Did you miss the mayor’s press briefing on Monday? Don’t worry! You can still be informed. Here’s a recap of the facts, information and data shared during the COVID-19 presser on May 4th.

Case Numbers:

  • Massachusetts: 68,087 cases and 4,004 deaths.

  • Boston: 9,929 cases, 426 deaths, and 2,309 recoveries.

Case trends in Boston:

  • Mayor Walsh provided some additional data to illustrate the current state of the coronavirus outbreak in Boston.

  • The daily increase in cases has been roughly steady for some time.

  • The number of people in ICU care for COVID-19 at Boston hospitals has been gradually going down.

  • At the same time, Boston hospitals are still operating at around 120% of normal ICU capacity.

  • The city is still relying on Boston Hope Medical Center at the BCEC to help make that space available. As of Sunday night, there were 161 patients at Boston Hope, including 63 on the homeless respite side, and 98 on the hospital side. Altogether, 548 patients have been treated at the facility. This is allowing hospitals to maintain expanded ICU capacity.

  • Mayor Walsh expressed that Boston is moving in the right direction, but that this is not a time to ease up on the precautions we are taking to prevent the spread of the virus.

Continued outreach efforts:

  • This weekend, City of Boston Neighborhood Liaisons and community partners began distributing new COVID-19 information booklets with information on how to stay safe during the coronavirus outbreak. This information is available in 7 languages. In total, they will be distributing about 70,000 of these booklets to places like convenience stores, banks, and food distribution sites. They are following the recommendations of the The City’s Health Inequities Task Force, to target neighborhoods with the greatest needs.

Statewide face covering mandate:

  • The Mayor reminded residents that Governor Baker has issued an executive order requiring all Massachusetts residents over the age of 2 to wear face coverings in public and wherever physical distancing is a challenge, including at grocery stores, retail stores, and on public transit. This order goes into effect on Wednesday, May 6.

New steps and new progress to expand testing access:

  • So far, about 28,000 Boston residents, or 4% of the City’s population, have been tested for COVID-19. Last week, testing increased by 44%. Currently, about 32% of people who get tested are testing positive. This number has been trending down slightly. The City is analyzing the data to see how the virus is impacting certain neighborhoods the hardest.

  • COVID-19 testing is being conducted at Boston’s hospitals and community health centers. By the end of this week, there will be 19 testing sites in Boston. This week, Brigham & Women’s Hospital will begin running a testing site at the BCYF Tobin Center in Roxbury. Residents can find a map of testing sites on boston.gov and bphc.org. The Mayor reminded residents to call ahead for pre-screening and to schedule an appointment.

  • The City is continuing to conduct universal testing among the homeless population. So far, more than 1,800 homeless individuals in Boston have been tested. About 33%, or 596 individuals, have tested positive. 2 homeless individuals have passed away from COVID-19 in Boston.

  • The City’s antibody testing initiative is ongoing. This is a partnership with Mass General Hospital, that entails testing 1,000 residents of East Boston, Roslindale and the 02121 and 02125 zip codes of Dorchester. These neighborhoods reflect Boston’s diversity and the results will provide important information about how different populations are being impacted. The City will make a summary of the results available, including the numbers and percentage of residents who test positive for the virus and its antibodies.

Boston Public Schools update:

  • On Friday, May 1, BPS shared new policies with families and schools for remote learning. Those policies go into effect today, Monday May 4. This updated learning plan gives more guidance for students and teachers around attendance, assignments, grading, and scheduling. It also provides predictability for families with routine class schedules and contact between students and teachers. As part of the new policies, no student will be held back in their grade. All students will advance to the next grade and have opportunities for summer learning and additional support in the fall. If parents believe their child would benefit from repeating their grade, they can request a meeting with their teacher to discuss further.

  • The City of Boston is working with the Boston Public Schools to develop plans to honor graduating seniors and their families. Details will be shared soon.

  • The Mayor stated that throughout the final weeks of the school year, BPS will continue distributing free meals for students and other resources; connecting with students on a routine basis; and collaborating with school communities, nonprofit partners, and parent groups, to ensure that students are getting the support they need.

  • The Mayor thanked Boston’s teachers and staff for their continued cooperation during this difficult time, acknowledging that this week is Teachers Appreciation Week, and tomorrow is National Teachers Day.

Expanding food access for families and seniors in need.

  • The Mayor discussed a new food benefit that he wanted to make sure families are aware of.

  • Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) is a special food benefit authorized by the federal coronavirus bill. It’s available for all Boston Public Schools and Charter School students while schools are closed. Households will receive $5.70 per child per school day for the duration of school closures—or $28.50 a week per child. If families currently receive SNAP benefits, the P-EBT will be added to their cards. If families aren’t enrolled, they will get cards sent to them in the mail. Some families may have gotten their benefits last week, and everyone else can expect to receive theirs in the coming weeks.

  • Using P-EBT benefits does not impact any adult or child’s immigration status, and the Public Charge rule does not apply to P-EBT benefits.

  • If families have questions about P-EBT, SNAP, WIC or other food resources, they can call Project Bread’s Hotline at 1-800-645-8333. They can also contact the city’s Office of Food Access at 617-635-3717 or by email at [email protected].

  • The City also continues to operate 65 youth-oriented meal sites, which are open every weekday with weekend meals available on Friday. Eight of these sites serve youth and adults in East Boston, Dorchester, South Boston, Mattapan, and Brighton, Mission Hill and Egleston Square, which is easily accessible from Roxbury and JP.  By the end of this week the City will have added an additional 8 sites in East Boston, Charlestown, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and Roxbury, almost doubling the number of meals available to adults. The City has served more than 740,000 meals at its meal sites so far. For hours and locations, visit the Food Resources Map on Boston.gov or call 3-1-1.

  • The City is also continuing to serve seniors through the Meals on Wheels program. Last week over 58,000 meals were distributed, representing a 33% increase from the pre-COVID levels.

  • The City is also launching a new food program with the Greater Boston Food Bank, Boston Public Schools, the Boston Housing Authority, and the Age Strong Commission. This week, they will distribute 2,400 boxes of food to households in need within the Boston Housing Authority and at others identified by the Age Strong Commission.

  • The Mayor thanked all of the partners who have helped make this happen, including volunteers with the Building Trades, the BHA, the Building Trades, and the Newmarket Business Association.

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