Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A RoundUp of City & State COVID 19 Updates & Preparations

updated 4/28/20: Governor Baker extends the state's limit on gatherings and the closure of non-essential businesses until May 18. A stay-at-home advisory remains in effect. An Economic Reopening Advisory Board will help plan for safe and reasonable reopening. Strict measures are in place in Boston, including a Public Health Advisory for everyone except essential workers to stay at home from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day.

Our South Boston Liaison, Haley Dillion hopes you're all doing well and staying healthy. As always, she encourages everyone to stay home whenever possible, practice physical distancing and wear face coverings outside the house, wash your hands, and clean and disinfect surfaces.

The City of Boston has 8,421 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive) in Boston residents. So far, 1,724 of these 8,421 residents have fully recovered. There have been 315 COVID-19 related deaths in Boston residents. 

The City posts race and ethnicity data for deaths, as well as for confirmed cases on boston.gov/coronavirus. As of yesterday, the data shows that of the 193 deaths in Boston, where race is known, 42% are white, 33% are black, 8% are Asian or Pacific Islander, 12% are Latino, and 4% are identified as other. The City of Boston’s COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force meets regularly. They are identifying key strategies to address inequities including expanded testing, data sharing and analysis, and strengthening neighborhood outreach.

Massachusetts has 56,462 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive) and 3,003 deaths reported at this time. Massachusetts has also tested 244,887 individuals to date. 

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

On April 27th, Mayor Walsh announced that the City of Boston is launching an antibody testing initiative. 
  • In partnership with Mass General Hospital, the City will test 1,000 residents of East Boston, Roslindale and the 02121 and 02125 zip codes of Dorchester. These neighborhoods reflect the diversity of our City and will give us important information about how different populations are being impacted.
  • Residents who agree to participate will be tested for both the COVID-19 virus and COVID-19 antibodies. This information should help the City understand and contain the virus more effectively, and chart the path to recovery.
  • Regular testing detects the presence of the virus and shows whether someone is currently infected. Antibody testing helps show how many people have already recovered from the virus.
  • Testing in the community will give a better idea of how widespread the outbreak really is in Boston, and give an estimate of how many more people will likely be infected. It will help the City plan and use resources in a smart way, and target areas that are the most vulnerable.
  • The Mayor gave an overview of the City’s expanded testing efforts, including:
    • Setting up 15 testing sites across Boston’s neighborhoods. 
    • Creating a Testing Access Map which shows the locations, hours, and contact information for all testing sites in Boston.
    • Increasing testing by over 30% in the last week, with increases as big as 57% in some areas.
    • Universal testing for our homeless population after securing 1,000 additional tests last week.

Boston Public Schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. The next phase of learning from home starts on Monday, May 4. Families will receive additional information from the Superintendent later this week about attendance, grading, and schedules.

  • Schools will be creating individualized learning plans for students with the highest needs, to make sure no one falls behind. These expectations may continue to evolve as the City gets further guidance from the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the US Department of Education.
  • The City of Boston continues to support remote learning for BPS students, including setting up more than 2,000 wifi hotspots, distributing more than 30,000 laptops, and serving free breakfast and lunch every single weekday to youth and children at 65 locations. To date, the City has served more than half a million meals at youth meal sites. We also operate six adult meal sites for grab-and-go meals. A map of Boston’s food resources can be found here
  • We are focused on students’ social and emotional health. Going forward, every school will have a Student Support Team to monitor students’ well-being, engagement, and progress. 
  • We will continue to share more details about our plans for the Boston Public Schools throughout this week.

On April 24th, Mayor Walsh announced the City of Boston will allow permitted restaurants to sell grocery items via delivery, curbside pickup, and takeout by waiving the required Retail Food Permit for the sale of uncooked foods.
  • The new temporary policy and guidance formed by the Mayor's Office of Economic Development, the Inspectional Services Department, and the Licensing Board for the City of Boston will improve access to food and essential items for residents, and help ensure social distancing guidelines continue to be upheld.
  • Restaurants that want to start selling groceries must follow strict food safety guidelines. 
  • They will also need to follow clear guidelines for packaging and labeling foods. 
  • Restaurants will still be required to limit occupancy to 10 people at any time, and maintain physical distancing, with at least 6 feet in between all staff and customers. 

Mayor Walsh stated that May 4 will be too early to relax any of the local or state measures in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • He acknowledged the financial hardships that people are going through and pledged to continue providing support. 
  • The City of Boston is building a recovery framework that will give us a flexible guide for short, medium and long-term recovery steps, based on data-driven public health benchmarks and including public health guidelines for how to re-open. 
  • The Mayor promised continued transparency about the reasoning and the timeline for every decision.


Mayor Walsh reminded everyone that if they are feeling sick, they should call their doctor or the 311 Health line before going to the hospital. But if they are having a medical emergency of any kind, they should call 911 immediately.
  • That includes difficulty breathing or pain in your chest, as well as anyone facing domestic violence or abuse. 
  • The City of Boston has the capacity to treat everyone who needs care. No one should be afraid to call 9-1-1.
  • Please help us get this message to people who need it.

Due to the on-going public health emergency, the annual Love Your Block Spring Clean Ups scheduled for May 2nd and May 16th have been canceled.
  • Love Your Block neighborhood clean ups are a time honored tradition of sprucing up our front steps, local parks, bonding with neighbors and giving back to our community. 
  • Each year hundreds of residents from different civic groups in every neighborhood across Boston participate in the program.
  • We will share details about a new date in the Fall once we’ve been able to reschedule. 

STATE OF MA HIGHLIGHTS from Senator Collins

On April 27th, the Commonwealth began the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a forgivable loan that can be used to pay salaries, rent, and other expenses for small business and nonprofits. If you are a small business owner, or a nonprofit organization, we strongly encourage you apply as soon as possible.

On April 20th, Governor Baker announced that residents who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits can now apply for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. 
  • The PUA program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits for those who are unable to work because of COVID-19 but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits. That includes self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and those with limited work history.
  • To be eligible for this new program, individuals must provide self-certification that they are otherwise able and available to work but are prevented from doing so by circumstances relating to COVID-19, including their own illness or that of a family member.
  • Visit www.mass.gov/pua
 for additional information.
On April 20th, Governor Baker signed a bill which puts a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 public health emergency. It includes protections for renters, homeowners and commercial tenants. Read the bill in its entirety here.

Related Posts

April Neighborhood Gathering: Northern Avenue Bridge, Paris & News You Don't Want To Miss

You are invited to a

Fort Point Seaport
Neighborhood Gathering

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
6 pm sharp


The New Northern Avenue Bridge
Chris Osgood
City of Boston Chief of Streets


Paris Seaport Bar & Creperie
60 Seaport Blvd
requesting liquor license amendment  for a 30 seat patio


Neighborhood Updates & Announcements

Organized by FPNA
Building a better neighborhood together in Fort Point & the Seaport

originally published 4.25.20

Sunday, April 26, 2020

What You Need To Know If A Contact Tracer Calls

Gov. Charlie Baker announced this past week that the community tracing collaborative is a key part of figuring out how the coronavirus spreads — but it only works if everyone participates. 

Although social distancing has been proven effective in slowing the spread of the virus, there is more that can be done, and that’s where you can help. With contact tracing in place, the spread of the virus can be tracked and additional exposure reduced to others by encouraging testing, supporting quarantine and social distancing. Many people who have COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms and don’t realize that they may be spreading the virus. So if you get a call, all you have to do is pick up. We are all in this together and by sharing information and listening to the direction of the CTC, we can help to not just flatten the curve in Massachusetts, but bend it downward to reduce the number of cases and ultimately, save lives.

How It Works
The COVID Community Team will reach out via phone and text to confirmed positive COVID-19 patients and anyone they’ve been in contact with to trace and contain the onward spread of the virus by arranging testing, as well as medical and quarantine support. Over 30 community health centers are participating in the collaborative, calling people in their communities and neighborhoods to track the spread.
You name will not be released to anyone. Your information is strictly confidential and will be treated as the private medical record it is. Your information will not be shared with other agencies, including immigration officials. Additionally, your name we will not released to anyone with whom you’ve been in contact. 

Phone calls will use the prefix 833 and 857 and your phone will say the call is from “MA COVID Team.” Calls will be made daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. All you have to do is answer the call. It’s that easy. 

What Happens During The Call
A case investigator will ask you for a list of all of the people you were within six feet of during the two days before you had symptoms. If you don’t have symptoms, we’ll ask about your activity during the two days before your diagnosis. We will also ask for the phone numbers of anyone you tell us about, so they can be called and told about their exposure.

We will encourage you to let your contacts know about your illness, but we will not be sharing your information. We’ll call your contacts and let them know they have been exposed so they can get tested, but not tell them your name.

If you are staying at home during the isolation period, the case investigator will also discuss any needs you may have and may connect you with a care resource coordinator who will help you get the support you need. Throughout your illness, a case investigator or your local board of health will check in on you regularly to monitor your symptoms and need.

“Please pick up if you get that call,” Baker said. “This is your opportunity to help stop the spread of COVID-19 especially perhaps in your house, apartment, or neighborhood.” 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Boston City Council Looks At Care, Remote Learning, 2020 Elections, Budget & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. Here are highlights from April 4 and April 15, 2020:

Resolution Supporting Immigrant Communities During COVID-19: The Council voted to adopt the resolution introduced by Councilor Flynn supporting our immigrant communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The sponsors noted that immigrant communities have been hit hard by the pandemic and are disproportionately left out of the stimulus.

Resolution Supporting SNAP benefits: The Council voted to adopt the resolution from Councilors Janey and Bok in support of expanding SNAP benefits for online and delivery services. With no EBT Online Purchasing Program in Massachusetts, people who rely on this benefit are forced to put themselves and their families at risk because their only option is going out to grocery stores to get food, whereas others can shop online from the safety of their home. Given current shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, it is imperative that the federal government allow more states to implement the EBT Online Purchasing Program so that we are able to create more opportunities for food access for those who use SNAP while they can continue to adhere to safety guidelines for COVID- 19.

Resolution for Equity in BPS Remote Learning: The Council voted to adopt the resolution from Councilor Campbell and Janey urging Boston Public Schools to ensure equity in access to quality remote learning. They noted that the given the lack of universal access to technology and broadband internet across the city of Boston, especially for lower income communities and communities of color, some students do not have access to remote learning. Access to educators and materials varies by school, and even within schools, with some students reporting several virtual sessions per week with a teacher and other students reporting one or none. Students who were already struggling in schools are likely to be the worst impacted by this time of remote learning and increased stress and uncertainty. Students who receive special education services, are on IEPs (Individualized Education Plan), or who are learning English as a second language may not be receiving any of the targeted services and instruction they are entitled to during this remote learning period.

Rationing of Care: Councilors Arroyo and Campbell called for a hearing on the proposed guidelines for ventilator distribution and ICU beds in the event of a shortage and ensuring that health inequities do not dictate medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidelines issued by the state last week ask hospitals to assign patients a score that gives preference to healthier patients who have a greater chance of surviving their illness, and living longer overall, with additional preference to medical personnel who are vital to treating others, and to women further along in pregnancy. In the event of tie scores, younger patients are given priority. The sponsors and several Councilors emphasized that racial health disparities should not lead to a systematic exclusion of patients of color according to these guidelines, and we must ensure that treatment is equitable. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Health.
Language Access: Councilors Mejia and Flynn called for a hearing on language access and information parity during the COVID-19 outbreak. 111,409 Boston residents speak English less than very well, and although Boston’s COVID-19 website and resources are being updated and translated daily, but delays in resources being translated can lead to confusion and misinformation. Getting information out to people who speak languages other than English is crucial for the health and safety of all Bostonians. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Civil Rights.
2020 Elections: Councilor O'Malley called for a hearing to explore preparations for the upcoming 2020 elections in September and November. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which dictates the City of Boston’s election policies and procedures, has already begun implementing voting reform measures such as early voting for certain elections, but MA does not currently allow for no-excuse absentee voting. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations.

Liquor Licenses: Councilor Edwards reported back on the virtual hearing on the home-rule petition sponsored by Councilor Baker to increase the number of liquor licenses available to Boston neighborhoods. The Massachusetts Restaurant Association opposed discussion of adding new liquor licenses (which they expect would destabilize existing restaurants that invested in purchasing liquor licenses) during this pandemic when so many restaurants are struggling and may not survive. Councilor Baker suggested reducing the total number of proposed new licenses from 184 to 33 to address the concerns. The Councilors mentioned that the State House has a legislative deadline in July to pass any home-rule petitions, so the Council would need to take action in the next few months, but could wait to assess the reality of the liquor license market after the pandemic eases.
FY2021 Budget: As required by City Charter, the Mayor must transmit each year’s budget to the City Council on the 2nd Wednesday of April. Today all the dockets that make up the City’s Operating Budget, Schools Budget, and Capital Budget were officially read into the record. Council hearings hosted by the Ways & Means Committee slated to begin on Monday, April 13th.

UPCOMING HEARINGS (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Zoom meetings linked below:

For complete notes of Boston City Council meetings, visit MichelleForBoston.com or sign up to receive these notes automatically.

Friday, April 17, 2020

This Week's City & State Covid 19 Updates

The City of Boston has 4,763 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive) in Boston residents. So far, 708 residents have fully recovered. There have been 122 COVID-19 related deaths in Boston residents.

We urge everyone to stay home, avoid contact with others and observe the recommended curfew of 9pm-6am. If you must go outside for an essential task, we urge you to wear a face covering and stay 6ft away from others. Make sure to wash your hands often and clean and sanitize high-contact surfaces frequently.

The City posts race and ethnicity data for deaths, as well as for confirmed cases on boston.gov/coronavirus. As of yesterday, the data shows that of the 112 deaths in Boston, where race is known, 37% are white, 32% are black, 13% are Asian or Pacific Islander, 11% are Latino, and 7% are identified as other. The City of Boston’s COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force meets regularly. They are identifying key strategies to address inequities including expanded testng, data sharing and analysis, and strengthening neighborhood outreach.

The COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force meets regularly. They are identifying key strategies to address inequities including expanded testing, data sharing and analysis, and strengthening neighborhood outreach. We are currently working with the Task Force on a webinar about COVID-19 in Haitian Creole. This is one of several efforts which allows us to reach more people, in more communities, and in more languages.

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 34,402 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive) and 1,404 deaths reported at this time. Massachusetts has also tested 148,744 individuals to date. 

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

Mayor Walsh today reminded everyone to adhere to strict social distancing through the Patriot’s Day holiday weekend. 

  • We urge folks against running the Boston Marathon route on Monday, April 20th. 
  • Besides taking away from valuable public safety resources, it’s guaranteed to lead to unnecessary exposure. 

  • The Boston Hope Medical Center at BCEC opened this past weekend. The facility has a total of 1,000 beds, including 500 for homeless patients.
  • As of Thursday evening, we have 133 patients —  including 55 homeless individuals and 78 sub-acute hospital patients. In total it has served 172 individuals including 39 who have been treated and discharged.
  • Partners HealthCare is seeking help from care providers of all types: including registered nurses, advanced practice providers, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, and providers with experience in respiratory care. Visit partners.org/bostonhope for more info.

The Department of Neighborhood Development has a partnership with Nesterly that safely matches younger adults as roommates and tenants for senior homeowners. 
  • During the outbreak, they cannot house young people with seniors, so we have pivoted to a new program called Good Neighbors, which matches volunteers with seniors who need grocery delivery, medication, or a check-in. 
  • The Age Strong Commission is helping to connect with older adults.
  • To sign up to request help, or to volunteer, go to NesterlyGoodNeighbors.com.

    Mayor Walsh announced that the Boston Resiliency Fund raised over $25 million in one month, with $12 million already out the door to local organizations.

    This week $1.7 million in new grants were announced through the Boston Resiliency Fund.
    • Latest grants will allow six more community health centers to expand testing: Mattapan; Whittier Street; Bowdoin Street; Codman Square; Uphams Corner; and DotHouse Health.
    • Other grantees include: all of the family shelters in Boston; St. Francis House; RIZE Massachusetts; The Dimock; Elevate Boston and Families for Justice as Healing; Brazilian Worker Center; Urban Guild; Mujeres Unidas Avanzando; Boston Girls Empowerment Network; Project RIGHT; Voice of Tabernacle; and Mothers for Justice and Equality.
    • The MAPFRE Foundation has committed to donating $500,000 to the City of Boston. We will use this money to buy critical supplies for medical professionals and first responders.
    • Liberty Mutual has committed $15 million in grants to Boston nonprofits. The first installment will include $1 million each for BMC, Pine Street Inn, and Boston Healthcare for the Homeless; and $500,000 each to St. Francis House, Friends of Boston’s Homeless, and the Greater Boston Food Bank. This is in addition to $1 million that Liberty Mutual contributed to the Boston Resiliency Fund.
    We continue to accept donations at Boston.gov/BostonResiliencyFund.


      As of April 13th, Boston Public Schools has distributed 28,000 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 400,000 meals since schools have closed. BPS is also delivering meals to homes of students with special needs.

      Free breakfast and lunch will be provided throughout the school closure including April 20th (Patriots’ Day) and April 21st-24th (April vacation)


      Yesterday, my colleagues and I called on the federal government to authorize Massachusetts SNAP and EBT cards to be used for online grocery purchases with an official Senate Resolution, ensuring that low-income families have equal access resources, and don't have to chose between staying home and getting food and  basic necessities.This is part of a continued effort to place equity
      at the center of our response to COVID19, and make sure we are doing everything we can to address and disrupt patterns of inequity in outcomes and access to care.

      The Department of Public Health issued a Public Health Advisory that, consistent with CDC guidance, recommends that people wear a mask or cover their face in public when they cannot safely socially distance. For example, members of the public will be advised to wear something to cover their face in public places like supermarkets and pharmacies. You can read the guidance here.

      Verizon has announced that if a customer is experiencing hardship because of COVID-19 and cannot pay their bill in full, Verizon will not charge a late fee or terminate service during this difficult period. To qualify, see hereCustomers may also contact Verizon at 1-800-VERIZON (1-800-837-4966).  Answers to frequently asked questions.

      The latest DPH report with updated statewide numbers and information can be found here

      Related Posts

      Thursday, April 16, 2020

      Fort Point Channel Watersheet Activation Grantees Announced

      The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA), a member of the Fort Point Channel Operations Board (FPCOB), awarded four grants totaling over $50,000 to art, education and community organizations with plans for activating the Fort Point Channel watersheet for the 2020 season.
      Grant applicants were asked to submit creative proposals for water-based programming in and around Fort Point that will benefit the general public, including such things as public events, art installations, and educational opportunities.
      The four grantees are proven non-profit organizations that have successfully delivered waterfront activation programs in the past. They fulfill many of the grant criteria, including equity and inclusion by introducing Boston students to the beauty of our waterfront, year-round activation through public programming and art installations and activation of the watersheet itself through boat programs.

      The grant program builds on the goals of the Fort Point Watersheet Activation Plan, a BPDA planning process that involved local residents, business owners and stakeholders to create a vision for Fort Point channel as a location for public activation and use. The Fort Point Channel Watersheet Activation Grant Program is funded by the Chapter 91 Waterways Regulations License for Atlantic Wharf, developed by Boston Properties.

      2020 Winning Projects

      Fort Point Arts Community 2020 Floating Public Art Series

      Applicant: Fort Point Arts Community (FPAC)
      Award: $16,000
      Building on the successful growth of FPAC’s Floating Art Program, this funding will bring two new and engaging temporary floating public art projects to the Fort Point Channel and Harborwalk in 2021. These public art projects will continue to increase the visibility of Fort Point as a cultural destination.

      Boston Rowing Center Adult Rowing and Lunchtime Livery Program

      Applicant: Hull Lifesaving Museum
      Award: $12,000
      The Hull Lifesaving Museum will use this grant to continue bringing participants to their Boston Rowing Center in Fort Point Channel for fitness, exploration and community, beginning with the annual Fort Point Open Rowing Race and continuing through the year with weekly adult rowing outings. New this year, the Hull Lifesaving Museum has begun a series of workshops for adult rowing members to learn more about boating safety, navigation, and Boston’s maritime heritage.

      Brown Box Theatre Project 2020-2021 Season: Much Ado About Nothing

      Applicant: Brown Box Theatre Project
      Award: $13,000
      As part of the Brown Box Theatre Project’s tenth season of free theater on the Fort Point Channel, the organization will present Much Ado About Nothing for their annual Shakespeare offering. The grant will also help fund two additional productions as part of the 2021 season, which have yet to be determined.

      Discovering Fort Point Channel

      Applicant: “e”, Inc.
      Award: $9,692
      For the past six summers, “e” inc., a planet science learning and action center, has used this grant funding to provide free daily field trips to Fort Point Channel for youth from various urban summer camps and social service centers to enjoy hands-on science lessons on the Fort Point Channel in July and August.