Walsh Gives COVID-19 Update; Addresses Weekend Violence

Mayor Marty Walsh held a press conference on September 8—his first one in nearly two weeks—to update the public on COVID-19 and other happenings in the city, including the uptick in shootings over the Labor Day weekend.

Walsh reported that as of Tuesday afternoon, there were 25 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Boston, and no new deaths have been reported for a full week, which he called “very encouraging.”

He said that testing went from about 1500 people a day to about 3000 people per day, and that much of the increase can be attributed to students coming back to campus for the fall semester.

He said that colleges and universities in the City are repeatedly testing students and monitoring the results to help prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 in the neighborhoods. He said that the City will “continue to maintain increased testing capacity” at places like community health centers and mobile testing sites across the City.

Walsh also continued to warn against large gatherings, calling them “dangerous.” He urged college students to follow the guidelines of their schools, and for households with multiple generations to be “extra cautious.”

He said that while he “understands the need to socialize,” he stressed the importance of staying six feet away from others and wearing a face covering.

“If you’ve been to a party or gathering of any kind, I want you to assume you’ve been exposed to the virus,” he said, and to get tested. “COVID-19 is still very much with us.”

He said that the economic impacts of the virus are also still being felt by the community, and the City will continue to provide free meals to youth, families, and seniors as well as other other investments in the communities.

He said that the Boston Public Library (BPL) has “been an essential source of support for residents,” with the recent reopening of safe computer access at the Copley branch, and the BPL to go program. He said that 94,000 physical items have been reserved through the program, and around 9,400 people are making use of library services daily.

He announced that the moratorium on late fees for adult library card holders that was put in place in March has been extended through the end of the calendar year.

He also talked about the importance of responding to the US Census, as the last day to respond is September 30. He said that so far, 57 percent of Boston households have responded, which he said he attributes to the pandemic. He stressed the importance of responding, as it only takes a few minutes, and will help provide adequate funding and legislators to the City’s districts.

President Trump has cut the count short by a month, and Walsh said he has signed onto an amicus brief challenging the decision.

“It’s been estimated that for every resident who doesn’t fill out the Census, we’ll lose $2400 in Boston in funding every year for the next ten years,” Walsh said. “Those are the resources our community needs and deserves.” To fill out the Census, visit my2020census.gov.

Walsh and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross addressed the shootings over the long weekend.

“One act of violence at any time is unacceptable,” Walsh said. “Our goal is always to get to zero.” He said that 15 mental health clinicians have been added to respond to mental health calls across the City, and that the City is “dedicated to eliminating the root cause of violence, including poverty and systemic racism.”

Commissioner Gross said that there were 12 “independent shootings” in the City over the Labor Day weekend. “At tis time, our investigating reveals that none of the 12 shootings are connected art this time,” he said. He said that they have seen the “Same repeat violent offenders committing the crimes” in recent months.

“These individuals causing violence in our neighborhoods should be locked up,” he said. He also said that the courts should open back up, even if virtually. “That’s why you have two shootings within three days—it’s the same individuals. There has to be some accountability,” he said.

Walsh said that there has been an uptick in shootings and homicides this year, and that he wants to send the message that “if you do something bad in the city you will be brought to court and prosecuted by the appropriate authorities.”

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