8.4 min readBy Published On: November 13th, 2020Categories: News0 Comments on Recap of Mayor Walsh’s Press Briefing from 11/12

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Thursday, November 12, 2020.

COVID-19 cases and testing data:

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts on Thursday reported 2,482 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 174,953 cases. The state reported 21 new deaths, for a total of 10,015 people who have passed away due to COVID-19.

  • The City of Boston on Thursday reported 355 new cases, for a total of 23,196. The City reported no new deaths, leaving the total at 884.

  • For the week ending on Friday, November 6:

    • An average of 2,500 Bostonians got tested each day, a large increase over 1,780 the week before. The Mayor said our “Get the Test Boston” campaign is having an impact, and he thanked people for getting tested. It means we’ll be able to respond with more accuracy and effectiveness to where the virus is spreading and how it is spreading.

    • In that week Boston averaged 180 daily new positive tests per day, up from 128 the week before. Our positive test rate stayed at 7.2%.

    • The neighborhoods with the highest positive rates remain Dorchester, Mattapan, and East Boston. Roxbury and Roslindale went over 10% last week. And East Boston is again a concern, as its rate jumped up to over 16%.

  • The Mayor said that the City’s public health experts are developing new metrics that we will be able to share next week. This epidemic evolves and its impact on our neighborhoods evolves, he said, so we need to evolve the ways we monitor its activity, and how we understand all the complexities of COVID spread in the community.

  • The Mayor encouraged people to get tested, which helps strengthen our data and protect our communities. We have over 30 testing sites in the City of Boston, and we operate two mobile testing sites that are free and open to anyone, whether they have symptoms or not. This week through Saturday they are in East Boston at Central Square Park; and in Mattapan at Jubilee Christian Church on Blue Hill Avenue. You have to call ahead to pre-register. Those numbers and information about all the testing sites are at boston.gov/coronavirus, or you can call 311.

  • The Mayor noted that the large gatherings which occurred last week around the presidential election were peaceful, and that the vast majority of attendees wore masks, for which he thanked them. He added that anyone who attended such a gathering should nevertheless make it a priority to get tested for COVID-19.

  • He noted that as winter approaches and our numbers go up, we are in a critical moment in the course of the pandemic, and he urged everyone to follow the state and city guidelines and take all the precautions necessary to slow the spread of the virus.

Opposing proposed service cuts to the MBTA:

  • The Mayor noted that the City is working hard to turn this trend around, keep our city safe, and build back our economy in a way that is healthy, strong, and equitable. We’ve seen since the beginning that transportation is essential to each of those goals, which is why we took the opportunity to expand our healthy and equitable travel options by investing in new bike and bus lanes.

  • He expressed disappointment at the cuts to MBTA service that were proposed this week. He said these cuts would undermine our COVID response, reduce disability access, delay our climate change goals, and make it harder for people to get to and from work, which is an equity issue and hurts our economic recovery efforts.

  • He acknowledged the MBTA’s budget gap, but said every level of government is facing a budget gap, and it is incumbent on leaders to dig deep, find revenue, and support our recovery.

  • He said he will be advocating from now until this vote takes place, to protect the health, the equity, and the future of Boston’s communities.

Planning in-person learning for students with complex needs:

  • The Mayor noted that, as of today, the Boston Public Schools remain fully remote and that health and equity remain our priorities for school reopening.

  • Last Friday, the state released new guidance on schools, and BPS is reviewing that guidance. We will continue to take a cautious approach, prioritizing the safety of our students, families, teachers, and staff in all our school communities.

  • In addition, he said, we must prioritize the wellbeing of our highest needs students. These are children and young people who need the services they get in school to be fully healthy and safe, and that’s why we are focused on getting them safely back into their schools.

  • BPS has been working hard to achieve this goal, in conversation with the families of high-need students. We’ve also been in continuous talks with our teachers, the vast majority of whom want to be in the classroom with their students.

  • We are ready to support safe, in-person learning in the schools that serve students with complex disabilities–the Horace Mann, the Carter, the McKinley schools, and the Henderson. BPS has taken extra steps to address health and safety concerns in these schools, including by purchasing free-standing air filter units for these schools.

  • The Mayor said we are hopeful that we can move forward with this plan starting on Monday, November 16, and we will work with our public health experts, our families, and our teachers, to make sure this plan is done safely and done right for our students.

  • For more information, visit bostonpublicschools/reopening.

Implementing key recommendations of the Police Reform Task Force:

  • The Mayor was joined at the press conference by members of our Police Reform Task Force, to announce new steps taken to implement their recommendations, on the 30-day anniversary of their submission.

  • The goal, he said, is to sustain the urgency felt this summer, achieve deep and meaningful change in Boston, and create a national model for breaking down systemic racism collaboratively, with the community, in a way that improves public safety for all.

  • The Mayor noted that the Task Force is made up of leaders and advocates who have worked on these issues for years. They have helped to ensure that Boston’s Black communities are leading this change, through an extensive public input process. The result is a set of recommendations that are the collective expression of these residents as they call for lasting, systemic change.

  • The Mayor recounted the steps already taken:

    • We filed a Home Rule Petition to give Boston high school graduates a preference in police hiring, which will increase diversity and lead to more officers drawn from the communities they are serving. There is a hearing scheduled for December 3, and the Mayor asked the Council to act swiftly, so we can advocate together for this Petition before the State Legislature at the start of its new session in January.

    • The Mayor directed the City’s Chief of Equity and other City leaders to work with the Police Department on updating their policies through an equity lens, as well as create a Diversity and Inclusion Unit in the Department. That conversation is moving forward.

    • The Administration created a job description for the Executive Director of the proposed Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, so we can be ready to move this new system forward as soon as it is approved. That job will be posted on Monday, November 16 for any interested Boston resident to apply.

  • The Mayor then announced today’s new steps:

  • The Mayor signed an Executive Order to create a Civilian Review Board. It is made up of nine community members, nominated by both the Mayor’s Office and City Council. They will be empowered to review complaints and recommend actions; review police policies and provide public input; publish reports on the BPD’s progress; and more.

  • The Mayor signed an Executive Order to turn what was our CO-OP board into a stronger Internal Affairs Oversight Panel. This panel will have the power to review all completed Internal Affairs cases, not subject to the 20 percent limit on the previous board. It will also be able to review the policies and procedures of BPD’s Internal Affairs, and engage with the community about their impact.

  • The Mayor will file an ordinance with the City Council next week that would create the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, or OPAT. The OPAT provides intake services, research, and administrative support to the Civilian Review Board and the Internal Affairs Oversight Panel. And the OPAT Commission will have full subpoena power to investigate misconduct.

  • The Mayor said that this structure creates a single point of public access to a new gold standard in police accountability and community oversight, and it also provides more predictability and structure for our police officers.

  • He expressed eagerness to work with the City Council on achieving this historic change for our city, and he thanked the members of the Task Force, especially the members of the subcommittee on the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency. He invited NAACP Boston Branch President Tanisha Sullivan to offer remarks.

Honoring Veterans:

  • The Mayor discussed the various activities he participated in on Veterans Day, including dedicating a new Hero Square in Brighton, raising awareness for Home Base, and doing a virtual version of Operation Thank-a-Vet by calling veterans to say thank you and provide wellness checks.

  • He closed with the following reflection:

“We’re talking a lot about democracy these days — our belief in democracy and the work it takes to protect it. Let’s never forget who makes our democracy possible: our veterans. … Repaying the debt we owe them is work we must do every day, all year round, in small business opportunities, educational opportunities, housing opportunities, and everything we do as a city. There are close to 20,000 veterans living in Boston, roughly 2.8 percent of our population. They are diverse in age, in race, in gender, and they enrich every neighborhood as leaders and mentors. I want to thank the many veterans who work in this Administration, including Veterans Services Commissioner Rob Santiago, and I want to thank all the veterans and their families who live in the City of Boston.”

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