Op-Ed: Through every challenge, Boston stands together

By Mayor Martin Walsh

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The coronavirus is a serious public health crisis that is affecting every aspect of life in our city. I know that the changes have been disruptive, and the cancellations have been disappointing. Some working people are losing paychecks, worried about bills, and struggling with childcare. And through it all, many of the people we want to wrap our arms around the most, are the very people we must keep at arm’s length, for their own safety. I want you to know that the city is working around the clock to slow the spread of the virus, keep people healthy, and make sure that our city can return to normal as soon as possible.
The City of Boston is committed to keeping all residents informed and up-to-date. Here are the facts. The common symptoms of coronavirus are fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Most people recover by managing their symptoms at home. But for some, especially older people and those with medical conditions, it can be a severe illness. If you think you are getting sick, isolate yourself from others, and call your healthcare provider, or call 3-1-1 to talk to the Mayor’s Health Line. You can learn more, including the latest updates, at boston.gov/coronavirus.
Here are the preventative measures that public health officials and healthcare workers have been recommending: Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Wipe down surfaces that you frequently touch with disinfectant. Practice social distancing by avoiding crowded places, staying at least six feet away from others, and staying home as much as possible.
What I want people to remember is that these steps aren’t just about keeping yourself healthy, they are also about protecting the most vulnerable in our community, including people who have weakened immune systems and our older residents. No one wants to be isolated, especially during these times of stress and uncertainty, but the steps we take now will slow the spread of the virus, and will help all Bostonians in the long run. A lot of people are asking what they can do to help at a time like this. Staying home, and minimizing contact with others, especially those who are most vulnerable, are the best things you can do. I also encourage people to check in on one another. Sometimes, a phone call, an email, or a smile across the hallway or the yard can go a long way. If you are able, I encourage you to donate to the Boston Resiliency Fund, a new resource we created for local families in need. You can donate or learn more at Boston.gov/BostonResiliencyFund.
As a City government, we have taken bold and aggressive action to protect all residents. We closed the Boston Public Schools, with plans to re-open on April 27. If it is safe to re-open our schools sooner, we will do so. And we created a plan to keep all 53,000 students fed and engaged with learning activities for up to six weeks out of school. To protect our families, we closed all our City gyms, pools, and community centers. We closed all Boston Public Library locations. The BPL offers thousands of ebooks, audio books, and movies that you can access for free online. Visit BPL.org to learn more. To protect workers, we’ve ordered a pause to construction, with the exception of essential safety related projects. Restaurants are closed for dining-in, but we are lifting regulations to allow all restaurants to offer take-out and delivery. And we’re ready to help any establishment get set up with a delivery service. We have worked with the Boston Housing Authority and private property owners to stop eviction proceedings until the crisis is over.
At City Hall, we will only have employees on-site who are critical to the operations of the City. We’re maintaining essential City services in order to keep our government running, including public health and public safety; trash and recycling; and more. We will also continue to provide essential and emergency support for seniors, children, veterans, immigrant communities, and people experiencing homelessness. Our first responders are working and on duty, because safety is always our top priority.
When we have been challenged in the past, the City of Boston always works together. We have proven that we are Boston Strong. With vigilance and patience, with empathy and love, we will get through this together. I want to thank all the people of Boston for their strength, their understanding, and their support at this critical time.

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