Mayor Walsh continues to stress the importance of social distancing, especially as the state prepares for a surge in cases of COVID-19. He also provided some updates on programming and resources the city is offering residents through press conferences and releases.
“We are at the most vital point of the outbreak,” Walsh said on Wednesday afternoon. “Slowing the spread of the virus right now is critical in saving lives.”
As of April 14, Boston had 4,286 cases and 84 deaths. So far, 547 people have recovered from the virus.
Mayor Walsh said on April 13 that “the next two weeks are very critical to achieving our goal,” and that the number of cases in Boston have “more than doubled in the past 7 days.”
He said that new projections put the peak’s arrival “closer to the end of April.”
As some states and the federal government talk about reopening the economy after May 1, Walsh said that this is “not only unrealistic; it’s impossible. “This is not the time to talk about going back to normal,” he said. “We will start to continue to move forward after the surge passes.”
He said that as of Sunday evening, 29 patients are in the hospital side of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center field hospital, and 16 are on the homeless individuals side.
Walsh also said that there has been “quick progress” on the small business relief fund, and the City has received nearly 3000 applications. Businesses can use this money towards rent, payroll, or other challenges this virus has presented. Walsh said that this round of funding has closed, but he will make an announcement when more funds are available, and the federal aid should be “coming down soon” as well as state aid, he said.
So far, the Boston Resiliency Fund has distributed $10.4 million: $4.7 million for children, families,a nd seniors, $3.7 million for healthcare for vulnerable populations, and $2 million for home learning and other technologies.
Walsh announced another $1.7 million in grants for the Boston Resiliency Fund on Wednesday afternoon, and said that the funds will continue to go to “organizations serving the hardest hit communities.”
In one month, the fund has raised over $25 million, and will continue to grow. To donate to the fund or apply for funds, visit boston.gov/coronavirus.
“This is what a strong city does,” Walsh said. “We see a need, we work together, and we meet it.”
Additionally, starting on April 15, the City will post race and ethnicity data for deaths, and is working on reaching more communities with resources in more languages.
According to the City of Boston website, 64 percent of total cases in Boston have known race/ethnicity data. Of those known cases, four percent are Asian, 41 percent are Black/African-American, 17 percent are Latinx/Hispanic, 28 percent are white, and 11 percent are “other.”
Walsh also continued to remind people to cover their face when outside their homes, only leave for essential items like groceries, and to wash their hands. He also warned younger people to take this virus seriously.
“Over 70 percent of our cases are not senior citizens,” he said. “The number of affected young adults is almost certainly higher in reality.”
He also told people not to throw their gloves or masks in the street or in parking lots. “Let’s be good neighbors and let’s keep making sure our communities are clean and safe.”
One Boston Day
April 15 marks the 7th anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, and has since become known as One Boston Day. While the day has been used in the past for people to get together in remembrance, this year it will be much different.
“Join us in standing together while standing apart,” Walsh said, and proclaimed April 15 as a “citywide day of reflection, prayer, and unity.”
“Everyone has a chance to slow down, reflect, and share,” he said. Using the hashtag #onebostonday on social media, Bostonians can reflect and share with each other by coming together in a modified way. “The spirit of One Boston Day is more important than ever,” he said on Wednesday.
At 2:49pm on Wednesday, the Old South Church rang its bells to honor the lives lost in the 2013 bombings. Additionally, an online interfaith prayer service was held at 2:00pm led by local faith leaders and musicians.
The City has also shared a list of kind acts for people to do at home, which can be found at onebostonday.org. Walsh said one of the most important acts of kindness is thanking first responders for all of their work on the front lines caring for people with COVID-19.
“We need One Boston Day spirit now more than ever,” Walsh said. “We will get through tis difficult time together as One Boston.”
COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force
Mayor Walsh on April 9 announced a COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force “to provide guidance to the City of Boston on addressing current inequities in data analysis, testing sites and health care services for Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and immigrants,” according to a release from the city. “The Task Force will review existing racial and ethnic data among Boston residents, as well as review data collection processes, data analysis and best practices related to the COVID-19 response for the Black, Latino, Asian, and immigrant populations. This guidance will support a strategy for equity and accessibility to services for populations that are historically underserved or underrepresented, including recommendations for additional resources and considerations, that can be implemented by the City of Boston and community and healthcare stakeholders that are serving as partners in this response.”
Mortgage Relief Partnership with Banks
Mayor Walsh also announced that 12 of Boston’s largest housing lenders will offer “at least three months of deferred mortgage payments for homeowners who contact them and demonstrate that they have been financially impacted by the public health crisis,” according to a release from the city.
Lenders have also agreed to not charge late fees, and failure to pay will not be reported to credit bureaus. Rather than paying the deferred payments back in a lump sum, lenders will work with homeowners on creating a payment plan.
Many lenders are also offering longer deferral periods, and the city recommends that homeowners contact their lenders directly. Additionally, the Boston Home Center can answer questions as well by calling 617-635-4663, ext. 3.
Dedicated Housing for First Responders, Shelter Staff, and Veterans
Mayor Walsh announced that 334 beds throughout the city have been dedicated to first responders, shelter staff, and veterans to prevent further spread of COVID-10.
Hotel Boston in Brighton will house Boston Police officers, Boston Fire and Boston EMS members who have tested positive for the virus or who may have been exposed at work and are “unable to effectively isolate at home,” a release from the city states. The hotel can house 74 people in single occupancy rooms with private bathrooms and a kitchenette.
Northeastern University will also provide 135 single-occupancy rooms in its West Village dormitory to first responders who live with someone who might be at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
“Boston University will be providing 75 rooms to Pine Street Inn’s shelter staff who have been working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 public health emergency caring for people experiencing homelessness at their shelter facilities,” the release states. Additionally, “ The City of Boston has been working on increasing its medical and care capacity for vulnerable populations and hospitals during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Mayor Walsh recently announced expanded capacity to help reduce congestion and increase social distancing in homeless shelters, adding 172 new beds at a Suffolk University dormitory, 75 new beds at 1515 Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton, and 55 new beds in the South End near City shelters.” For veterans, the New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV) will use a former nursing home facility in Brighton to temporarily relocate between 40 and 50 COVID-negative veterans.