6.3 min readBy Published On: May 6th, 2020Categories: News0 Comments on Recap of Mayor Walsh’s Press Briefing – May 6th

Be Informed

Did you miss the mayor’s presser today? Don’t worry we’ve got a recap below from the May 6th press briefing. 

Case numbers as of Tuesday, May 5:

  • Massachusetts: 70,271 cases and 4,212 deaths.

  • Boston: 10,241 cases, 449 deaths, and 2,533 recoveries.

Case trends in Boston:

  • The Mayor opened with a summary of data to illustrate how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting the city.

  • The number of COVID-19 patients in Boston ICUs continues to decrease gradually.

  • The city’s expanded medical capacity is allowing hospitals to maintain expanded ICU capacity. As of Tuesday night, there were 166 patients at Boston Hope, including 81 on the homeless respite side, and 85 on the hospital side. Altogether, nearly 600 patients have been treated at the facility.

  • Overall, Boston’s average daily new cases have levelled off, and there are some indications that cases are going down.

  • The Mayor reiterated that Boston is moving in the right direction, because the precautions are working. But he cautioned that the curve is bending slowly, and there’s still progress to be made before the city can launch a recovery plan. The only way to get to that point is by staying focused on physical distancing and safe practices to slow the spread of the virus.

State order on face coverings:

  • The state order on face covering goes into effect today. Everyone over the age of 2 should wear a face covering whenever they leave their home; and if they remove it for whatever reason, they should put it back on when they are anywhere near other people.

  • The Mayor referenced situations in other parts of the country where enforcement has been uneven or inequitable in communities of color. He stressed that, while the state policy allows fines for non-compliance, the purpose of this guideline is to empower people to keep their family and community safe. The city’s approach is to support people, not punish them, especially if they are financially struggling.

  • The city’s focus for compliance will be on buildings where the public visits, such as grocery stores. Any store that is open should be requiring this.

  • The Mayor also reminded everyone that the state order on face coverings includes exceptions for those who have breathing challenges; those who rely on lip-reading to communicate; and those with certain mental health diagnoses.

  • If anyone needs help finding or making face coverings, please reach out and call 311 or visit: boston.gov/facecovering.

New testing benchmark and plan to expand testing:

  • The Mayor outlined a new plan to expand testing by sharing a commitment to meet a new testing benchmark, and the city’s strategy to get there.

  • The city’s goal for the coming weeks is to reach at least 1,500 tests per day, on average, across Boston. Before last week, Boston was testing at less than half that rate. Even after a significant increase in testing last week, the city is still several hundred daily tests short of that mark.

  • The city is launching a multi-pronged approach to hit the new mark:

    • First, the city will continue to expand testing at Community Health Centers.

      • The Mayor noted that the Boston Resiliency Fund has dedicated over $1 million to expanding testing access at CHCs, starting in the most severely impacted communities.

      • This week, the city is moving forward with testing at 2 centers in Jamaica Plain, and 1 in Charlestown.

      • The city’s goal is to increase testing by 50% across all health centers in the next month, while also expanding partnerships with hospitals.

    • Second, the city is expanding Mobile Testing capacity in Boston.

      • This will help fill gaps in access for certain neighborhoods and in environments where the risk of transmission is highest.

      • This work will be launched this month, with a goal of testing at least 150 people per day, 6 days a week.

    • Third, the city will conduct surveillance testing for groups at risk of faster spread and more severe impact. That means testing everyone in a select population to monitor infections and provide responses over time.

      • The city has started universal testing for Boston’s homeless community—which will soon be complete.

      • The next steps will be universal testing for other high-impact populations and sites, including first responders.

      • Ultimately, the goal is to do repeat testing for key populations and locations, on a rotating basis, as reopening and recovery move forward.

  • The city will continue antibody testing, which is key to understanding the path of the virus. This week Mass. General will complete testing in the 1,000-person study. The data will be shared next week. The city will then move forward with antibody testing for first responders and other key populations.

  • The Mayor stressed that the city will continue to be in conversation with the state on testing resources—and also to advocate for measures like testing capability in primary healthcare settings and broader criteria to allow more people to get tested.

  • Equity will be prioritized in all of this work, with targeted outreach across communities and in multiple languages.

  • Residents can find up-to-date information on the city’s map of testing sites at boston.gov/coronavirus.

Relief for small businesses:

  • The Mayor said that while the city is working to get in a position to begin reopening, we are also working to support residents through the various disruptions and hardships this virus is causing.

  • So far, the Small Business Relief Fund has distributed $2 million to 561 small businesses most impacted by the pandemic.

  • The city is adding $5.5 million to fully fund all eligible grant requests that were submitted during the application process. That combines newly available federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as commitments from Citizens Bank and Eastern Bank.

New partnership supported by the Boston Resiliency Fund:

  • The Mayor also announced a new partnership to empower local small businesses to provide food to residents in need.

    • Commonwealth Kitchen, a nonprofit in Dorchester that helps local food businesses launch and grow, has shifted to focus on emergency food relief through a program called Common Table.

    • They are working with local, minority-owned restaurants on a delivery plan to meal sites and group residential settings.

    • The city will support this program with a significant grant from the Boston Resiliency Fund, as well as partnership from our Office of Economic Development.

    • In total, the Resiliency Fund has raised $29.4 million from nearly 5,500 donors. Over $16 million has been distributed so far. More than half of that has gone to food and basic needs for children, families, and seniors. Millions more have gone out to vulnerable populations, front-line responders, and testing access.

Reminder to military veterans and families:

  • The Mayor reminded everyone that the city’s Veterans’ Services office is fully operational and here to support veterans and families.

  • The city continues to provide financial assistance through a state-local partnership under Chapter 115 of Massachusetts law.

  • Benefits include financial aid for food, housing, clothing, and medical care to veterans with limited incomes and their dependents.

General reminders:

  • The Mayor urged anyone who is experiencing a medical emergency to call 911. The city’s EMTs and hospitals have the capacity and ability to treat everyone.

  • The Mayor reminded people to please discard PPE properly—such as gloves, masks, and face coverings.

  • He also reminded everyone to take the 2020 US Census. This will chart the next 10 years in federal funding for Boston, which is distributed based on population count. Residents can fill out the form received in the mail or do it online at my2020census.gov. It’s safe and secure for everyone. Please call 311 if you need guidance or more information.

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