8.5 min readBy Published On: March 15th, 2021Categories: News0 Comments

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Monday, March 15.

ASL interpretation:

  • No ASL interpreters were available for today’s press briefing. A fully captioned video will be posted by tomorrow.

Latest COVID numbers:

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts yesterday (Sunday) reported 1,508 new confirmed cases for a total of 568,616; and 30 new deaths for a total of 16,311.

  • The City of Boston today (Monday) reported 87 new cases for a total of 61,025; and 4 new deaths for a total of 1,313.

The latest complete data is for the week ending March 7:

  • An average of 3,942 Boston residents were tested for COVID each day.

  • The 7-day average for daily positive tests was 165.

  • The average daily positive rate was 3.6%.

  • As of March 10, 23.7% of Boston residents, 16 and older, have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, and 13.3% are fully vaccinated. More detailed data is available at bphc.org.

Importance of remaining vigilant:

  • The Mayor said that Boston’s numbers have stayed below our thresholds for concern for several weeks. The number of people hospitalized continues to go down. More people are getting vaccinated every day. And help is on the way from the Federal government.

  • He said that there are reasons to be hopeful, but that we’re not out of the woods yet. Everyone has to stay focused so that we don’t slip backward. That means: wearing a mask with a good fit, washing hands with soap and warm water, avoiding gatherings, and getting tested frequently. The Mayor said that people who have been vaccinated should look at the CDC’s guidance on activities they can do safely, which is posted on CDC.gov.

Exercising vigilance the week of St. Patrick’s Day:

  • The Mayor thanked the people of Boston for respecting public health guidance so far during the week of St. Patrick’s Day. He said that the City didn’t have many reports of big gatherings. City departments were out enforcing safety protocols at restaurants, and for the most part, everyone was in compliance. No emergency Licensing Board hearings were needed this morning. The Mayor thanked restaurants for their cooperation.

  • He said, “We need everyone to keep it up this coming week and weekend, too. As I said last week, having a party and potentially causing an outbreak, isn’t worth it. I thank everyone who continues to do their part.”

Testing update:

  • The Mayor said that testing is still one of the most essential tools we have to control the spread of the virus. The City is again asking everyone to commit to getting tested, and is asking employers to support their workers getting tested. Anyone can make that commitment, and find helpful resources, at Boston.gov/TestingPledge.

  • There are 25 testing sites in Boston, and we have mobile testing sites that are free and open to everyone, regardless of symptoms. This week they are:

    • In Jamaica Plain: at the Anna Cole Community Center in the Mildred Hailey Apartments.

    • In Hyde Park: at Boston Renaissance Charter School.

    • In Dorchester: at the Strand Theatre; and Prince Hall Grand Lodge.

  • For information about how to access these sites and others, visit Boston.gov or call 3-1-1.

Vaccine update:

  • The Mayor said that the City continues to support the State vaccine rollout.

  • Right now, adults 65 and older, and adults with 2 underlying health conditions, are eligible to get the vaccine. That’s in addition to everyone eligible in Phase 1. As of last week, teachers, childcare workers, and K-12 school staff are now eligible as well. Complete information on eligibility and pre-registration for mass vaccination sites are available at Mass.gov/CovidVaccine. The Mayor said that there are vaccination sites all across the city that are open to all eligible residents, and the City has resources to help residents access them.

  • For veterans of all ages:

    • If you are enrolled in VA Healthcare you can get vaccinated at any VA Healthcare facility. Our Office of Veterans Services is continuing to partner with the VA on walk-in vaccine clinics.

    • There was one this past Saturday at VFW Post 1018 in Dorchester.

    • There will be another one this Wednesday, March 17, at the William E. Carter American Legion Post in Mattapan from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    • This Saturday, March 20, at Urban Edge on Columbus Ave. in Roxbury from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    • Free transportation is available for both of these clinics if veterans need it. For more information go to Boston.gov/veterans or call 3-1-1.

  • For teachers and school staff:

    • This weekend, BPS launched a vaccination clinic for BPS staff at the BCYF Gallivan Community Center in Mattapan. It’s open to all BPS employees and contractors, including teachers, staff, and bus drivers. It’s open Sunday through Thursday this week and next. It will open again in a few weeks to provide second doses.

    • BPS is also partnering with the Boston Teachers Union to offer a second location, at the BTU Hall in Dorchester, when more doses are available.

Update on BPS reopening:

  • Today, BPS welcomed students in grades 4-8 back to in-person classrooms, if their families opted in. If the public health data stays in a good place, students in grades 9-12 can return on March 29.

  • Currently, in-person school is on a hybrid schedule. The State is calling on districts to give all elementary and middle-school students the option of full-time in-person school, beginning in April. BPS is working towards this goal.

  • The Mayor said that BPS and the City will continue to respect family choice, so remote learning will be an option for all families. BPS sent out a survey this morning asking families their preference: remote learning or fully in-person. Families are asked to complete this form, for each child, by next Monday, March 22. More information is at BostonPublicSchools.org.

Update on outdoor dining:

  • Two weeks ago, the Mayor announced that approved restaurants could begin outdoor dining on April 1st, and possibly sooner, weather permitting.

  • On Friday, the City announced that it would move up the opening date to Monday March 22. We will once again allow dining on some roadways and public spaces. The Boston Disabilities Commission will also provide ramps to restaurants that need them.

  • An important note: Due to the high density of restaurants in the North End neighborhood, North End restaurants will begin on April 1st. Set up in the North End may begin March 29th.

  • The City of Boston has been doing proactive outreach to our small businesses, holding weekly Help Sessions through the winter to help businesses navigate the pilot process. City staff have made hundreds of personalized calls to businesses that applied for outdoor dining last year.

  • The Mayor said that the City is putting a big emphasis on outreach to businesses owned by people of color. The Office of Economic Development has been working with the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition to promote the technical assistance that the City can provide.

  • The City will continue to host office hours and workshops to help businesses with their applications. To learn more or apply for outdoor dining, visit Boston.gov/2021OutdoorDining.

Update on the American Rescue Plan:

  • The Mayor and Massachusetts Congressman Stephen Lynch discussed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan which was passed by the House and Senate last week and signed into law by President Biden on Thursday.

  • The Mayor said: “With more people getting vaccinated, students returning to the classroom, and restaurants resuming outdoor service, the light at the end of the tunnel is growing bigger and brighter. But we still have a long road of recovery ahead. Every day, here at City Hall, we’re looking at the economic data. And we’re listening to the front-line workers, the families, the small business owners, and the industries that are impacted by COVID. It’s clear that the harm done by this pandemic is deep and long-lasting. We’ve worked hard as a city, to be there for each other and meet these needs over the past year. Every department here at City Hall is still working around the clock to serve our residents. But in many ways, the work of recovery is only beginning. So I’m grateful to be able to say today, that help is here to support our work in Boston.

  • Regarding the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the Mayor thanked the President, the Congress, and especially our Massachusetts delegation — who he said have been leaders in Washington throughout this pandemic. He said that he was proud to advocate with them as partners for the help our communities need, and that he was proud to advocate with my bipartisan fellow mayors, through the U.S. Conference of Mayors, for a comprehensive recovery plan.

  • The resulting legislation addresses every aspect of the crisis that we see in our cities, including:

    • The COVID testing and vaccination needs.

    • The income loss.

    • The childcare struggle.

    • Housing relief and homeless services.

    • School reopening and learning loss.

    • Food security.

    • Small business support.

  • The American people, including Bostonians, are going to experience the benefits right away:

    • $1,400 relief checks have begun to go out. That’s $5,600 for a family of 4, if your income is under $150,000.

    • Expanded child tax credits of up to $3,600 per child will be paid out in monthly installments.

    • The $300 weekly boost to unemployment benefits will be extended through the spring and the summer.

    • All the major food benefits are strengthened and expanded.

    • Housing funds for rental relief, mortgage and utility help, homeless services.

    • Child care grants for providers and increased tax credits for families.

    • Major support for small businesses.

  • These benefits are for everyone. The Biden Administration has effectively ended the previous Administration’s “public charge” rule, which prevented some immigrants from getting services.

  • Some additional ways this new legislation will impact Boston and Massachusetts:

    • The American Rescue Plan invests a total of $350 billion in state and local government, and another $130 billion in K-12 education.

    • Boston will be able to use these funds through 2025, so it will support our long-term recovery.

  • The Mayor then asked Congressman Stephen Lynch to speak more on the American Rescue Plan and what it means for Boston and surrounding communities.

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