9.2 min readBy Published On: December 2nd, 2020Categories: News0 Comments on Recap of Mayor Walsh’s Press Briefing from 12/1

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Tuesday, December 1, 2020.

COVID-19 cases and testing data:  

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts on Tuesday reported 2,845 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 221,174 cases. The state reported 30 new deaths, for a total of 10,542 people who have passed away due to COVID-19.

  • The City of Boston on Tuesday reported 407 new cases, for a total of 27,635 cases. The City reported no new deaths, leaving a total of 919. 

  • For the week ending on November 23: 

    • An average of 4,860 Bostonians got tested each day, up from 4,200 the week before. That number does not include college testing, but it does reflect the increased demand for testing leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.

    • The average number of daily positive tests was 183, down from 252 the previous week. 

    • Boston’s current community positivity rate was 3.4%, down from 5.4%. 

    • The positive rate went down in every neighborhood of the city. No neighborhood had positivity over 8%, but Dorchester, East Boston, and Hyde Park were over 5%. 

  • The Mayor noted that in the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, our numbers went in the right direction. But, we expect to see an increase when the impact of Thanksgiving activity makes it into the testing data. He said the City will be monitoring that data closely as it comes in.

  • In the meantime, we all have to do everything we can to prevent the virus from spreading, by taking our collective and individual precautions as seriously as ever. 

Adding another free testing site:

  • The Mayor urged anyone who traveled for Thanksgiving, or who was in a gathering larger than their household, to get tested as soon as possible. 

  • Currently, we have over 30 testing sites in Boston. You can find them listed and mapped at boston.gov/coronavirus, or you can call 311. 

  • The City continues to expand testing capacity, especially for communities with the highest rates of infection. Our mobile testing sites are free and open to anyone, regardless of whether you have COVID symptoms or not. This week they are in Central Square Park in East Boston and Washington Park Mall in Roxbury. Both of these mobile testing sites will be available until Saturday, December 5. 

  • The Mayor announced a third mobile testing site, operating through Thursday, December 3 in Jamaica Plain, at Anna Cole Community Center, 10 Lamartine St. Ext. It is open from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day, to provide more access to people who are at work during the day. The Mayor also asked employers to be flexible and provide time for employees to get tested during their workday.

Continuing to provide free food resources citywide: 

  • The Mayor noted that there have been reports from around the country about food pantries struggling to keep up with demand. He assured Bostonians that our food access system is resilient and going strong, and he thanked the staff and volunteers who have worked hard throughout the pandemic to keep them open.

  • He noted that the City is in constant communication with key partners like the Greater Boston Food Bank, and we provide additional support through the Boston Resiliency Fund to fill gaps. 

  • Currently there are 58 active youth meal sites in Boston. You can pick up multiple meals at one location for anyone 18 and under. No ID is necessary and children do not need to be present. These sites will remain open through the winter.  

  • These locations include 26 Boston Public Schools “super-sites,” where you can pick up three or five days of meals in one trip for each child. The City is working on making sure those sites can provide groceries as well as packaged meals. 

  • In addition, families of Boston school students are entitled to a Pandemic EBT card, issued by the state, for buying food and groceries. The Mayor reminded families who have used their card already to hold onto it, as we expect more funds will be added in the coming months. 

  • We also have the Double Up Food Bucks program, which provides 50% off produce bought with SNAP benefits at local markets. The Mayor asked store owners who would like to participate to contact our Office of Food Access by emailing [email protected]

  • For information on all our food access resources, as well as a map of meal sites, visit boston.gov/Food

Launching a new financial support program: 

  • The Mayor noted that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on many families and households, especially in communities of color, and that the City is committed to helping those in need through resources like the Rental Relief Fund

  • He also announced a new resource to help people deal with the economic stress brought on by the pandemic, called Financial Navigators

  • The program provides a free, half-hour phone consultation with Navigators who are trained to help you get access to the relief and services you need. They can also help untangle some of the financial chaos people are facing, and help make a plan for moving forward. 

  • You can access the Financial Navigators by completing a form at ofe.boston.gov, our Office of Financial Empowerment. You can also call 617-356-8229 to sign up for help, or call 311 and ask about our Financial Navigators program. In addition to English, Financial Navigators are able to help in Haitian Creole, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Securing AAA bond ratings for continued investment in Boston’s neighborhoods:

  • The Mayor shared good news about how we are managing City finances during this challenging time. Last week, both of our credit rating agencies assigned the City of Boston perfect, AAA bond ratings, with a stable outlook moving forward. 

  • AAA bond ratings mean that because we have taken good care of our finances, our credit is trusted as the best in its class, we can get the lowest borrowing costs, and we can invest more in our neighborhoods than ever before. 

  • 2014 was the first time Boston received perfect ratings from both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. By growing our economy and carefully managing your tax money, we held onto these perfect bond ratings every year since then. 

  • This year, in a much tougher economy, we have maintained this strong financial foundation. In fact, we were named in the National Tax Journal and the New York Times as the City best prepared to withstand the COVID-19 recession. 

  • The Mayor called this an outstanding achievement, and thanked the City’s Chief of Administration & Finance Emme Handy, Budget Director Justin Sterrit, Head of Treasury Drew Smith, and their teams.

  • The Mayor said that for residents, this means we will be able to invest more resources in affordable housing; in climate resilience, open space, and parks; in new schools and neighborhood libraries; in safe streets and bus and bike lanes —  in all the infrastructure that supports our quality of life and helps families build their dreams in Boston. 

  • This year, the City responded to the immediate and urgent needs of our residents and, at the same time, has done the work necessary to build a resilient and equitable recovery. 

  • For example, our upcoming bond sale will feature Boston’s first-ever series of Green Bonds and first-ever series of Social Bonds. The Green Bonds will support energy efficiency investments in City buildings and climate adaptations in our public spaces, while the Social Bonds will support affordable housing at multiple sites across the City. 

Helping those in need on Giving Tuesday:

  • The Mayor noted that the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is known as Giving Tuesday, an opportunity to make charitable contributions and give back to your community. This year, he said, the needs in our communities are greater than they have been in a long time. At the same time, the opportunities to help meet those needs are more numerous than ever as well.

  • He said that the work done by Boston Resiliency Fund grantees has shown us the vital role played by local nonprofits and community organizations in helping neighbors in need. Since April, the Resiliency Fund has delivered over $29 million to 350 diverse nonprofits that provide residents with COVID testing, food, gift cards, home learning technology, and more.  

  • But there is much more work to be done, and the Mayor encouraged both individuals and companies to help the local nonprofits that are doing this work.

  • The Mayor noted that the Holiday season is especially tough for many families. This year, more families are struggling just to meet their basic needs like food and rent, so buying toys and gifts is going to be beyond the reach of many. 

  • That’s why one of our most meaningful partners at this time of year is Toys for Tots, the annual toy drive led by the U.S. Marine Corps. We work with Toys for Tots because we don’t want any child or family to be left out of the holiday joy.  

  • This year, we can’t have the in-person toy drives we usually have, so we all need to work harder than ever to make sure we reach every child and family. We’re going to have locations across the city where you can drop off new, unwrapped toys, including at many city buildings. 

  • The Mayor concluded: 

“It’s a good time to give, if you can, because doing something for others is often the best way to deal with stressful times. We are all feeling some degree of stress these days. It’s December 1. We are nine months into a pandemic. We have the winter ahead of us. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but there’s a lot of work to do to get there. I know Boston can do it, because we’re a strong city and a compassionate city. We support each other, we stand with each other, we help each other, we lift each other up when we fall down. 

I had the opportunity on Thanksgiving to think about where we are, and where I am, thinking about this past year. And I’m extremely grateful for people who help the most vulnerable in our city. I’m grateful for people who set up food pantries. I’m grateful for the first responders. I’m grateful for the nurses and doctors. I’m grateful for the janitorial staff who keep our hospitals and buildings clean. I’m grateful for the press, for the communication you’ve given people over the last nine months to keep them safe. I’m grateful for the teams here at City Hall, the staff who’ve done amazing work. That gratitude, we have to keep that in our heart. So when you’re down, you’ve got to remember all the acts of kindness people have shown over the last nine months. We are getting there. We need to continue to support and rally around each other. That’s how we will get through this pandemic. So I just ask everyone to dig deep, and make sure those who are in need get help, and feel the love in our community over the holidays and for as long as it takes.”

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