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Recap of Mayor Walsh’s Press Briefing from July 2nd

Please see below for updates from Mayor Walsh’s press briefing on Thursday, July 2, 2020.

Case numbers:

  • As of Wednesday in Massachusetts: 109,143 cases and 8,081 deaths.

  • As of Thursday in Boston: 13,491 cases, 711 deaths, and 9,484 recoveries.

  • The Mayor reminded residents that while in Boston and Massachusetts the number of new cases continues to go down, in other parts of the country there have been significant spikes, with several outbreaks traced to social gatherings.

  • Especially heading into 4th of July weekend, everyone must remain vigilant, with social distancing, face covering, and hand washing. The Mayor asked residents not to hold large cookouts or parties, and specifically asked anyone who is over 65, or medically vulnerable, to stay with their immediate household and not go to gatherings of any kind.

Public safety updates:

  • The Mayor was joined at today’s press conference by a multi-disciplinary team focused on preventing violence in Boston’s neighborhoods, with an emphasis on engaging youth with positive opportunities. The Mayor gave an overview of their work leading into the Fourth of July.

  • Commissioner Willie Gross and his team at the Boston Police Department have resumed and expanded their youth outreach events in recent weeks. Arrests are down this year by 30%.

  • Rufus Faulk and the Office of Public Safety have been meeting weekly with community partners who work directly with at-risk young people, including the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, MBK Boston, Roca Boston, and the Violence Intervention teams at Boston Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. They have also been building relationships with youth and adults who are not connected to organizations, like informal sports leagues.

  • Talia Rivera and the streetworkers on the City’s SOAR team have launched an outreach plan to engage the highest risk young people in Boston. They will be out late into the night at hotspots where gang activity and retaliation is an issue, engaging young people and sharing PPE and hand sanitizer.

  • The City’s Youth Employment team is hiring 1,500 young people to start jobs next week. Their goal is to hire 5,000 young people in City jobs, and, with partners in other sectors, to fill a total of 8,000 youth jobs this summer.

  • The Boston Centers for Youth and Families is working to engage 1,500 young people in creative and safe summer programming.

  • And in the Boston Public Health Commission, the Trauma Teams, the mental health specialists, and the Office of Recovery Services have remained fully operational during the pandemic and are supporting the community.

Fireworks:

  • The Mayor addressed the ongoing issue of illegal fireworks in Boston’s neighborhoods. He reiterated that fireworks continue to be illegal without a special permit in the state of Massachusetts.

  • Fireworks are triggering a wide range of traumas that are causing real harm, especially to veterans, to people with PTSD, to survivors of violence, to seniors, and to families with young children, as well as pets.

  • The City has been holding outdoor community meetings to share information and create inclusive responses. The Mayor thanked state and local elected officials and civic associations who have been involved in that work.

  • The BPD has confiscated significant amounts of fireworks, and the City has also created a task force to act on community recommendations and keep this work going. The task force includes Chief of Civic Engagement Jerome Smith; the four At-Large City Councilors; Commissioner Jack Dempsey and his Arson team; the Boston Police Department’s Bureau of Community Engagement; and community leaders. This task force is focusing on outreach and communication about the harms from illegal fireworks in the community.

  • The Mayor issued a warning going into the 4th of July weekend. He urged all residents to consider the effect of fireworks on their neighbors, including vulnerable groups. He also encouraged anyone who hears or sees fireworks in their neighborhood to call 9-1-1. If anyone has information about the illegal buying and selling of fireworks, they can contact the CrimeStoppers Tip Line anonymously at 1-800-494-TIPS or by texting the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).

Summer food access updates:

  • Starting this Monday, July 6, the City will open youth meal sites at 97 locations across the city. The Boston Public Schools will also continue delivering meals to the homes of students with disabilities.

  • This is an extension of the Summer Eats program the City launched in 2017 for young people in summer programs. This year, the City is extending it to all residents 18 and under, building on the food access network that provided over 2 million meals all across the city since the Boston Public Schools closed due the COVID pandemic in March.

New grants administered through the Boston Resiliency Fund:

  • This week and last week, the City provided nearly $2 million in grants to 15 organizations, including a range of food access providers. They include Mass Farmers Market, which will provide weekly coupons to people in need, regardless of immigration status, to spend at farmers markets across the city. Additional grants are supporting domestic violence shelters; housing programs; addiction recovery; and more.

  • To date, the Boston Resiliency Fund has raised $32.4 million and distributed $22.5 million of those resources into communities where the needs are greatest.

Updates on childcare:

  • The City’s Childcare Entrepreneur Fund has begun its second round of applications. The City will provide cash grants and business workshops to 25 family child care providers this summer and 25 more in the fall.

  • The Mayor discussed the need for large-scale solutions for childcare in the United States, and pointed to the progressive work that’s happening in Boston as an example of what’s possible when a community comes together to support early educators who provide critical services to families. Applications are available until July 22 at boston.gov/childcarefund.

Update on the Boston Saves Child Savings Account program:

  • The Boston Saves program just completed the first year of universal access to free savings accounts for five-year-old children, and the City is eager to sign up new families. Families with a child entering kindergarten are eligible for a $50 account and ongoing support to build those savings for the child’s education. Visit BostonSavesCSA.org to learn more.

Arts and Culture COVID-19 Fund:

  • The Mayor stated that arts and culture are essential to healthy communities, and that the arts have been hit hard by the pandemic. Many organizations had to cancel programs and many will not be able to come back fully until 2021, and the City is working to provide them with the support they need to be able to reopen successfully when it is safe.

  • Already, the Boston Artist Relief Fund, in partnership with the Boston Center for the Arts, has provided grants to 515 individual artists.

  • Today the Mayor announced that the City is creating a $1 million fund for organizations that have been impacted, called the Arts and Culture COVID-19 Fund. Funding is available to Boston-based organizations with budgets less than $5 million. Applications will begin on Tuesday July 7 at boston.gov/arts.

July Drive-in Movie Series:

  • The City has adapted its annual outdoor movie series to this summer’s reality. Next Wednesday, the July Drive-In Movie Series will begin. There will be showings of classic films as well as contemporary favorites, playing in outdoor lots at the Convention Center in South Boston and Wentworth Institute of Technology in Mission Hill.

  • This program is a creative partnership between the Parks Department, the Office of Tourism, Sports, and Entertainment, the Age Strong Commission, and the Highland Street Foundation.

  • Due to social distancing precautions that the City is taking in order to host this event, you must be a City of Boston Resident and you must have a ticket to attend this event. This series is already very popular and as of now tickets are sold out. For more information, visit boston.gov/driveinmovies.

The Mayor closed with the following reflection on the Fourth of July:

“We are now 244 years into our American journey. Independence Day is a time to reflect on our history and our ideals. This year we enter the July 4 weekend already in conversation about fundamental issues. We’re talking about the rights of all people to be free: free to speak, free to worship, free to thrive unburdened by hunger, fear, racism, or oppression. And we’re talking about our ability to act together, as a community, against a common threat to all those freedoms.

It’s not an easy conversation. It’s a time of stress and, for many people, grief. But I am convinced this conversation and these experiences are making us better.

We will keep each other safe and keep moving toward equality as long as we respond, not by turning on each other, by turning to each other, and recognizing the rights of every human being to safety, dignity, and freedom. That belief informs all the work we do. And if we fight together for that idea, we will move forward as a stronger city and country.”

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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.