7 min readBy Published On: September 11th, 2020Categories: News0 Comments on Recap of Mayor Walsh’s press briefing from September 10th

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s COVID-19 press briefing on Thursday, September 10, 2020.

Case numbers: 

  • As of today (Thursday) in Massachusetts:363 new confirmed cases, for a total of 121,759. There were 20 deaths, for a total of 8,957.
  • Also as of today (Thursday) in Boston: 51 new cases, for a total of 16,052. No new deaths were reported, and the total remains at 754.

Overview of COVID-19 trends in Boston:

  • The Mayor provided an update on the overall trends we’re seeing in Boston.
  • For the week ending September 5 (Saturday), the 7-day average positive test rate was 1.5%, and continues to move in the right direction. 
  • Over 3,200 Boston residents are being tested every day, and colleges account for roughly half of that number. The Mayor said that widespread testing of college students is essential for containing new infections. Despite doubling our testing numbers, our number of positive tests has not gone up; it has gone down slightly, from 48 to 47 cases per day. 
  • In East Boston, an area that has seen the highest rates of COVID-19 this summer, we are seeing a promising trend. The positive test rate is at 6.6%– still higher than we want, but significantly lower than 11.4%, which is where it stood before the City’s targeted outreach efforts began a few weeks ago. The Mobile Team will stay in East Boston for an additional week, and we’ll continue outreach. Every other neighborhood’s positive test rate is under 4% and most were under 3%. 
  • The Mayor thanked everyone who has contributed to keeping these numbers low, and said that the City will continue providing widespread testing access across the city; information, food, and rental relief to residents; and PPE and signage to small businesses. For information and resources, visit: boston.gov/coronavirus and boston.gov/reopening.
  • He also reminded everyone to remain vigilant, with social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing. He urged everyone to get their flu shot this year. He called on business owners to follow the guidelines and make sure their employees and customers can follow them as well. He called on college students to follow their schools’ guidelines. And he reminded people who live in large households, with several roommates or multiple generations, to be extra cautious. 
  • He said that anyone who has been to a party or gathering of any kind should assume they have been exposed to the virus and get tested.

General City updates:

  • The Mayor touched on some of the ways the Boston has moved forward as a City during the COVID outbreak, including:
  • The largest-ever new investment in our schools;
  • The Mayor also outlined the new agreement between the Boston Public Schools and Boston Teachers Union ensuring a safe return to classroom  teaching in our phased-in, hybrid plan. 
  • Completing branch library renovations in Roxbury and Dorchester; 
  • Advancing master plans for historic investments in Franklin Park and Boston Common; 
  • Getting 1,300 units of affordable housing back into construction;
  • Housing nearly 250 homeless individuals, including 85 veterans; and
  • Issuing rental vouchers to 739 homeless families with children in Boston Public Schools.

Ongoing work to confront systemic racism:

  • The Mayor talked about how the pandemic has shined a bright light on what inequality does to our City and our country, and reiterated his commitment to addressing it through systemic change. 
  • In June, Mayor Walsh declared racism a public health crisis in the City of Boston, and took a number of steps to act on it, including moving 20% of the police overtime budget into anti-racism and community health programs, strengthening use-of-force policies in the police department; and appointing a Police Reform Task Force to make sure that the progress continues, and the community is shaping that progress. 
  • The Taskforce is chaired by former U.S. Attorney Wayne Budd. Its members are drawn from civil rights organizations, community activists, clergy, the legal community, and police officers of color. They’ve worked hard all summer, holding four listening sessions on key issues, and receiving written testimony. They researched the issues and their history. and they talked to experts and activists working both in Boston and other cities. They have produced draft recommendations to the Mayor, and they are inviting the community to give input, before moving forward with implementation. 

Today, the Mayor provided a public update on the draft recommendations:

  • The first recommendation is to replace the Co-Op Board with a new body, called the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency. It would have the power to investigate complaints and subpoena witnesses and evidence. 
  • The Mayor said that he wants to increase trust and accountability, and ensure fairness for residents and officers. Since 2013, complaints of improper conduct have fallen by 40% and excessive force complaints have dropped by over 50%. The Mayor said that he wants those incidents to be low, and at the same time, we want residents to feel comfortable coming forward with any concern. 
  • The second recommendation is to strengthen the work the Police Department does on diversity and inclusion.

    • Currently nearly 22% of uniformed officers are African American; close to 11% are Latino; 2.5% are Asian; and 14% are women, which is good by national standards.
    • The Mayor said that the City of Boston brought back the Police Cadet program to create a diverse pipeline from our neighborhoods to law enforcement careers, but we need to be closer to our population demographics in every category, and we need to have policies and systems in place that support officers of color and help us move forward. 
  • The third recommendation is to expand the body-worn camera program; and continue to ban the use of biometrics and facial recognition software. 

    • The Mayor said that these things are currently happening in Boston, and that the City will continue to develop those policies. 
    • The fourth recommendation is to enhance the Use of Force policies so that the rules and the consequences are clear to both the officers and the public. 
    • The fifth and final recommendation is to adopt practices around record keeping and data that ensure transparency and public access.
    • The Mayor reiterated that these are draft recommendations, and that he wants the community to play a big role in guiding any and all reforms in the Boston Police Department. He encouraged everyone to review the recommendations (which are currently available in English, and will be available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Cabo Verdean Creole, Haitian Creole, and Chinese by tomorrow) at Boston.gov/endingracism. The Task Force will take written comments starting next week, and they will hold a public listening session on Tuesday, September 22. 
  • The Mayor also thanked Chairman Wayne Budd and the members of the Task Force. He also thanked the Bostonians who have been making their voices heard in the streets, including residents, elected officials, activists, and police officers.

Remembering September 11th:

  • The Mayor closed today’s press conference by acknowledging that tomorrow is the 19th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. He said that this is not an easy time for the victims’ families, including many in the Boston area, and asked the Boston community to keep them in their thoughts and prayers.
  • Normally, there would be in-person observances of the anniversary. The Mayor encouraged residents to tune into a virtual event hosted by the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund which will take place tomorrow morning starting at 8:30 a.m. on its website
  • The Mayor offered this reflection: 

“I also want to remember that over 400 victims were first responders, including at least 60 police officers. This is a difficult day for first responders and their families. Many of them lost people they knew. Many went to New York in the aftermath to help look for survivors. They and their families know that they would offer the same sacrifice–and in fact they have, in the Marathon bombing and other acts of violence. 

So as we talk about police reform, I’d like us to remember we are talking about human beings who do a difficult job.  They are moms and dads, sons and daughters. They are neighbors and coaches and mentors. They are overwhelmingly good people, who devote their lives to protecting us. They take guns off our streets every single day. They put their safety on the line in both everyday situations and extreme circumstances like terror attacks. I thank them. 

The lesson of 9/11 is similar to the lesson we should take from 2020. We can’t go back to normal; we have to create a new normal– a new normal where everyone is heard and respected, and everyone receives equity and justice, no matter who you are.”

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