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.

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