News

Recap of Mayor Walsh’s Press Briefing on Tuesday, July 21st

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Tuesday, July 21, 2020.

Case numbers: 

  • As of today in Massachusetts: 114,033 cases and 8,450 deaths. These numbers include both confirmed and probable cases.

  • As of today in Boston: 13,860 cases, 722 deaths, and 9,931 recoveries.

Statewide eviction moratorium and housing supports:

  • The Mayor began his press conference by acknowledging the Governor’s announcement today to extend the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures to October 17. He said it was an important step, as the City and State works to protect residents from harm and manage the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • He reminded everyone that the City of Boston offers services and resources for anyone struggling with housing. 

    • Struggling renters can contact the Office of Housing Stability. The City’s Rental Relief Fund continues to be available for those who do not qualify for unemployment benefits. 

    • For help with mortgages, residents are encouraged to reach out to their lenders. The City has agreements with major lenders to provide payment deferral plans.  

Update on testing and recovery metrics:

  • The Mayor said that Boston continues to move forward cautiously in Phase 3 Step 1 of the statewide reopening plan. The City is watching the data closely every day, and the recovery metrics are still positive. 

    • For the week ending July 13, the City’s positive test rate was 2.1%, down from 2.5% the week before. The cumulative positive rate since the pandemic began is now 14.2%. 

  • The Mayor noted that there is a clear cause-and-effect relationship between collective decisions, individual behaviors, and the spread of the virus, and that we see what happens in other cities and states when that science is ignored. 

  • He reminded everyone what they must keep doing, to help the City prevent transmission and prevent another surge: wear a face covering whenever you are out; keep six feet of distance and avoid crowds; wash your hands frequently; and clean your surfaces. 

    • People should also follow all the public health guidelines for their place of work or business, as well as understand and manage the risks of infection before proceeding with any new activity.

Update on testing:

  • The Mayor urged everyone who has concerns about exposure to get tested. Boston has expanded testing to the point that it is widely available across the City at more than 20 locations. To see what testing sites are open near you, check the map at boston.gov/coronavirus, call 311, or call your healthcare provider. 

  • The City has also worked to support sites that offer free testing for everyone, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. Today, the City is launching a new mobile testing team that will be operating for the next three months across the City. This is a dedicated, City-led effort to meet community need and ensure testing is available wherever there might be gaps in access or evidence of inequity.

  • It starts today at the BCYF Jackson Mann Community Center in Allston, and will move to a different neighborhood every two weeks. The Mayor noted that Allston-Brighton is one of the lowest tested neighborhoods in the City. 

  • This mobile testing team reflects the City’s continued commitment to citywide testing access, and it reflects our commitment to leading our recovery with a robust and equitable public health strategy. The Mayor thanked the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center for their partnership. 

Addressing the heat wave and an update on summer resources:

  • This past weekend through yesterday, the Mayor declared a heat emergency in the City of Boston. The City opened 20 BCYF community centers to the public as cooling centers, at 40% of building capacity for distancing needs. The City did not see heavy use of those centers and did not come close to meeting that restricted capacity, but they were still available for residents in need.

  • The Mayor reminded everyone that they should avoid being outside in the middle of the day during a heat wave, and that is especially important for seniors. He encouraged everyone to check on elderly neighbors on hot days, by phone or in person while wearing a face covering and physical distancing. He urged people to call 911 if they see anyone experiencing difficulty.

  • The City is working to expand opportunities for people to use outdoor spaces, which are essential resources for fresh air, exercise, recreation, and mental health. Everyone must remember to follow public health guidelines, whether in a city park or on a state beach. That means wearing a face covering when near others, giving at least six feet of space, and avoiding crowds. 

  • Starting tomorrow, the City of Boston’s two outdoor swimming pools will be open to the public: the Clougherty Pool in Charlestown and the Mirabella Pool in the North End. These are both operated by Boston Centers for Youth and Families. 

  • The Mayor noted that, right now, the 16 indoor pools at BCYF centers are only open for youth in summer programs. But the City wants to have the outdoor pools available as an opportunity for cooling off and getting exercise during the summer. 

  • He went over the new protocols in place, due to COVID-19: 

    • Pool capacity will be 40% of normal, which means 75 people or fewer at a time. People must register for a time slot at Boston.gov/BCYF-Summer. There will be no walk-up admission. 

    • Registration will go live 24 hours before the following day’s sessions. Right now, registration is open today for tomorrow’s slots. 

    • Sessions will be 90 minutes and residents should only sign up for one session per day. Three children under the age of 12 are allowed per adult. 

    • When registering for a session, people will be asked COVID-19 screening questions, and will be asked again when they arrive at the pool. 

    • People should arrive dressed to swim, because locker rooms and changing areas will be closed. Restrooms will be accessible. 

    • People must wear a face covering at all times, except when in the water, and keep six feet of distance between household groups. 

    • Cleaning and disinfecting will be done at opening and closing time and between each swim session. 

  • The Mayor noted a lot of hard work went into opening the City’s pools safely, and asks for everyone’s cooperation to make this plan a success. 

  • He also said that, unlike other years, all BCYF programming this year—including the use of outdoor pools—is completely free of charge. That includes 181 classes and 300 programs for children and youth at our community centers. 

    • So far, over 700 young people have been registered for BCYF programming, in addition to nearly 500 in our virtual teen programs. 

    • There are still open slots at Boston.gov/BCYFSummer.

Update on Healthy Streets Initiative:

  • The Mayor provided an update on the City’s Healthy Streets Initiative, a package of changes to improve social-physical spacing in Boston’s neighborhoods; help workers and small businesses recover; and continue the work the City was doing before the crisis to make public space in Boston more safe, accessible, and healthy.

  • He announced that temporary bike lanes in several downtown and Back Bay locations are being completed today. These are streets that connect neighborhood routes to downtown job centers, making for safer and healthier commutes.

  • In addition, a temporary lane reduction and bike lane will be installed this Friday on Cummins Highway in Mattapan. 

  • Last night, the City had a successful community meeting on the planned redesign of Columbus Avenue in Roxbury from Jackson Square through Egleston Square down to Walnut Ave. at Franklin Park. 

  • All of this work builds on the City’s progress so far this summer, which includes: 

    • 9 extended bus stops; 

    • 368 approved outdoor dining locations on sidewalks or streets; 

    • 125 temporary Food Pickup Zones;

    • 23 temporary Food Truck locations alongside parks throughout the City, now operating in our neighborhoods; 

    • And bus/bike lanes on Essex St. and Washington St. in Chinatown, improving commutes from Roxbury, the South End, and Chinatown to downtown. 

    • The Mayor noted that this is the work of many partners, including the Boston Transportation Department, Public Works, the Office of Economic Development, and most importantly, local communities and small businesses.

  • The City is also working to make sure that public spaces are accessible and accommodating to all our residents and visitors. Already, the City has distributed 25 mobility ramps to restaurants for outdoor dining, with 150 more on the way. The City is also redesigning City Hall to make it more accessible and inclusive for all. 

30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act:

  • The Mayor noted that this week marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In recognition of this milestone, tomorrow (Wednesday, July 22) at 1 p.m., the City is holding a virtual rally. 

    • It’s co-hosted by the Boston Center for Independent Living and the City’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities, led by Commissioner Kristen McCosh. 

  • The theme of the event is Equity, Diversity, Inclusion. It’s focused on ending job discrimination, increasing access to public buildings, and permanent housing— things that the City of Boston continues to believe and invest in.

  • The Mayor said that the disability community has been hit hard by the pandemic, and we’ve seen how disability, health inequities, and systemic racism work together to create deep injustices in quality of life, basic wellbeing, and fundamental rights. This year, the City is focused on the progress that lies ahead, more than on looking back at how far we’ve come.

Addressing weekend violence:

  • The Mayor addressed the violence that occurred this past weekend. Among other incidents, a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old lost their lives to an act of gun violence. In addition, an 18-year-old is in critical condition after another incident. The Police Department is asking for the public’s help in each of these investigations. 

  • The Mayor made it clear that violence of any kind is unacceptable in our communities, and that when it involves young people as victims, it’s especially devastating. 

  • The City is focusing on the most highly impacted communities—on an ongoing basis, and in response to specific incidents. This is a coordinated strategy, that  brings together the City’s Health and Human Services cabinet; Office of Public Safety; the SOAR Team street workers at BCYF; the Neighborhood Trauma Teams in the Boston Public Health Commission; the Police Department and the Schools—as well as the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, state agencies, hospitals, and countless community partners like the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute and ROCA Boston. 

    • All these partners are working together around the clock to reach young people and adults who are at risk and offer them pathways to safety and opportunity. 

  • The Mayor wants parents, grandparents, and guardians to know that there is help available if they are concerned about a young person in their lives. They can reach out for services, without fear of judgment or punishment, to the Neighborhood Trauma Teams or the Office of Public Safety. 

Addressing violence against protestors across the country:

  • The Mayor closed his press conference by addressing an issue that is deeply troubling to Bostonians and Americans everywhere. He referenced footage of unidentified federal officers aggressively detaining protestors in Portland, Oregon. The president has said he’s bringing that strategy to Chicago and other cities. 

  • The Mayor expressed his support for Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland and Mayor Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, who have made it clear that these federal actions were not needed or wanted. While there is no information about Boston being targeted, the Mayor made it clear that it is not welcome in Boston. He said it’s being done with no communication with local officials and no regard for the rights or safety of protestors, and appears to be needlessly escalating situations.

  • Today the Mayor signed onto a letter with Mayor Wheeler, Mayor Lightfoot, and other mayors, asking the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to withdraw these forces and end this strategy immediately. They are also sending a letter to Congress asking for public hearings on this issue, and language in funding legislation that would stop taxpayer dollars being used for this purpose.

  • The Mayor said the following:

In Boston, we support the movement for racial justice. We’ve built trust and solidarity with those who are demonstrating. Boston’s demonstrations, with very few exceptions, have been peaceful. The people out marching are calling for the most fundamental rights our country was founded on. And the Boston Police Department has preserved public safety while protecting the rights of free speech and freedom of movement. Unfortunately, this seems to be another situation where it is the president who doesn’t understand or believe in those rights. That’s an unfortunate situation in the United States of America. But we will continue to live by our values of inclusion and respect here in Boston. And I will stand with my colleagues around the 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.