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Recap of Mayor Walsh’s COVID-19 Press Briefing from May 21st

Did you miss the mayor’s presser on Thursday? Don’t worry! Here’s a recap of  Mayor Walsh’s COVID-19 press briefing on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

Case numbers:

  • As of Wednesday, May 20, in Massachusetts: 88,970 cases and 6,066 deaths. 

  • As of Thursday, May 21, in Boston: 12,239 cases, 599 deaths, and 5,627 recoveries.

Importance of physical distancing during Phase 1 of the State’s reopening plan:

  • Phase 1 of the State’s reopening plan began this week and some of the City’s precautions go further than the State’s. For more information about Boston’s approach to Phase 1 of reopening, go to Boston.gov/reopening.  

  • The Mayor issued a reminder that the Statewide “Safer at Home” advisory is in effect, which directs residents to continue staying home except for healthcare, essential errands, and other activities permitted by Phase 1 guidelines. All residents should remain vigilant and continue physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and wearing face coverings whenever they leave home and are around other people.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

  • The City has been working to make sure frontline employees have PPE, and help as many essential organizations as possible, including nursing homes and long-term care facilities, especially those with limited resources.

  • With Phase 1 of the State’s reopening plan beginning, more workers will need these items. For small businesses, it’s an issue of both public health and economic equity. The Mayor stated that he wants to make sure that every worker has access to the equipment they need to stay safe, and that no small businesses get shut out of reopening because they don’t have supply chain connections. 

  • The City is launching a resource to help at boston.gov/business-ppe. It has guidance on what type of PPE businesses and organizations need, how to procure it and avoid scams, and lists of trusted vendors. 

  • The Mayor stressed that it is the responsibility of the employer to provide protective gear for all of their workers, but he hopes that this City resource will help them meet this responsibility and keep their workers and customers safe.

New grants awarded through the Small Business Fund:

  • The City of Boston’s Small Business Relief Fund has now given out nearly $4 million in grants to over 1,100 small businesses in every neighborhood across the City of Boston. These are grants, not loans, so they don’t create debt. 

  • They are from the industries most heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including restaurants, hair salons and barbershops, arts and recreation facilities, retail stores, childcare and home care providers, and more.

  • 95% of these businesses have 15 or fewer employees, 52% are owned by people of color, 49% are women-owned, and 46% are immigrant-owned.

Updates on meeting the demand for food:

  • As of Monday, the City of Boston and its partner organizations have distributed over 1 million meals to young people at 65 meal sites across Boston. 

    • The Boston Public Schools have distributed more than half of those meals. They have also delivered over 200,000 meals directly to the homes of students with special needs. 

    • The City has completed nearly 5,000 door-to-door grocery deliveries for people who have reached out in need. 50% are to seniors referred by the Age Strong Commission, and the City has increased Meals on Wheels deliveries by 40% as well. 

    • The Mayor thanked the many individuals and organizations that have played an integral role in this work, including the City’s Office of Food Access, the Boston Public Schools, the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, the Boston Housing Authority, the Greater Boston YMCA, the Greater Boston Food Bank, Jonathan Greeley and the BPDA, 160 volunteers at meal sites, and delivery drivers from the Boston Police Cadets and BCYF centers.

    • Information about food resources for all ages is available at boston.gov/covid19foodmap.

  • The Mayor discussed a new report by the Greater Boston Food Bank that shows that the number of households they served in April was up 69% compared to a year ago; and the number of children they served is up 81%. The Mayor reiterated the importance of investing in food security, and assured that the City will continue to focus on food access. So far, the Boston Resilience Fund has distributed more than $9 million in grants to local food providers, and the Fund will continue to focus on food access as a top priority area.

New grants awarded through the Boston Resiliency Fund:

  • The Mayor announced 19 new grantees, which will receive a total of $880,000. Consistent with the City’s equity focus, 58% of the organizations are led by a person of color and 58% are women-led organizations.  

  • These grants focus on helping seniors who are homebound, people experiencing homelessness, and building on some of the early food grants that were distributed in the past two months. 

  • The Mayor highlighted a few of the grantees:

    • The Chinese Golden Age Center will provide meals-on-wheels to seniors across the city.

    • Elevate Boston will continue delivering hot meals, groceries, toiletries, and PPE to thousands of families and seniors out of the Breakfast Spot in Roxbury. 

    • African Community Economic Development of New England (ACEDONE) will deliver meals to Muslim families in need, as they conclude the Ramadan month of fasting and prayer. (The City will also be supplying community care kits.) 

    • The Mass. Coalition for the Homeless, which will use a grant in its work with Procter & Gamble to supply hand sanitizer to every shelter in Boston. 

  • In total, the Boston Resiliency Fund has raised a total of $30.8 million from nearly 6,000 donations, and distributed $18.5 million to 200 organizations. To learn more, donate, or request grant funding, go to Boston.gov/BostonResiliencyFund.

Virtual Commencement Ceremony for the BPS Class of 2020:

  • The Mayor announced that on Saturday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m., a citywide graduation event will be broadcast for the Boston Public Schools on WCVB, Channel 5. Speakers will include Mayor Walsh, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius, and former US Education Secretary John King, Jr. 

  • The event will feature the voices and stories of BPS graduates, and will pay tribute to their journeys through the Boston Public Schools.

Memorial Day:

  • Monday, May 25 is Memorial Day. It recognizes the members of our Armed Forces who gave their lives in the service of our country, from the American Revolution up to the present day. 

  • The Mayor acknowledged that most of Boston’s long-standing Memorial Day traditions cannot go on as normal this year. The City is working with volunteers to make sure every veteran’s grave is marked by a U.S. flag, as they do all year round. He also encouraged residents to join him in participating in virtual Memorial Day events that will be happening on Monday and through the weekend. 

  • He also asked residents to show their appreciation for service members who have given the ultimate sacrifice by decorating the outside of their homes with flags and patriotic symbols. He suggested asking children and neighbors to get involved in a neighborhood show of support. 

  • Mayor Walsh concluded by thanking Boston’s entire military community, and reminded them that the City’s Office of Veterans Services remains fully operational and that veterans and their families can call 617-241-VETS (8387) or email veterans@boston.gov if they are in need of assistance or counseling. 

 

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Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Co-host of Caught Up, storyteller, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.