the city’s response rate in 2010.

  • The Mayor encouraged all residents to fill out the Census online at my2020census.gov or over the phone in 13 languages.

  • Census workers will start knocking on doors starting August 11th, if households haven’t responded. The Census Bureau’s mobile operation is visiting public spaces to help people fill out the Census. They can also host online events. To learn more, residents can call 3-1-1 or visit the Boston Counts 2020 web page at Boston.gov.

Mail-in ballots for upcoming elections:

  • The Mayor said that registered voters in Boston should expect to get a mail-in ballot application in the mail this week, if they haven’t received it already.

  • This year, everyone can vote by a mail-in ballot. In the past, Massachusetts residents had to show that they had a disability, that their religion prevented them from voting in-person, or that they would be out of town on election day. This year, Massachusetts passed legislation that waives these requirements, and anyone who requests a mail-in ballot will get one. This will help make sure everyone can exercise their right to vote during COVID-19.

  • The Mayor said that it’s important for residents to note that they are getting an application in the mail, and they must fill it out and send it back to the Elections Department to get a mail-in ballot. As of yesterday, the City had received 4,000 applications.

  • Voters can choose which election they’d like a ballot for — the Primary Election on September 1st; the General Election on November 7th; or both. Independent voters who want to vote in the primary must check a party box. They should then sign the form, and drop it in the mail. No postage is needed. Applications to request a mail-in ballot must be received by Wednesday, August 26th for the State Primaries, and October 28th for the General Election.

  • Voters who would rather go to their polling place in-person can still do so. The City of Boston Elections Department is adding COVID-19 protocols on social distancing, sanitizing procedures, and the proper use of PPE in their training for poll workers.

  • In addition, the City of Boston will hold Early Voting again this year. Early voting for the Primaries will happen August 22nd through August 28th; and for the General Election, it will run October 17th through October 30th.

  • To learn more about mail-in ballots and the upcoming elections, visit Boston.gov/elections.

Upcoming events:

  • The Mayor discussed events happening in the coming weeks that will help business owners gain a better understanding of how city contracts work– specifically the Request for Proposals documents and the bidding process. Today at 3:30 pm there was a workshop on goods and professional services. On August 5th there will be a workshop on how to bid on construction contracts. These workshops are free and open to the public, but online registration is required. The Mayor said that these types of workshops are part of his administration’s efforts to make the City contracting process more accessible and inclusive.

  • The Police Reform Task Force continues its listening sessions this week. The Mayor thanked everyone who testified or participated in last week’s events on body-worn cameras and implicit bias. On Wednesday, July 29th, there will be a listening session on the police review board. On Thursday, July 30th, there will be a session on use of force policies. To learn more or sign up, visit Boston.gov/EndingRacism. Residents can also submit written testimony through the website on any of the four issues covered at the sessions until August 7th. After that, the Task Force will be completing its first round of recommendations, which will be open for public review for 2 weeks. The Mayor encouraged everyone to share their experiences and make their voice heard.

Fair housing:

  • The Mayor discussed the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s threat to revoke fair housing legislation intended to eliminate racial disparities, hold local governments accountable, and increase diversity in suburbs across America. The Mayor expressed anger at this move, saying that while the rest of the country is having conversations about economic justice, the Trump administration is using racist dog-whistles.

  • The Mayor discussed his administration’s commitment to fair housing in Boston, including holding bankers, lenders, property owners and landlords accountable, and making sure residents know their rights. The City is working with fair housing advocates on a plan to guide this work moving forward, and the Mayor will also be filing a zoning amendment that he believes will make Boston the first American city with fair housing requirements written into its zoning code. The Mayor said that he looks forward to continued conversations with the City Council on this topic.

  • The Mayor said that the City’s work to keep families in their homes has become even more critical during COVID-19, and that his team is working to strengthen protections for renters, homeowners, and everyone who calls Boston home.

  • Since the outbreak began, the City of Boston has made millions of dollars available in rental relief. The Boston Housing Authority paused non-essential evictions. The BHA is also working with hundreds of BPS families to provide permanent rental vouchers that lift them out of homelessness.

  • The new City budget for FY21 includes $16M of new investment in affordable housing, tenant protections, and the Office of Housing Stability.

  • The Mayor’s administration has filed several bills in the current legislative session to keep people in their homes and protect tenant rights. The Mayor said he looks forward to seeing those priorities move forward, before the legislative session ends at the end of the week.

  • In addition to protecting housing security, the Mayor discussed the urgent need for the Federal government to ensure an equitable recovery by providing immediate relief to Americans who are struggling. The federal CARES Act unemployment benefits are set to expire in just days.

  • The Mayor said that if new forms of relief don’t arrive, many families and individuals are going to face a serious struggle. He called on Congress to pass a bill to provide direct support before they adjourn for the summer, saying “The clock is ticking, and there is no time to wait. Americans need relief, and they need it right now.”

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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.