Guest Op-Ed: Thank You, Boston

By Mayor Martin J. Walsh

On January 12, I held my final State of the City, which was broadcast live from Boston’s newest civic treasure, the completely rebuilt Roxbury branch of the Boston Public Library in Nubian Square. 

2020 was a tough year. 2021 is a year for healing as we keep each other safe; get through this final stretch of the pandemic; and build a recovery that moves all our neighborhoods forward. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have lost 1,077 Bostonians to COVID-19. They are loved and missed and their families are in my heart. COVID has affected all of us and it has hit some harder than others. Black, Latino, and immigrant communities faced the biggest impacts. Inequities in health, housing, and work opportunities caused more illness and job loss in these communities. Older Bostonians and those with disabilities face the highest risk and the most isolation. Most students have been out of classrooms since March, and families have struggled with childcare. 

While 2020 was a year of struggle, it was also a year that brought out the best in our city. We saw nurses, doctors, and medical staff gearing up and going into battle to save lives and provide comfort. We saw EMTs on the frontlines of a pandemic, helping over 4,000 COVID-19 patients. Firefighters brought recovery coaches to calls, to help those struggling with addiction. Police officers took 800 guns off the street, keeping us safe no matter the risk. Essential workers and City employees answered the call, day after day. Residents stepped up to help each other in a thousand different ways. The heroes are all around us.

As a City, we came together. We built a field hospital in five days. We created a Health Inequities Task Force to address health disparities across race and ethnicity. We’ve provided over six million meals to children, families, veterans, and seniors. We got 40,000 laptops to students. We got permanent rental vouchers to over 1,000 families with children at risk of homelessness. And, we created the Boston Resiliency Fund, providing over $30 million to help 250,000 households in need. And in 2020, despite the pandemic, we approved $8.5 billion of new investment in our city, creating a potential 35,000 new jobs. 

In 2021, we will continue that work. One of our next priorities is getting students safely back into Boston Public Schools. We will also continue to support small businesses, renters and homeowners, and those in recovery; push even further towards meeting our

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