Walsh Urges People to Continue Social Distancing, Expands Outreach

Mayor Walsh continues to urge Bostonians to abide by the guidelines set forth by the City and state in order to continue to control the spread of COVID-19.

As of April 21, Boston had 6,010 confirmed cases of the virus, and 196 people had died.

Mayor Walsh speaks at one of the daily press briefings on information related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The good news is that what we’re doing is making a difference,” Walsh said on Wednesday. He said that social distancing, wearing face coverings, and the added care capacity have helped to not overwhelm the city’s hospital system.

“It’s important right now more than ever to be vigilant about face covering, distancing, and cleaning,” Walsh said. He stressed the importance of wearing face coverings, especially when in closer proximity with others such as when riding the MBTA and shopping for groceries.

Governor Charlie Baker announced at the beginning of the week that all Massachusetts schools would remain closed until the end of the school year.

“Don’t let this pandemic take away this moment and this sense of achievement you have for yourself,” Mayor Walsh said to high school seniors who will have to miss out on prom, senior week events, and graduation. “You’re going to do amazing things in the future.”

He also recognized the effect this pandemic has had on college seniors.“Colleges are essential to our city’s identity and economy,” Walsh said. He said he had a conversation with college presidents this week about what reopening would look like, as “they have to consider public health and safety measures they haven’t thought about before.” He said this work and discussion would continue in the coming weeks and could serve as a model for other sectors in the city.

Walsh also announced a fourth round of funding for the Boston Resiliency Fund. This new round is $1.7 million, and he said that $13.8 million total has been distributed so far to 135 organizations in the city.

Walsh also spoke about the importance of immigrants to Boston, especially right now as so many are essential workers providing health care and food to Boston residents. He said that immigrants are 35 percent of the city’s health care workers.

“Boston and the region’s economy depends on immigrants,” Walsh said. “In Boston, we will continue to stand with our immigrant community no matter what.”

Getting the Message Out

Walsh announced on April 17 that more efforts are being made to get the message across to all Boston residents. “We have nearly 200 digital and print billboards across the city,” he said. The City is also calling 80,000 seniors twice a week in six different languages, he added.

Over the weekend, sound trucks also broadcasted information about the importance of staying at home and other COVID-19 related information in seven different languages throughout Boston’s hardest hit communities—Hyde Park, Mattapan, Dorchester, East Boston, Roxbury, and Roslindale. The Mayor also said that the City is planning another literature delivery.

“We are in a public health emergency,” Walsh said. “We need you to do your part.” The Mayor reminded residents to cover their faces outside their homes, practice social and physical distancing, and “avoiding all crowded situations.”

Mayor Walsh also said that the City is prioritizing getting food to people each day, with 65 youth oriented food sites across the city—and several others for adults as well in East Boston, Dorchester, South Boston, Roxbury, Mattapan, and Brighton.

“Those sites have fed over 400,000 meals to students across the city,” Walsh said.

Walsh also addressed questions and concerns about colleges starting up again in the fall. He said that he will be setting up a call with Boston’s college presidents this week to see what the programs might look like this fall.

“Colleges have an advantage to have social distancing if need be,” he said. He said the issue might lie within the dormitories, where students are in notoriously close contact and able to easily spread germs. He said he will report more information about this as he gets it.

As for elementary, middle and high schools, Walsh said it’s “too early to tell” what summer school would look like, and he thinks that any decisions regarding schools should be a statewide one.

Over the weekend, Mayor Walsh said he observed many people following social distancing guidelines in the nice weather, but he also saw people playing golf and soccer. He said that the Boston Police Department had to break up golf games and tell people to leave the course.

“We need to stop the spread of the virus,” Walsh said.

He also said that the Boston Athletic Association reported “very little activity” along the marathon route on Monday after Walsh asked over the weekend that people not run the marathon on the 20th, as the time will come in September to run the race.

Boston Hope, PPE, and Testing Update

The Boston Hope field hospital at the Boston Convention Exhibition Center has served over 250 patients so far. The City of Boston will also now be participating in the mask decontamination that is happening in Somerville, which Walsh said will “take some pressure off finding more supplies,” as each mask can be reused up to 20 times if properly decontamination is used.

The City has also created a mobile testing app that shows where testing sites are across the city, and it can be found at bphc.org. It includes things like locations, hours, and phone numbers for the different test sites. Walsh said the goal is to have every community health center be able to provide testing to the residents in their neighborhoods.

Additionally, information about the number of people tested and the rates of positive tests in each community will now be available online.

People can still text the word BOSCOVID to 888777 to receive text updates from the city, and codes for ten other languages can be found at boston.gov/coronavirus.

Walsh said that once the virus passes, things are “going to be very different” in the city for a while as everyone adapts to a new normal. He said plans will have to be in place for reopening and thinking about what the operation of places like restaurants will look like moving forward.

“We do have to get back at some point to some type of normalcy,” Walsh said, but for now, people should continue to follow social distancing guidelines and other precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

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