9.6 min readBy Published On: July 24th, 2020Categories: News0 Comments on Recap of Mayor Walsh’s Press Briefing from July 23rd

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Thursday, July 23, 2020.

Case numbers:

  • As of yesterday in Massachusetts: 114,320 cases and 8,468 deaths. These numbers include both confirmed and probable cases.

  • As of today in Boston: 13,924 cases, 723 deaths, and 10,007 recoveries.

Reminders on safety and moving forward in recovery:

  • The Mayor began his press conference with a reminder about the importance of consistency in our COVID precautions and working together to stay safe and keep moving forward in the City’s recovery.

  • He noted that the City’s seven-day average of daily new cases is down this week, as well as the seven-day average for the positive test rate. The seven-day average of new COVID hospital admissions is down as well. He thanked residents for the work they are doing, and encouraged them to keep it going.

  • With hot weather coming again this weekend, he reminded people to be smart about using parks and beaches. He pointed to the examples of crowded beaches, especially at M Street in South Boston, as well as house parties last weekend. If those keep happening, the City will get outbreaks of the virus, and restrictions may be imposed.

  • He reminded everyone what they must keep doing, to help prevent transmission and prevent another surge: wear a face covering whenever you are out; keep six feet of distance and avoid crowds; wash your hands frequently and clean your surfaces; and get tested if you are concerned.

Expanded testing access:

  • The Mayor reiterated Tuesday’s announcement of the City’s new mobile testing team. It started this week with a pop-up testing site at the Jackson Mann Community Center in Allston, and every two weeks it will move to another neighborhood.

  • He also reminded everyone about the City’s Latino outreach initiative, which was announced last week. The City is partnering with the Greater Boston Latino Network to increase testing and support in Latino communities.

    • This partnership builds on the work of the City’s COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force, which helped lead the City’s testing expansion in Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and East Boston.

  • The Mayor announced a new testing partnership with CVS Pharmacy. Starting tomorrow, July 24, CVS will be performing drive-thru testing at the pharmacy on Centre Street in West Roxbury. This will be the first testing site in the neighborhood of West Roxbury.

    • The City is working with CVS to bring testing over the next few weeks to pharmacies in other parts of the city — including Dorchester, Hyde Park, Roslindale, Allston, and Brighton.

    • The service will be run by online appointment at CVS.com, and results will be delivered through CVS’s Minute Clinic system.

    • To be eligible you must be 18 years or older and meet certain criteria, including: either COVID symptoms, an exposure, or presence at a large public gathering; or you live or work in long-term care, a group facility, or shelter. There are no out-of-pocket costs, whether you have insurance or not.

    • The Mayor thanked CVS and all their workers for making these services available to residents, and for keeping their stores open during the pandemic to provide medications and essential health products.

Update on Boston Public Schools:

  • The Mayor mentioned that Superintendent Brenda Cassellius and her team presented a draft plan at the School Committee last night, for a return to school this fall that would combine in-person and remote learning.

  • He said a great deal of research, dialogue, thought, and care went into this draft, and that the process of getting input and feedback continues.

  • He understands that families are anxious to see a final plan. He reminded everyone that it is important to take our time and get it right. Public health data guides these decisions, and the City continues to monitor that data and prioritize the health and safety of children, teachers, and staff.

  • He also said equity is a central concern to the reopening process. By September, children will have been out of school for nearly six months. The City has worked to get food, technology, and mental health support to every family and child who needs it.

  • The disruption brought on by this crisis increases existing gaps and inequities, and the City must consider what remote learning means for low-income students and students of color, who have fewer resources at home. The City also has to consider the supports that students with disabilities and students learning English need. The Mayor said the City is weighing all these needs and is committed to meeting them.

  • The Mayor asked families for their continued input, and continued patience, as the School Department works through all these factors.

Return of street sweeping:

  • Yesterday, the City announced that street sweeping enforcement will resume on Monday, August 10. The City will be ticketing cars on street cleaning days, but not towing them. Street cleaning normally runs from April 1 to Nov. 30, but the City suspended ticketing and towing to give people a break during the Stay at Home order and the early stages of reopening.

  • Starting this Monday, July 27, the City will be placing courtesy flyers, in ten different languages, on parked cars reminding residents of street sweeping. The City wants to give people a full two weeks, knowing people are out of the habit of moving their cars, to re-adjust.

  • Residents can sign up to get street cleaning alerts on their phone.

Update on small businesses supports:

  • The Mayor noted that the statewide eviction moratorium that the Governor extended to October 17 also applies to small businesses. He urges commercial landlords as well as residential landlords to be compassionate and flexible, to work with their tenants on solutions, like rent payment plans.

  • He said that the only way we will get through this difficult time for our City is to work together to recover and rebuild our economy. That’s why the City has dedicated more than $13.5 million to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

    • The Small Business Relief Fund has distributed $6.5 million to nearly 1,900 small businesses. 50% of those businesses are owned by people of color, and 47% are immigrant-owned.

    • The Reopen Boston Fund has distributed $1.7 million to more than 1,000 businesses for safety measures including PPE, partitions, and outdoor space.

  • The Mayor announced two new ways the City is supporting small businesses during COVID-19:

    • This week, the City is expanding Reopening fund eligibility to businesses with up to 25 employees. Before, it was limited to businesses with 15 employees or fewer.

    • The City is also opening the fund to businesses that may not have a brick and mortar location, but still have direct contact with customers and clients and do business in Boston. For more information, visit boston.com/reopening.

    • Also starting this week, the City is providing free posters for small businesses, in both print and digital formats, as well as in 10 languages, to help create more visibility for businesses.

Workshops on city contracting:

  • The Office of Economic Development will be hosting two upcoming workshops to help businesses gain a better understanding of the Request for Proposals document and the bidding process. The Mayor said the City is dedicated to increasing diversity in our vendors, and this is an important resource in that work. He encourages anyone that is interested in doing business with the City to sign up.

  • All workshops are free and open to the public, but require registration.

Responding to federal actions:

  • The Mayor concluded his press conference by stating his concern about federal actions, originating in the White House, that are harmful to cities like Boston.

  • He noted that the President released a memo this week seeking to cut some immigrants out of the Census population numbers, for redistricting purposes.

  • The Mayor said he will continue to promote the 2020 U.S. Census because that is how Boston gets fair representation in Congress and its fair share of federal resources.

  • He made it clear that the Constitution requires that every person living in the United States of America be counted, and that there are no exceptions for immigration status.

  • He said this memo is a political move to undercount and undermine communities that have large shares of immigrants, and said the following:

This president has gone out of his way to make sure cities and towns across America struggle to count everyone. It’s morally wrong and it’s unconstitutional. And I would remind the President that the United States is a nation built by large shares of immigrants. The United States would not exist without immigrants. And Boston is a city of immigrants, because Boston is a city of opportunity that is committed to making America’s ideals a reality. This proposal is unlikely to hold up in court, and I appreciate that leaders in Congress and the Massachusetts delegation have promised to fight it. We all need to stand up right now and say it is wrong. And I would say to any immigrant, including members of my own family: Don’t be intimated. Don’t surrender your power. 

  • He said the best way to fight back is to fill out the Census by going to my2020census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020. It can be done in 13 languages, it takes a few minutes to complete, and all the information is confidential. He also is asking people to encourage their family, neighbors, and friends to fill it out, to explain how important it is, and help them if necessary.

  • The Mayor also talked about the impending expiration of federal CARES Act unemployment benefits, and noted that if new forms of relief don’t arrive, many families and individuals are going to face a serious struggle. Cities will also struggle in their ability to provide the level of service and support that residents need right now. Boston has already made cuts to balance our budget, and is watching out for further revenue decline at both the state and local levels.

  • He is joining other mayors to call on the Senate to pass a new relief act. The HEROES Act was passed by the U.S. House in May and would provide stimulus and relief, as well as direct support for state and local budgets. He called on the Senate to pass a bill that similarly provides direct support for cities meeting residents’ needs, and said Congress needs to get this done before adjourning for the summer.

  • He also thanked the Massachusetts delegation for their leadership and clarity on what is needed, and for communicating with the City and understanding the situation Boston is facing.

  • The Mayor gave an overview of Boston’s ongoing efforts to meet local needs:

    • Over two million meals distributed; and now 97 meal sites open to every young person in our city.

    • Grants to over 2000 small businesses.

    • Rental relief to hundreds of households and an eviction moratorium protecting thousands more.

    • Expanded shelter space and over 20 affordable housing developments moving forward.

  • The City’s new unemployment numbers show thousands of people who are unemployed and having trouble getting re-employed. Those struggles hurt people of color disproportionately—an aspect of systemic racism that gets even worse during a recession.

  • The Mayor said these needs are still with us, and the virus is still with us. Without federal relief, families all across America and in Boston are going to be hanging on by a thread. He said this is a time for Congress to put politics aside, come together, and get something done.

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