Important Coronavirus Update #10 | 4/03/2020

COVID19 CASES

The City of Boston has 1,233 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive) in Boston residents. So far, 106 of these 1,233 residents have fully recovered. There have been 10 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 8,966 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive) and 154 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 to opt-in for English. Language and communications access remains a priority for Mayor Walsh, so this text service is also available in Spanish, Haitan Creole, French, Cabo Verdean Creole, and Portuguese. 

  • Text BOSEspanol for Spanish
  • Text BOSKreyol for Haitian Kreyol
  • Text BOSFrancais for French
  • Text BOSKriolu for Cabo Verdean Creole
  • Text BOSPortugues for Portuguese

Updates in 10 total languages can additionally be accessed through boston.gov/coronavirus#multilingual-help. Each language has its own page and hosts multilingual print materials distributed citywide. 

PHYSICAL DISTANCING NOW

A surge in cases in Massachusetts is expected during the month of April, and the next few weeks will be critical in terms of physical distancing and slowing the spread of the virus as much as possible. Residents are urged to stay home and avoid contact with others whenever they can, stay at least 6 feet from other people at all times, and wash their hands and clean and sanitize surfaces frequently. Mayor Walsh is asking everyone to do their part so we can mitigate the impact of the expected surge. Please help the City of Boston communicate this critical message to friends, neighbors and your networks. 

HOMELESS SERVICES AND HOSPITAL CAPACITY

On April 2nd, Mayor Walsh announced that construction begins at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to add 500 beds for treating homeless adults who have tested positive for COVID-19 and need care, but do not require full hospitalization. 

  • The City has released a Request for Proposals to secure a partner organization to operate the facility. If necessary, the Convention Center beds will be opened up for hospitals to use for sub-acute COVID patients in the general population.
  • These 500 beds will bring Boston’s total number of new beds for homeless individuals to over 1,000. This includes Boston Medical Center’s Newton Pavilion facility, which the City and State are working to re-purpose as a medical facility for homeless residents affected by the coronavirus.

SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT

On April 2nd, Mayor Walsh announced two new resources that will help small businesses during the public health crisis. 

  • The City of Boston has created a Small Business Relief Fund. Drawing on a combination of City, federal, and private industry contributions, it establishes $2 million in grant funding—capable of providing a lifeline to hundreds of local businesses at risk of shutting down permanently due to the crisis. It will be administered as a streamlined version of the City’s Small Business Financing program. Small businesses can begin applying on Monday, April 6. 
  • The City of Boston has also created a Financial Relief Handbook and FAQ document for small businesses. It’s a resource for navigating both public and private capital programs. It puts information and guidance about all the different programs together in one place.

HOUSING SUPPORT

On April 2nd, The Mayor announced a new fund to help tenants who fall behind on rent in Boston because of the public health crisis. 

  • The City of Boston has identified at least $3 million in City and federal funds that can be repurposed quickly to help tenants who can’t make their rent. This money will be targeted to households that have lost income due to the crisis, and who do not qualify for enough federal relief or unemployment benefits to make it up. The Office of Housing Stability will use its existing networks to get this help to where it’s needed, quickly and fairly. Email housingstability@boston.gov  to learn more.
  • The Mayor also expressed his support of state legislation that will put a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures throughout the state of emergency.

VETERANS

The City of Boston has been reaching out to veterans service providers and residential homes in Boston, to help them mitigate any risk and address concerns they have. Veterans and their family members can call 311 or email veterans@boston.gov to be connected to the City’s Office of Veterans Services.

The City of Boston has also created a Pen Pal Program for veterans who may be feeling social isolation. We are working to identify those veterans now, and match them with volunteers who will check in with them periodically.
 If you would like to volunteer to be a penpal, please email vetvolunteer@boston.gov.

STATE OF MA UPDATES

On April 2nd, Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring 
all coastal beach reservation parking areas managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to close effective 12 PM on Friday, April 3 to reduce large concentrations of people at beaches during the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • Additionally, effective 12 PM on Friday, April 3, DCR will open select seasonal state parks early and expand access at other parks to provide additional open space opportunities for residents to enjoy and alternatives to popular state parks throughout the Commonwealth.
  • Coastal parkways that provide access to state beaches will also be closed to both parking and dropping off passengers. State beaches will remain open and available to pedestrians for transitory use only (walking, jogging, biking, solitary fishing, etc.).
  • State parks and associated parking areas remain open at this time; however, the public is asked to visit state parks and other open space properties that are located near their homes to ensure social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19. DCR recently developed a Massachusetts State Parks COVID-19 Updates webpage.

On March 31st, Governor Baker announced the extension of the Stay at Home Advisory until May 4th. 

  • Non-essential business closures are extended until May 4th, in effect at noon tomorrow (April 1).
  • The 10-person limit on social gatherings is extended to May 4th.
  • All state employees performing non-core functions who are able to work remotely should continue to do so until May 4.
  • Essential businesses will continue to operate, as well as restaurants offering takeout/delivery that abide by social distancing/state guidelines. Additional information can be found here

LODGING LICENSED ESTABLISHMENTS

On March 31st, Governor Baker announced new guidance from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services regarding hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, lodging houses, and short-term rentals (“Lodging Units”) and in what instances Lodging Units are deemed to be providing a COVID-19 Essential Service. See here for full details

  • Lodging Units include all hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, lodging houses rented for a period of 31 days or fewer, professionally-managed units rented for a period of 31 days or fewer, and short-term rentals (including AirBnB, VRBO, and similar rental properties) rented for a period of 31 days or fewer.
  • Lodging Units may only be offered or operated for efforts related to COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the ongoing public health crisis such as providing housing for first responders and health care workers or for Massachusetts residents who have been displaced by COVID-19. Lodging Units may not be offered or operated for any purpose other than those deemed a COVID-19 Essential Service by the State of Massachusetts. This means that Lodging Units may not be offered or operated for vacation, leisure, or other similar purposes.

CITY OF BOSTON COVID19 OPERATIONS

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.

The following departments have moved to by appointment only: 

  • Registry
  • Parking Clerk
  • Age Strong
  • Elections
  • City Clerk 
  • Assessing
  • Collecting
  • Bid counter for Public Facilities 
  • Inspectional Services Department

If constituents would like to schedule an appointment at these departments, they should reach out via phone or email. Department contacts can be found on boston.gov.

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.

BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS:

Boston Public Schools closure has been extended to May 4th. The City of Boston, in partnership with Project Bread, YMCA of Greater Boston, Boston Centers for Youth and Families, and other community organizations, has been providing free meals to all youth and teens at various locations and times across the City. Learn more about meal distribution locations here. We have served over 100,000 meals since this program began last week, averaging 13,000 meals per day.

Boston Public Schools is partnering with Catie’s Closet to continue to provide wrap around care for families. Last year we announced free menstrual products for students and BPS will still have them available throughout the school closure. Catie’s Closet has supplied 500 toiletry packages to each of our 16 BPS emergency meal sites. 

Meal Distribution sites in Mattapan and some in Dorchester include:

Gallivan BCYF61 Woodruff Way, Mattapan, MA 021269:00AM-3:00PM
Mattahunt BCYF100 Hebron St, Mattapan MA 0212610:00AM-3:00PM
Faith Christian Church21 Harvard Street, Dorchester MA 021248:00AM-12:00PM
Lee School155 Talbot Ave, Boston, MA 021248:30 AM- 11:30AM
Mildred Ave5 Mildred Ave, Mattapan, MA 021268:30 AM- 11:30AM

See all meal sites in Boston at boston.gov/BPS-meal-sites.

Chromebooks: As part of our efforts to continue serving our students, Boston Public Schools are providing Chromebooks to students who do not have consistent access to a computer at home. Parents can fill out this application and email their school principal to receive an appointment time to pick up their student’s device to avoid creating crowds. To date we have distributed 20,724 laptops to BPS students. 

CONSTRUCTION

Due to the public health emergency caused by the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Walsh announced that he is extending the City of Boston’s order to pause non-essential construction for City of Boston permitted sites. The initial order announced on March 16th was set for 14 days and will now continue until further notice. Additional information can be found here

HIRING BPHC POSITIONS

The City is actively hiring candidates for critical positions such as homeless counselors, recovery services, public health advocates and public safety officers. Please go to bphc.org for job listings.

HELP COVID-19 EFFORTS

  • Stay home. If you must go outside, practice physical distancing from others (6 feet apart); avoid crowded places.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol; avoid shaking hands
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes; clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces; and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you think you might be sick, please call your doctor or 311 to be connected to the Mayor’s Health Line 617-534-5050. Buoy Health has created a free online diagnostic tool which screens for COVID19 at buoy.com/mass.
  • Donate supplies to first responders here
  • Donate to the City of Boston Resiliency Fund here
  • Volunteer with the City of Boston here 
  • Fill out the 2020 Census. The 2020 Census is happening now and only 26.4 percent of Boston households have responded. The Census informs how billions of dollars in federal funds will be allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers annually for the next 10 years. It’s more critical than ever to ensure that all Bostonians are counted. 

STAY INFORMED

Receive the latest COVID19 info from reliable sources. Visit: bphc.org/coronavirus; boston.gov/coronavirus; mass.gov/2019coronavirus. Call: 311 or 211