8.7 min readBy Published On: February 11th, 2021Categories: News0 Comments on Recap of Mayor Walsh’s Press Briefing from February 10th

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Wednesday, February 10.

Comments on Tuesday’s snowstorm:

  • The Mayor began by thanking everyone who helped out during Sunday and Tuesday’s snowstorms, including our Public Works and Transportation teams, all our first responders, and 3-1-1 call takers. He also thanked residents who shoveled their sidewalks, helped clear crosswalks and fire hydrants, and checked on their neighbors.

  • He said that the City is prepared for any winter storms that come our way, and will continue to keep roads clear and make sure residents have the information they need to stay safe.

Latest COVID numbers:

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts today reported 1,920 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 521,045, and 82 new deaths bringing the total to 14,903.

  • The City of Boston today reported 233 new confirmed cases for a total of 55,637, and 8 new deaths for a total of 1,204.

The latest complete data we have is for the week ending February 4:

  • An average of 4,111 people were tested each day. That’s down by about 16% from the week before and does not include college testing.

  • The average number of positive tests recorded each day was 239. That’s down by about 31% from the week before.

  • Our current community positivity rate was 5%. That’s down from 6.2% the week before.

Updated Statewide capacity limits:

  • Last week, Governor Baker announced that the State would increase capacity restrictions from 25% to 40% for the businesses that are allowed to be open in Phase 3 Step 1. Those changes took effect Monday morning.

  • The Mayor said that the City of Boston is aligning with the State on these capacity restrictions. The City and the State are now currently in Phase 3, Step 1 of reopening. The limit on gatherings remains at 25 people outdoors, and 10 people indoors. This applies to both public and private spaces.

  • The Mayor encouraged residents and business owners to visit Mass.gov/reopening for a more detailed list, as well as industry-specific guidance.

Restaurant safety enforcement:

  • The Mayor said that the improvement we’ve seen in our city and State numbers is encouraging, and means the measures we’ve taken are making a difference. It does not, however, mean that anyone should let their guards down. Instead, everyone must do their part to keep the numbers going down so that certain activities can stay open, safely.

  • The Mayor said that throughout this crisis, Boston has taken a cautious approach. We only move forward if the public health data says that it’s safe to do so, and the City has been enforcing safety protocols.

  • He said that most restaurants in Boston have been doing a great job, and that he thanks them for that, but that the City is also taking swift action when establishments do not meet safety protocols.

  • The Inspectional Services Department continues to work with Boston Police, Boston Fire, the Licensing Board, and Boston Public Health Commission on enforcement. They are in constant contact with our business owners to make sure they understand the regulations. They’re providing restaurants with the tools they need to get up to code. These departments work together to investigate and address violations. They are out in our neighborhoods, doing random spot checks every week, and they ramped up these efforts on Superbowl Sunday.

  • If residents have concerns about a property, they can call 3-1-1 or the BPD’s party line at 617-343-5500.

  • The Licensing Board has instituted a weekly standing emergency hearing on Mondays to address any violations that come up over the weekend. Those hearings have resulted in immediate closures, when necessary.

  • City agencies responded to about 2,500 complaints in 2020. Most were dealt with immediately, and all of them were dealt with within 24 hours.

  • For example, this past Friday night, the City got a call from a patron who had dined at a restaurant that was not adhering to capacity restrictions. That same night, BPD conducted an inspection and confirmed that there was a violation. By Monday morning, that Licensee went before the Licensing Board, and had their license suspended.

  • The Mayor said, “Nobody wants to shut restaurants down. We’re doing everything we can to help local businesses with grants, helping them procure PPE, and loosening restrictions for things like outdoor dining. But the health and safety of our residents always comes first. We will continue to take swift action whenever there’s a violation. Again, I thank the vast majority of restaurants for doing a great job under difficult circumstances.”

  • The Mayor also reminded restaurant-goers that they need to do their part, as well. He said it’s great that many people want to support their local institutions during these hard times, but he needs everyone who’s supporting their local businesses to do it safely. If you’re indoor dining, only go with people in your bubble. Keep your mask on when you’re not eating. And don’t mingle with other tables.

  • The Mayor cautioned everyone to be especially careful if you go out for Valentine’s Day this coming weekend.

Update on COVID-19 testing:

  • The Mayor said that the City continues to make COVID-19 testing widely available. We have over 30 testing sites including mobile sites that are free and open to all, regardless of symptoms. This week they are:

    • In Jamaica Plain, at the Anna Cole Community Center. This is a walk-up site and no appointment or registration are required.

    • In Hyde Park, at Boston Renaissance Charter School. This is a drive-thru only site and you must make an appointment.

    • In Dorchester, at the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Grove Hall. This is a walk-up site with on-site registration.

  • The Mayor also reminded residents that The Strand Theater in Upham’s Corner in Dorchester is now operating as a testing site. Testing is available by walk-up only Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Testing is available to anyone regardless of symptoms and insurance. No registration is required.

  • The Mayor noted that he sees an opportunity to increase capacity at this site, and that the City will be looking for ways to work with our community partners to offer more tests at The Strand moving forward.

  • For more information about all testing sites in the City of Boston, visit Boston.gov or call 3-1-1.

  • The Mayor said that testing remains critical, even as the vaccine becomes available to more groups.

Update on vaccines:

  • The Mayor said that the City continues to work with the State on the vaccine rollout. Right now, we are in the beginning of Phase 2 of vaccinations. People ages 75 and older are eligible to get the vaccine, as well as everyone who was eligible in Phase 1. The full schedule is available at Mass.gov/CovidVaccine.

  • Several vaccination sites are up and running in the City of Boston. They include the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, Fenway Park, multiple sites operated by Community Health Centers, and 5 pharmacy locations. By the end of the week there will be 8 pharmacy locations. More information about sites in Boston is available at Mass.gov/CovidVaccine.

  • The Mayor said that the vaccine is one of the best tools we have to stop the spread of this virus and return to normal, but that it will only be effective if people have access to it. He said: “We need to increase vaccine access in the communities that have been hit hardest by COVID-19 and the economic fallout. We need to make sure that people of color have access to it. We need to make sure that low-income and immigrant communities have access to it. We need to think about the barriers that stand in people’s way like lack of transportation options, language barriers, or inability to take time off work.”

  • That’s why, he said, the City is pushing for greater access, and doing what we can to make sure that this process is equitable. Last week we held 20% of the vaccination appointments at the Reggie Lewis Center vaccination site for outreach to organizations serving communities of color and other vulnerable populations. We’ve increased that to 40% for this week and next week.

  • The Mayor said that ultimately, the State runs vaccine distribution, but we’re continuing to advocate on behalf of Boston residents, and we’re helping the State increase equity in this process.

  • The City is also stepping in to help people navigate the registration system, recognizing that many people are having difficulty navigating the State’s website and securing appointments. Individuals 75 and older who are having trouble with the site are encouraged to call 3-1-1 to get connected to the City’s Age Strong Commission. They can help answer questions and navigate options. The State also has a new 2-1-1 Mass Vaccine Scheduling Resource line for older adults who can’t access the website. Translators are available.

  • The Mayor said that he knows the State is working to remedy the issues people are facing securing appointments, and that he hopes and expects that the process will speed up and that more appointments will become available. He encouraged people in eligible groups to keep checking Mass.gov/CovidVaccine and register as soon as you are able.

  • The Mayor shared that this coming Saturday, February 13th, there will be a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for veterans at the Dorchester VFW Post 1018 on Morton Street. It is open to veterans who are 65 and older, who are enrolled in VA Healthcare. Designated caregivers enrolled in the VA Caregiver Support Program are also eligible. It’s open between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and it’s first come, first served. Those who attend this clinic will have their second dose scheduled for March 13. More information is available at Boston.VA.gov.

  • The Mayor thanked the membership at VFW Post 1018 for the use of their post. He also thanked the team at the VA Boston Healthcare System for bringing the vaccine to our veterans in their communities, saying that the City looks forward to the continued partnership between the City and the VA.

  • The Mayor said that the City is going to keep making resources available to people who need them, and will keep focusing on equity and breaking down barriers that people are facing. He thanked all of the City’s partners in this work, and the people of Boston for your continued resilience.

  • He then invited Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez to provide additional public health update

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