Tuesday, March 31, 2020

COVID 19: Parks, Health Services, Blood Drives & 2020 Census

The City of Boston has 825 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive) in Boston residents. So far, 59 of these 825 residents have fully recovered. There have been 2 COVID-19 related deaths in Boston residents.

The Boston Public Health Commission will be providing the updated total of cases in Boston residents as it is received from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Information can be found at boston.gov/coronavirus or bphc.org

Massachusetts has 5,752 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive) and 56 deaths reported at this time. 

The City of Boston has two dashboards to provide statistics on COVID19 cases in Boston and throughout Massachusetts.  View them here.

The City of Boston has a free texting service to provide daily updates and information about the coronavirus. Text BOSCOVID to 99411.

The State of Massachusetts has partnered with South End based Buoy Health: a free health assistance tool to provide medical advice remotely. Buoy Health is not a replacement for emergency care. It provides a free online diagnostic tool which screens for COVID19. Additional information can be found at buoy.com/mass.

ONGOING BLOOD PRODUCT SHORTAGE The Red Cross is facing a critical shortage of blood products due to cancellations of blood drives across the Commonwealth because of implementation of necessary prevention and mitigation actions during COVID-19 outbreak. The Governor has deemed “Blood and plasma donors and the employees of the organizations that operate and manage related activities” as an essential service.

Those who are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give blood or platelets are urged to make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To schedule a new blood drive contact Bill Forsyth at (617) 699-3808 or via email .

All essential City of Boston services such as public safety, public health and maintenance operations including street cleaning, parks maintenance, trash and recycling pick up, etc will continue to be in operation.

While City Hall is still open and running for critical operations, we discourage anyone from coming into City Hall or any municipal building unless they have an urgent need for services that cannot be done by phone or online. If you have questions about whether a department is open to the public, please call the City's hotline at 3-1-1 to get connected to a department.

Residents are asked not to call 9-1-1 unless you are experiencing a medical emergency. All COVID-19 questions should be directed to the Mayor's Health Line at 617-534-5050 or 311. The City and BPHC will continue to provide updated information on bphc.org and boston.gov/coronavirus.

On March 29th, Mayor Walsh announced that the City of Boston will be taking new measures to discourage anyone from engaging in activities in our parks that put themselves and others at risk. This includes soccer, street hockey, basketball, and all group sports. To start, we’ve begun to temporarily put zip-ties on basketball hoops and we’re temporarily removing street hockey and tennis nets. The Parks Dept will also have new signage up this week. 

While our parks are open for solitary activities such as walks, we urge everyone to practice physical distancing of at least 6ft. The tot lots are closed and there should be no gatherings or contact sports. We are asking for your help communicating this to friends, families and neighbors. Full details about Boston Parks & Rec Dept COVID19 Operations can be found here

Food pantries are up and running, using grab-and-go packages and with special precautions. The Greater Boston Food Bank website has updated info on food pantries and other food resources, including a link to our meal sites for children and youth. Anyone facing food insecurity can also contact Project Bread at ProjectBread.org, or the Greater Boston Food Bank at GBFB.org. 

We are recommending that seniors with food access needs to call 311 to be connected to our Age Strong department.  

While we are practicing physical distancing, please take some time to fill out the 2020 Census online at https://my2020census.gov/. You may respond online in 13 different languages. The Census Bureau also offers web pages and guides in 59 non-English languages, including American Sign Language, as well as guides in Braille and large print. Visit Language Support to learn more.

It has never been more important that every Bostonian is counted. The information collected helps determine billions of dollars in federal funds to our communities for emergency response, schools, roads, and other public services for the next 10 years. The response rate is currently at 26.4% of Boston households and it is critical we have an accurate count. 

On March 30th, Mayor Walsh announced the Boston Housing Authority and the Boston Public Schools are creating a new partnership to house up to 1,000 families with BPS students at risk of displacement and experiencing homelessness over the next year. Outreach to get families into the application process will begin immediately to expand housing support for Bostonians during and after the COVID-19 public health emergency. The first housing placements are expected to begin in May 2020. Learn more.

On March 29th, Mayor Walsh announced that the City of Boston has secured over 240 additional beds to increase physical distancing in existing shelters and aid those in need of a home to safely quarantine or isolate themselves and reduce the further spread of COVID-19 in Boston.
  • Suffolk University will be repurposing a dormitory to provide at least 172 beds, helping reduce congestion and increase physical distancing in existing shelters in Boston. This facility will be managed in collaboration between the Pine Street Inn and the Boston Public Health Commission. This facility is not for quarantine—it’s being used to relieve pressure for regular use on our existing shelters.
  • The Davis Companies has provided another 70 beds at the site of a former long-term acute care hospital in Brighton (Commonwealth Avenue). This facility will be operated by the Boston Public Health Commission in partnership with Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. This facility is for quarantining purposes. 
People in need of homeless services should not go directly to Suffolk University or the new site in Brighton. They should go to one of the existing homeless shelters, which all remain open, including: Pine Street Inn, Woods Mullen, 112 Southampton, the Boston Rescue Mission, and Rosie's Place.

These 240 new beds are in addition to the 55 beds we already created for COVID-19 purposes in the South End near our shelters for isolation.

The City is also working closely with the State to re-purpose the Newton Pavilion site at Boston Medical Center. We will temporarily reopen it to meet the medical needs of homeless residents affected by coronavirus.  It will have a capacity of 250 beds. This facility is for medical care

To date, the City of Boston has secured close to 550 beds to make sure our residents experiencing homelessness are protected during the coronavirus public health emergency.

As of March 30th, Boston Public Schools has distributed 22,161 Chromebooks to students who do not have consistent access to a computer at home.

The City of Boston, in partnership with Project Bread, YMCA of Greater Boston, Boston Centers for Youth and Families, and other community organizations, has served over 100,000 meals since last week, averaging 13,000 meals per day.

More information about how we’re supporting Boston Public School families can be found here.

Please view Related Posts for information on City  and State Services from prior updates.

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