8.1 min readBy Published On: December 31st, 2020Categories: News0 Comments on Recap of Mayor Walsh’s press briefing from 12/30

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Wednesday, December 30, 2020.

COVID-19 cases and testing data:

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Wednesday) reported 6,135 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 352,558 cases. The state reported 118 new deaths, for a total of 12,076 people who have passed away due to COVID-19.

  • Also: the City of Boston reported 569 new cases, for a total of 39,751 cases. The City reported 6 new deaths, bringing the total to 1,008.

  • The Mayor noted that on Tuesday, December 29, the City of Boston surpassed 1,000 deaths from COVID. He said that every number represents a person, with family and friends who are grieving their loss and missing them every day. His prayers are with everyone who has lost a loved one or continues to suffer from this terrible virus.

  • He acknowledged we are all tired of living with the virus, and that it’s tempting to let our guards down sometimes. But the virus is still with us, and will be in 2021.

  • In Boston, we remain concerned about an increase in COVID activity following the holidays. Our hospital numbers are higher than we’d like them to be. We have more people hospitalized right now due to COVID than we’ve had since early June.

  • We all have a role to play in protecting each other, especially our most vulnerable, and helping to prevent further loss. That means staying vigilant — and continuing to follow the public health guidance.

Updates on mobile testing sites:

  • We continue to encourage everyone to get tested — especially if you were traveling last week for the holiday. There are more than 30 testing sites in the City of Boston, including mobile testing sites which are free and open to all, regardless of symptoms.

  • All mobile testing sites will be closed on New Year’s Day, January 1 and will resume their regular schedules afterward. To learn more about these, or any of our testing sites, go to boston.gov/coronavirus or call 3-1-1.

Update on vaccines:

  • The City continues to be in communication with healthcare partners as the federal and state governments work on distribution.

  • This week, Boston EMT’s began getting vaccinated. Since day one of this crisis, they have been on the frontlines, risking their own health for the health and wellbeing of all Boston residents. Our EMS providers have encountered more than 3,500 COVID-positive patients in Boston.

  • The Mayor said this is a proud moment for our City, and thanked Boston Medical Center for including our EMTs and paramedics in their vaccination efforts.

  • He also noted that vaccine distribution to long term care facilities began this week, and that this will help protect our most vulnerable people, in our most vulnerable settings.

  • He said the City follows the lead of the State, who put together a vaccine distribution schedule that prioritizes our most at-risk residents. You can visit the State’s website at Mass.gov to see the full schedule.

  • He encourages everyone to get the vaccine, when your time comes. He says it’s safe, it’s free, and it’s the best way you can protect yourself and those around you. It’s how we can help get life back to normal sooner — and get back to doing all the things and seeing the people we love.

Calls for economic relief:

  • The Mayor said that many families and individuals are going to continue facing a serious struggle in 2021, with unemployment, lost income, and lost business revenue.

  • While it’s good news that unemployment benefits will continue into at least March of 2021 through the COVID-19 relief package passed last week — more support is needed.

  • He is again calling on Washington to take bold action and bring more relief to the American people.

  • He also continues to call on the State Legislature to pass the economic development bond bill and provide relief to small businesses, restaurants, and their employees at this critical time. The Mayor recently led a coalition of Massachusetts municipal leaders in calling for small business relief.

Extension of BHA Moratorium:

  • The Boston Housing Authority is extending its moratorium on non-essential evictions through the end of February. This will continue to protect tens of thousands of the lowest-income residents all across the city.

  • The Mayor thanked Kate Bennett, the Administrator of the Boston Housing Authority, and her team for their leadership. He also noted that the BHA was one of the first major housing providers to halt evictions, this past March.

  • He said that as our City continues to deal with a public health and economic crisis, nobody should be worried about losing their home. Boston continues to provide support to renters and property owners who may be struggling due to income loss.

Boston Resiliency Fund:

  • The Mayor announced the latest funding round of the Boston Resiliency Fund, which is continuing to support seniors and families.

  • This week we’re distributing $780,000 to 39 organizations in Boston who increase food and healthcare access, support individuals facing homelessness, and help seniors.

  • To date, the Boston Resiliency Fund has distributed over $30 million to over 360 organizations. You can learn more about this work at Boston.gov/ResiliencyGrantees.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve safely:

  • The Mayor noted that tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, and he thinks he speaks for everyone when he says we’re glad 2020 is finally coming to a close. He said we usually have a press conference to talk about New Year’s Eve safety. Our guidance looks different this year, but it’s more important than ever.

  • He made it clear that there should be no New Year’s Eve parties this year. That includes small gatherings, which have been identified as a major source of viral transmission. He said, “You may think your bubble is small, but it’s bigger than you think. When you’re with people you don’t live with, you are hanging out with everyone they are hanging out with, too.”

  • He asked those who are thinking of having a party or attending one to rethink those plans, stay home, and consider making these connections virtually.

  • He noted that, this year, First Night Boston is moving entirely to a virtual format and will be streaming performances throughout the night. Go to FirstNightBoston.org to see the schedule and use the hashtag “Together21” to get involved.

  • The Mayor also asked people to be careful with alcohol and marijuana. Intoxication can lower people’s inhibitions, and cause them to forget masks or social distancing protocols. Excessive drinking can also lead to violence.

  • He said our Boston Police Department will be out patrolling the neighborhoods, as they do every year. He then asked Commissioner Gross to speak more about public safety precautions for New Year’s Eve.

  • In addition to discouraging parties, the Mayor reminded everyone:

    • You should celebrate only with the people you live with.

    • You should not travel. Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.

    • If you are planning on gathering with family outside your household or traveling, we urge extreme caution.

    • In Boston, indoor gatherings should be limited to 10 people or fewer, and there are no exceptions for holidays.

    • And everyone should be wearing masks when they are not eating or drinking, and staying six feet apart as much as possible.

  • He also noted that getting tested does not protect you from infection. You cannot “test your way in or out” of a safe holiday gathering, and it will still be a higher risk activity. He asks that you refrain from engaging in this activity if possible. But as you would whenever you participate in any kind of gathering, you should get tested before and after.

End of year reflection:

The Mayor closed his remarks with the following message of gratitude to the people of Boston.

“2020 has been one of the most challenging years we’ve ever seen. It has been a year we will never forget. But through it all, and despite the hardships, Boston has grown stronger and more united. As we head into 2021, and into a brighter future, let’s bring that same spirit and resilience with us.

I want to close by thanking everyone who has played a role in our response and recovery. Every nurse, doctor, and healthcare worker who pulled long hours. Every public health worker who has been on the frontlines of this crisis, 24/7. Every first responder who continued to keep our communities safe and respond to emergencies. Every small business owner and employee who adapted their business to stay open. Every city worker who kept our services running, and every essential worker, in every part of our workforce. Every student, teacher, and parent who persevered through an uncertain academic year. Every shelter worker who kept our shelters open as safe options for our homeless community. Every donor to the Boston Resiliency Fund or another COVID-19 relief fund, to make sure people’s immediate needs were met. And every nonprofit and partner who made sure those resources were getting to the people who needed it most. Every resident who made a sacrifice — both big and small — to keep others safe.

I’ve watched our City come together in extraordinary ways. And from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. I say this a lot, but I mean it every time: I am proud to be the Mayor of the greatest city in the world. I’m looking forward to seeing better days with all of you, in 2021. I want to wish everyone a healthy, safe, and happy New Year.”

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