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Recap of Mayor Walsh’s Press Briefing on April 24th

Did you miss Mayor Marty Walsh’s press briefing on Friday? Don’t worry! Here’s a recap of the facts, information and data below. 

Appointment of Fire Commissioner John Dempsey:

  • The Mayor announced he has appointed John Dempsey to the permanent post of Fire Commissioner for the City of Boston.
  • Commissioner Dempsey is a 35-year veteran of the Boston Fire Department who has risen through the ranks of leadership. He was appointed to the interim position in early March, just before the acceleration of the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • The Mayor noted that Commissioner Dempsey has approached this unprecedented crisis with professionalism and decisiveness. By quickly implementing safety protocols, cleaning upgrades, and Personal Protective Equipment, he has kept firefighters safe and the Department fully operational in serving the people of Boston. 

Update on testing access:

  • The Mayor reiterated that increased testing for COVID-19 is a City priority. Testing helps us better understand how many people are infected and where; allows us to direct medical resources more efficiently and equitably; tells us more about how the virus behaves and what we can expect moving forward; and is necessary before steps can be taken toward reopening and recovery. 
  • He repeated his call for the federal government to make a strong commitment to testing resources and access. 
  • He provided an update on our work expanding testing access in Boston.
  • The Boston Resiliency Fund has used over $760,000 to expand testing at nine community health centers in East Boston, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury.  
  • We’ve granted an additional $270,000 for telehealth services and equipment at those community health centers, to connect testing to treatment options. 
  • We now have 15 testing sites in the City of Boston. That includes 10 operated by community health centers and 5 operated by hospitals. A map of testing sites and contact information is available at boston.gov/coronavirus
  • Residents are reminded to call ahead for pre-screening and to schedule an appointment. 
  • The Boston Public Health Commission is now sharing testing data at the neighborhood level. 
  • In the last week, we’ve had a 30% increase in the amount of testing citywide, and larger increases in the areas hardest hit by infection. 

    • Hyde Park has had a 57% increase in testing.
    • Mattapan has had a 35% increase in testing. 
    • The hardest-hit zip codes in Dorchester saw a 37% increase in testing.  
  • The goal is for every community health center to provide testing for residents. 
  • The Mayor also reminded residents that testing is free and you will not be asked about your immigration status at a testing site. 

Update on testing and care for people experiencing homelessness: 

  • Our goal is to test everyone who uses emergency shelters in Boston, in order to limit the spread of the virus and care for this vulnerable population. 
  • As of yesterday, 1,340 shelter guests have been tested. Roughly one third of those have tested positive. 
  • The Mayor announced that the City has secured 1,000 additional tests, which will allow universal testing for guests in our shelter system, in addition to some shelter staff.
  • The tests are being donated by a Boston company called Orig3n. 
  • The testing will be done over the next two weeks, led by Boston Health Care for the Homeless in coordination with the Boston Public Health Commission, St. Francis House, and the Pine Street Inn. 
  • Individuals who test positive will receive the care and support they need to recover. 
  • Individuals who test negative will be placed in designated areas to allow for better physical distancing to prevent transmission. 

Reminder to landlords and tenants that immigration status does not affect a tenant’s rights:

  • The Mayor heard concerns about this issue, given the financial challenges many are facing and despite the halt on eviction proceedings in Boston and statewide. 
  • If you are a tenant who feels threatened, stay in your home and call 3-1-1. There are laws in place to protect you. 
  • The Office of Fair Housing and the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement can provide advice and support. 

Update to small business regulations:

  • The City is now allowing restaurants to sell grocery items, including produce, paper products, and more. 
  • This step will help restaurants and it may cut down on customers’ essential trips outside the home. 
  • Restaurants that want to start selling groceries must follow strict food safety guidelines. 
  • They will also need to follow clear guidelines for packaging and labeling foods. 
  • Restaurants will still be required to limit occupancy to 10 people at any time, and maintain physical distancing, with at least 6 feet in between all staff and customers. 
  • To get started, restaurants should submit a Health Safety and Operations Plan to the Licensing Board. 
  • For more information, go to Boston.gov/coronavirus.

Reminder to practice social distancing while shopping and respect grocery workers’ safety: 

  • Everyone must wear masks or face coverings in grocery stores, to help protect fellow shoppers and especially the workers. 
  • Dispose of all face coverings, masks, and gloves appropriately, and do not throw them on the ground, outside of stores or anywhere. 

General social distancing reminder: 

  • Continue to stay home whenever possible, practice distancing and wear face coverings outside the house, wash your hands, and clean and disinfect surfaces. 
  • The City of Boston is asking City and community lead

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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.