10.2 min readBy Published On: December 22nd, 2020Categories: News0 Comments on Recap of Mayor Walsh’s Press Conference from 12/22

Please see below for updates from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press briefing on Tuesday, December 22, 2020.

Comments on last week’s snowstorm:

  • Last Thursday, Boston set a new record for snowfall for December 17. All Boston neighborhoods saw over 13 inches of snow. At the height of the storm, we had 700 pieces of equipment on our streets, which allowed us to clear the roads quickly and get the city moving again.

  • The Mayor thanked everyone who played a role both during and after the storm, including the 200 Public Works employees who worked the storm, and who continue working on clean-up efforts in neighborhoods across the City; the 3-1-1 call takers who fielded over 3,300 calls and worked long hours; and residents all over the City who shoveled their driveways, sidewalks and pedestrian ramps, moved their cars during the parking ban, looked after their neighbors, and more. 

  • He said that snow storms are always a community effort and asked residents to continue helping us clear the snow. This coming Thursday and Friday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the forecast calls for over an inch of rain. We are reminding residents to shovel out and clear their storm drains. This will help prevent flooding in our streets. Temperatures are expected to drop Friday night, and our Public Works staff will be treating the roads for ice.

COVID-19 cases and testing data:  

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts today (Tuesday) reported 3,293 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 318,143 cases. The state reported 43 new deaths, for a total of 11,549 people who have passed away due to COVID-19. 

  • The City of Boston today (Tuesday) reported 253 new cases, for a total of 36,476 cases. The City reported 3 new deaths, bringing the total to 975. 

  • For the week ending on December 13: 

    • We had an average of 5,212 people tested each day. That’s down slightly compared to the week before. That does not include college testing. 

    • The average number of positive tests each day for Boston residents was 447. That’s about the same as the week before. 

    • Our current community positivity rate was 8.0%, up from 7.2% the week before.

    • Dorchester, East Boston, and Hyde Park remain the neighborhoods with the highest positivity.

  • The Mayor said that our case numbers remain concerning, and that our hospital numbers also remain higher than we’d like to see. The City is staying in close touch with local hospitals to understand what they are seeing, and how we can support them.

Updates on mobile testing sites:

  • 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. This week the mobile sites are:

    • In Hyde Park, at Boston Renaissance Charter School on Hyde Park Ave: Today, December 22 and tomorrow, December 23. Also on Saturday, December 26. This site is drive-thru only, and appointments are required. 

    • In Roxbury, at Washington Park Mall on Warren Street: Today through Thursday (Christmas Eve), from 1 pm to 5 pm. Saturday, December 26, from 10 am to 2:30 pm. Pre-registration is required. 

    • In Jamaica Plain, at the Mildred Hailey Apartments on Heath Street: Today, December 22, until 7 pm. Wednesday, December 23 from 10 am to 2 pm. Walk ups are welcome, and no appointment is needed.

  • With Christmas this week, there will be reduced hours for mobile testing. As always, call ahead if you are looking to get tested. To learn more about these or any of our testing sites, visit Boston.gov/Coronavirus or call 3-1-1.

  • The Mayor encouraged everyone to get tested. He said that the more people who get tested, the better idea we have of how the virus is affecting our communities, which will help the City direct resources to the places they are needed most. 

Rollback to the State’s reopening plan:

  • Earlier today, Governor Baker announced a 25% capacity limit for most industries. These restrictions are in effect starting this Saturday, December 26 until January 10.

  • As a reminder, on December 16, Boston moved back into a modified Phase 2, Step 2 of reopening, for at least three weeks. We are also going to be following the State’s rollback on capacity. But that does not change the industries temporarily closed to in-person use in Boston:

    • Museums, movie theaters, gyms, etc. will not reopen to in-person use until at least January 6. 

  • Starting Saturday, in accordance with the State’s new restrictions, restaurants, close contact personal services, places of worship, indoor golf facilities, and retail businesses in Boston will be reduced to 25% capacity. Office spaces will be reduced from 40% to 25% as well. 

  • The Mayor reminded everyone that the goal of these rollbacks is to slow the spread of the virus now, so we can avoid a more severe shutdown later. For more information about reopening policies in Boston, visit: Boston.gov/Reopening

Federal COVID-19 relief package:

  • Last night, Congress passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package. 

  • The Mayor, who has continually called on the Federal Government to do more to help the American people during this crisis, thanked the Massachusetts delegation for their advocacy on the issue. 

  • He said that this bill is a necessary step in the right direction. It provides support for families, small businesses, schools, and vaccine distribution; it helps protect jobs; it boosts unemployment benefits; it provides more access to food through increases to SNAP benefits; and it extends the federal eviction moratorium.

  • However, the Mayor insisted that Congress must go further to help the American people, saying, “The Biden-Harris administration plans to act immediately to bring comprehensive support. We hope that will include direct aid to cities and towns. This crisis is far from over. People and communities are still struggling, every day, and recovery is going to be a long process. We need the Federal Government to do its part in getting the country back on its feet. That is what we expect from the leaders we elect to Washington. So it is my hope that, when Congress returns from break, they will not waste a moment in delivering the aid that the American people deserve.”

Holiday health and safety guidance:

  • The Mayor reminded residents that this time of year, we sometimes see an uptick in package thefts and car break-ins. 

  • He urged people to make arrangements to ensure packages won’t be left unattended, whether they’re sending or receiving them. The Postal Service offers special delivery instructions which can be submitted through their website. 

  • The City is also reminding everyone not to leave valuables in their cars, and to double check that cars are locked. If you must keep valuables in your car, keep them out of sight. 

  • More tips on avoiding theft, and what to do if you experience it, are available at BPDNews.com.

  • He also reminded everyone to remain vigilant with COVID-19 precautions throughout the holiday season, saying, “We are still in a critical period of this crisis. The virus does not go away during the holidays. This is not the time to let your guard down. We all have the responsibility to keep our communities, and each other, safe. Our choices now could make all the difference in what our January and February look like.”

  • He reiterated that during the holidays, you should celebrate only with the people you live with; there should be no holiday parties; and that the City strongly encourages all Boston residents not to travel, as travel increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.

  • If anyone is 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 everyone should stay six feet apart and wear masks when they are not eating or drinking.

  • The Mayor issues a reminder that getting tested for COVID-19 does not protect you from infection. In other words, you cannot “test your way in or out” of a safe, traditional holiday gathering. No matter what, gathering in a group will increase your risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. If people do gather, the Mayor said, you should get tested before and after. 

  • The City has posted additional holiday health and safety guidance on its website.

  • The Mayor acknowledged the hard decisions and hard conversations families have been having this holiday season, saying: “I know it’s hard to be away from the people you love — especially during the holidays. And it’s hard to say ‘no’ to our loved ones. Many of us have been having difficult conversations with family members about what to expect this year. Instead of gathering in person, consider safer ways to connect — such as through virtual platforms. This is a time to be creative, and keep the holiday spirit alive.”

New technology opportunity for seniors:

  • The Mayor discussed one of the ways the City has gotten creative this holiday season. Most years, the Age Strong commission hosts a Holiday Calls event at City Hall for seniors. Usually, we welcome hundreds of seniors to City Hall to make free, long-distance phone calls to loved ones around the country and the world. 

  • This year, we can’t bring the seniors into City Hall. But we’re more concerned than ever about isolation, loneliness, and economic insecurity among our elders. So we’re teaming up with partners on a special program in place of the phone call event. 

  • AT&T is making a $30,000 donation to our partner Tech Goes Home, the digital equity nonprofit. Tech Goes Home will work with our Age Strong Commission to provide devices and technology training to older adults. 

  • The Mayor said, “Access to technology is a pressing need in Boston’s older community, and we want to do everything we can to keep our seniors connected. I want to thank AT&T, Tech Goes Home, and our Age Strong team for keeping this tradition alive and helping our residents connect with their loved ones this holiday season.” 

  • He also encouraged seniors to reach out to our Age Strong Commission to learn more about ways to stay connected and engaged in the new year.

Coping with isolation and loneliness: 

  • The Mayor closed with a message for anyone who is struggling with mental health issues or other challenges right now, saying: “The end of the year is a time for reflection, and we will all be reflecting on a very difficult year. Many people have been hit hard by the pandemic. We have all had to make sacrifices. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, tired, or sad. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone or ask for help.”

  • He shared some of the resources available, if you are feeling hopeless or lost:

    • You can reach out to a health provider or trusted community organization, or you can call 3-1-1 and we’ll connect you to resources.

    • You can also call or text the Samaritans 24/7 Helpline at 877-870-4673. 

    • For people facing domestic violence or abuse of any kind: Never hesitate to call 9-1-1 if you or someone you know needs help.

  • The Mayor said that he appreciates the community’s help with this, asking everyone to stay in touch with friends, family, and neighbors so that no one feels alone this holiday season.

  • He closed with this reflection: “We still have a long way to go in this crisis. But we have turned a corner in this pandemic. And we have reasons to be optimistic. The vaccine is rolling out. Every day, people are getting vaccinated — including right here in Boston. When the time comes, I ask everyone to follow the lead of our health care heroes and medical experts and take the vaccine. It’s another act that we can all take as individuals to protect ourselves and our families, and bring our community safely through this crisis. We are finally at a point where we feel like we have less days ahead of us in this virus, than we do behind us. And while we don’t know exactly when this pandemic will end, we know that better days are coming. So I am asking everyone to hang in there. Take care of yourself, and look out for one another. Listen to the public health officials and keep doing your part to stay safe and protect those around you. We will get through this difficult time, if we all continue to work together.”

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