7.9 min readBy Published On: June 10th, 2020Categories: News0 Comments

Here’s a recap of Mayor Walsh’s COVID-19 press briefing on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

Case numbers:

  • As of today in Massachusetts: 104,156 cases and 7,454 deaths.

  • Also as of today in Boston: 13,074 cases, 671 deaths, and 7,893 recoveries.

Update on testing:

  • The Mayor noted that the City’s cumulative test rate has decreased to 21.4%, and for the week ending June 6 it was 5.3%. To keep these numbers going down, we have to keep taking precautions to slow the spread of the virus, and make testing widely and equitably available.

  • The Mayor outlined the ways the City has increased testing:

    • Making testing available at more than 20 sites across the City through our partnerships with Community Health Centers.

    • Conducting a second round of universal testing for the homeless population.

    • Making testing universally accessible to first responders and many frontline workers.

    • Bringing mobile testing to public housing developments and senior buildings.

  • This week, the City is offering testing to people who have been at demonstrations making their voices heard. Through a partnership with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, we created a pop-up testing site in Roxbury.

    • The site is available by walk-up, and it’s open to anyone, symptomatic or not. Please find graphics in several languages attached to help spread the word about this resource.

    • There is no special screening or requirements, but we are reaching out to organizers of demonstrations to help spread the word. This is a resource available to the community that has been active.

    • We know the risk of COVID is just one of the viruses affecting our community—and as people lift their voices to fight racism and injustice, we want to help keep them safe.

    • The Mayor noted that this week, he’s been meeting with members of his cabinet, and continuing to talk with staff of color and elected officials of color. His focus is on creating a conversation that can be sustained and lead to permanent solutions and systemic change. Those solutions have to include police reform and they have to go beyond it as well—to include housing, education, economic opportunity, and equity in public health.

Phase 2 of reopening in Boston:

  • The Mayor noted that on Monday, June 8, Phase 2 of the state reopening plan began. Most businesses are now able to begin reopening, with capacity restrictions and safety restrictions.

  • In Boston, we are opening playgrounds and splash pads this coming Monday, June 15, with new safety signage. Athletic fields and tennis courts are now open for no-contact activities, but team sports and group events are still prohibited.

  • Boston Centers for Youth and Families are planning safe summer programs for ages 6-18 starting in July. The City will be announcing more details and more departments’ plans in the days to come.

  • The Mayor cautioned that reopening does not mean the risk of COVID is gone, and that a cautious reopening means managing risk at all times. Everyone needs to be involved in that work.

    • For individuals: that includes wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing outside your home.

    • For stores, restaurants, hotels; and every business and organization: it means meeting state requirements and protocols and consulting the additional guidelines we will continue to publish at boston.gov/reopening. The City will be posting guidelines for houses of worship today.

    • The Mayor said that, when in doubt, businesses should take the more cautious approach and go at the pace that is right for them and their employees. He asked them to communicate with their workers clearly and often and include them in their planning, and reach out to the City for advice if they are uncertain.

Helping small businesses and restaurants:

  • In Phase 2, restaurants are allowed to open, but only for outdoor dining. The City has been working across multiple departments to make it a successful reality for restaurants, as they continue to recover from this crisis.

  • The City created an expedited approval process for temporary expansions onto public and private space; waived licensing fees for outdoor dining; and reached out directly to restaurants across neighborhoods and cultures. We have an equitable, citywide plan underway.

  • So far, the City has gotten almost 500 applications from across the City, from small restaurants and coffee shops in neighborhoods, to restaurants downtown.

    • More than 200 of those have been fully or conditionally approved, and approvals continue on a rolling basis every day.

  • The Mayor noted that if a restaurant has applied and received approval, they can begin outdoor service on their property, or in available public parking spaces outside their establishment, immediately. Those outdoor spaces can remain open until 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends.

  • The City is treating the North End separately, due to the density of restaurants and the opportunity to create shared space for clusters of restaurants. Outdoor dining in the North End will be ready to begin tomorrow, Thursday, June 11.

  • The Mayor told neighbors who may have concerns that the City had to move quickly to help restaurants survive, be safe, and recover, and therefore this hasn’t been a typical community process. But the conversations will continue, and the City will publish a web page with all the approvals listed. The City is committed to working with everyone who is impacted and making sure outdoor dining is successful in Boston.

  • The Mayor also announced that the first grants from the Reopen Boston Fund, which provides grants for PPE and safety materials, will be going out this Friday, June 12.

New round of Boston Resiliency Fund:

  • This week, the Boston Resiliency Fund is distributing another $825,000 to 21 organizations. These organizations are helping vulnerable Bostonians impacted by the COVID crisis—including families and seniors who need food, young people of color who are at risk, and residents returning from incarceration.

  • So far, the Fund has raised $32 million and has distributed over $20 million to those in need.

Emergency grants through the Neighborhood Jobs Trust:

  • This week, the City is dedicating $2.4 million to job training and emergency financial support for low-income workers and college students hurt by this crisis through the Neighborhood Jobs Trust. The Trust supports affordable housing and job training using linkage fees from development.

    • This new funding will support remote learning help for English language learners and re-training for hospitality and restaurant workers who lost jobs due to the pandemic.

    • The Mayor noted that job training and job placement is work that the City was doing before COVID and will continue to do after it’s over.

Summer jobs in Boston:

  • This week, the Mayor announced that the City’s Youth Employment budget is being increased to nearly $12 million this year, which includes an added $4.1 million to support 8,000 summer jobs that were at risk of being lost due to COVID.

  • He noted that the City has made tremendous progress in the last few years in professionalizing youth Summer Jobs—adding enrichments and mentoring, and tracking their impact with data—and it’s a program that has been recognized nationally. The City was determined to get creative and provide the funding needed to support our young people with positive opportunities.

  • This additional funding will include opportunities such as:

    • 500 students working with the Parks and Public Works Department on beautification projects.

    • 400 students in a peer-to-peer COVID awareness campaign.

    • Space for 300 young people in an online job skills program.

    • And another 450 to work with different two-year colleges on career pathway programs for course credits.

A warning about fireworks:

  • The Mayor addressed the issue of fireworks in the neighborhoods. While there have always been some illegal fireworks leading up to the Fourth of July, this year’s it’s worse than usual.

    • Fireworks calls to the Boston Police Department were up by a factor of 2,300% this May, compared to last May. There were 27 calls last May, and over 650 this year.

  • He stressed that is a serious issue and a fire hazard, and causes alarm and fear in our neighborhoods. He gave an example of one case last week, when police responded to a report of gunshots in Mattapan, but it turned out to be fireworks.

  • The police have been able to confiscate some illegal fireworks, but there is only so much they can do. The Mayor asked people involved with this behavior to think of the people around them and their community, and to stop it. He asked people who know of those involved in this illegal activity to let them know the impact it’s having and ask them to stop it.

  • He urged everyone to be a considerate neighbor, and support their communities.

The Mayor also wants everyone’s help in spreading the word about the US Census:

  • As of 5/21, 50% of Boston’s households have responded to the census (the national average is 59.8%) and we need to increase that percentage. We need a complete and accurate count because all of Boston deserves to be seen, heard, and invested in.

  • The 2020 Census is a way to directly increase community power. It will impact our daily lives for the next 10 years.

  • Much of the funding that comes from the Census count helps the most vulnerable among us. For example, it provides funding for health care (Medicare and Medicaid), public education (grants for special education and Boston Public Schools), food and nutrition programs (SNAP and free school breakfast/lunch programs), affordable housing (Section 8 vouchers), and child care (Head Start) for low-income families.

  • Responses to the Census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law.

  • Residents can respond online (my2020census.gov), over the phone, or by mail. They can also respond to the 2020 Census online or over the phone in 13 different languages.

 

Leave A Comment