COVID-19 End of Week Update + Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) 4/26/20
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to rise, we collectively grieve as a society for those we've lost. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost someone to this insidious virus, including our U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and now at least five of my colleagues in the MA House of Representatives.
While our hearts are heavy with sadness, simultaneously, they're also filled with gratitude for our health care professionals and first responders on the front lines, and to all who are working to ensure we have access to food and other essentials.
Please continue to rely on trusted sources and practice physical distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. As we continue to administer more tests around the city and the commonwealth, I encourage you to keep the faith and remember people can and do recover. For instance, our own Department of Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel is back to work after recovering from the virus.
Finally, as the Governor said on Saturday, any decision made about reopening businesses will first require a drop in people being hospitalized for the disease and "some evidence that we’re over the hump" with respect to the surge, and secondly, that we have rules for engagement and reopening in place, which we’ll talk more about next week.
To those who celebrate, have a blessed Ramadan.
State Representative, 11th Suffolk
P.S. Help support contact tracing efforts and answer calls with 833 or 857 area codes from the MA COVIDTeam.
To read the Commonwealth’s Command Center Daily Updates: www.replizmalia.org
How to Help Out
If you're healthy and up to it, please consider donating blood. Appointments are required and you can find the nearest drive here. Additionally, your local knowledge, suggestions of sites, and potential partners are crucial to meeting the needs of our neighbors who need blood and blood products. To schedule a new blood drive contact Bill Forsyth at 617-699-3808 or at email William.Forsyth@redcross.org.
Donate to the MA COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Volunteer opportunities for health professionals. MA Responds is a centralized volunteer management system designed to enhance the state’s ability to prepare for and respond to health related emergencies and events. *All levels of volunteers, clinical or non-clinical, active or retired, are needed.
Volunteer for the new Community Tracing Collaborative by visiting the PIH Ma-Response page or DIRECT link to recruiter web.
Donate or sell personal protective equipment.
Health care facilities can learn more about requesting personal protective equipment.
Apply for Jobs at COVID-19 Temporary Care Sites.
Need help but don't know where to start? For all the immediate resources in your area: helpsteps.com
4/20 - Pandemic Unemployment Assistance application portal became live (10 days ahead of schedule)
This federal unemployment program (under the CARES Act) is for individuals who are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others who would not ordinarily qualify for unemployment benefits. *If you didn’t make (via W2) $5,100 in the last 15 weeks, you should apply.*
Applicants will need to provide the following information:
Your social security number
If you are not a citizen of the United States, your A Number (USCIS Number)
Your residential address
Your mailing address (if different from residential address)
Your telephone number
Your email address
Your birth date
Your wage records for 2019, which includes:
The social security number(s) and date(s) of birth for your dependent child(ren)
If you want to use direct deposit for payment, your bank account and routing numbers
For more information on eligibility, please view the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Guide.
The program will provide up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits. Once claims are filed, processed, and individuals are deemed eligible, benefits will be paid retroactively beginning February 2, 2020, or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19, whichever date is later. The last week this benefit is payable is the week ending December 26, 2020.
* People traditionally ineligible for unemployment benefits may be self-employed, gig workers, or independent contractors. Other examples include earning less than $5100 in the last year, or having no right to regular unemployment, either because you were denied, or you worked for a religious organization.
** This group may qualify for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation at a later date (in a couple of weeks once the DUA receives federal guidance to be able to set it up). That’s the 13 week extension for people who were previously collecting unemployment but have used up all of their benefits, or whose benefit year ended after July 1, 2019. For more information visit mass.gov/dua
Filing for UI benefits by phone is based on the last digit of your Social Security Number.
0,1 file on Monday | 2,3 file on Tuesday | 4,5,6 file on Wednesday | 7,8,9 file on Thursday | Any digit file on Friday
*NOTE*: If you accidentally applied for regular UI and you haven't been denied yet, the DUA is working hard to quickly process denials to clear the path for pending PUA applications to become successful.
4/21 - The Governor announced all schools in MA are closed for the balance of the school year, and non-emergency child care centers will remain closed through June 29, 2020. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will issue guidelines for schools to support remote learning efforts throughout the school year, including expanded STEM learning.
4/21 - The MA Department of Higher Education is deferring scheduled repayments for its No-Interest Loan Program for a duration of four months to support relief efforts during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
4/21 - The US Department of Agriculture approved MA to operate Pandemic EBT (P-EBT). This additional food assistance will provide much needed relief for the approximately 500,000 Massachusetts students who have lost access to free or reduced-price meals during school closures.
4/22 - The Baker Administration announced expanded access to high-speed internet for unserved cities and towns throughout MA that do not yet have a completed last-mile broadband network. These communities will get a temporary 250 megabit per second wireless hotspot, allowing increased broadband access for residents, families, and students impacted by COVID-19.
4/22 - The Baker Administration announced the Community Health Care Center COVID-19 Testing initiative in partnership with Quest Diagnostics and Mass League of Community Health Centers. Community health centers in areas of high need with the ability to increase testing capacities will receive test kids from Quest. These will increase testing capacity for community health facilities located in Boston, Lowell, Quincy, Fall River, Provincetown, and Worcester.
4/22 - The MA Department of Early Education and Care, in partnership with the WGBH Educational Foundation, has created a media-rich website of educational resources to help support adults who teach, nurture, and care for children from birth to age five. These resources were developed by a team of early childhood experts, educators, and parents and they are available in both Spanish and English.
4/23 - If you need treatment for issues other than COVID-19, such as cancer, heart, kidney conditions, and other illnesses, healthcare professionals are urging you to continue to seek care.
4/23 - The Trial Courts have adapted their policies and practices to protect court staff and the public while maintaining access to justice for emergency situations. Some steps taken include: systems for judges and clerks to remotely hear emergency cases and matters, issuing Standing Orders establishing operation protocols, establish a help line for general inquiries by the public, and developing a robust Resource Guide for those struggled with substance use disorder or mental health issues.
*NOTE*: The public can call to ask general questions about their civil and criminal cases and help them navigate the court system while the court system remains closed to the public except for emergency matters. The Help Line will be staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and can be reached by calling 833-91COURT.
4/24 - The COVID-19 Command Center has a web page with guidance for prioritizing and optimizing use of Personal Protective Equipment. The page includes guidance on use of N95 and KN95 masks from both the Department of Public Health and MEMA.
4/24 - The state filed two waiver requests with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These waivers would expand Medicare telehealth coverage to include services provided by phone and video, extend retroactive coverage for those who qualify for MassHealth to allow them to be covered up to 90 days before submitting their application, provide flexibility for federal provider payment limits, and ease provider requirements that could result in unnecessary administrative burdens or barriers to care.
4/24 - The MBTA is opening up the RIDE services to personal care attendants. Users of the RIDE will be able to book these trips for their PCAs as capacity allows. Those interested in booking rides for their PCAs can call the Access Center at (844) 427-7433.
4/24 - MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Riley sent out updated guidance on remote learning and the length of the school year to school districts. Districts that continued remote learning through April vacation will finish school on the 181st day, and schools that kept April vacation will finish school on the 185th day.
4/25 - Governor stated May 4, the date at which the stay at home advisory and mandatory closure of non-essential businesses is set to lift, is not the key metric for determining when the state will lift its emergency restrictions, and that there will be more information on this next week.
On Monday 4/20, Governor Baker signed into law a temporary moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.
Summary of major points:
A moratorium on all stages of the eviction and foreclosure processes for 120 days from the enactment of the legislation or 45 days after the State of Emergency has been lifted, whichever period of time is shorter. Prohibits all non-essential evictions for residential properties and small businesses.
Prohibits residential landlords from terminating tenancy and sending a notice to quit.
Halts landlords from issuing late fees and reports to credit agencies for nonpayment of rent, provided that a tenant offers notice and documentation to the landlord within 30 days of the missed rent payment that the non-payment was related to a financial impact from COVID-19.
Allows for video or telephone conferencing during the State of Emergency for reverse mortgage loans in lieu of in-person counseling until the State of Emergency order is lifted.
Evictions may proceed during the moratorium for actions that involve allegations of criminal activity or lease violations that are detrimental to public health or public safety.
Requires mortgage lenders to grant a forbearance of up to 180-days on required mortgage payments if homeowner submits request demonstrating financial hardship as result of COVID-19.
Allows landlords to use a tenant’s last month rent for expenses like mortgages payments and property maintenance, while protecting tenant rights regarding rent paid in advance.
For small business and nonprofit guidance relative to this new law, read The Coalition's analysis here: https://www.covidreliefcoalition.com/en/sources-of-relief
Bills on Governor Desk
H.4503 strengthening the local and regional public health system. The bill would direct the Department of Public Health to "develop a set of minimum standards for foundational public health services for the commonwealth," and establish a "state action for public health excellence program" that would encourage local boards of health to adopt certain practices. The state would then provide funding to local boards through a competitive grant program.
S.2645 providing for virtual notarization to address challenges related to COVID-19. The legislation gives notaries public the power to conduct certain business by video conference. Notaries in Massachusetts would be permitted to perform "an acknowledgement, affirmation or other notarial act" through real-time videoconference rather than an in-person transaction for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. The principals and notaries involved in the transactions must be located in Massachusetts, and principals must also provide evidence to confirm their identities.
Passed House, and Heading to the Senate
On Tuesday 4/21, the MA House of Representatives passed legislation that would require long-term care and housing facilities to report and track COVID-19 positive cases and deaths to public health officials. On Thursday 4/23, the House passed two pieces of legislation to address the disparate effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency on underserved communities and communities of color. The first bill establishes a task force to study and make policy recommendations to address current disparities in the health care system for underserved or underrepresented cultural, ethnic, and linguistic populations as well as people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The second bill requires DPH to collect and report daily COVID-19 testing, testing results, hospitalizations, mortalities, and related demographic information including but not limited to race, gender, and ethnicity. The data collection component both goes further than existing collection measures and ensures that the standards are enshrined in statute. The new information will help to inform policy development for those communities which are underserved during the health emergency and anticipate which communities need additional support.
Passed Senate, and Heading to the House
S.2647 providing assistance to vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 emergency. The bill would ban the Department of Transitional Assistance from denying family or individual assistance under the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) programs because "countable resources" exceed allowable limits.
Passed Both Branches, But Needs Additional Votes:
S.2651, the latest Senate version of legislation providing additional support to those affected by the novel coronavirus through the unemployment insurance system. Senate Ways and Means Chairman Sen. Michael Rodrigues said Thursday this version seeks to balance the House's approach to providing additional UI benefits for claimants with dependents -- increasing the amount per dependent from $25 to $40 -- and the Senate's preferred approach -- eliminating the dependency cap. Rodrigues said the latest version would put in place the increased $40 dependency allowance for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, then six months later would eliminate the dependency cap. The branches still need to give final approval to legislation that has been modified as it advances.
~ State House News Service, Advances - Week of April 26
Early Education Update
Currently, there are 523 emergency exempt providers that have been approved by the Department of Early Education and Care since 3/23/20, serving an average of 2,500 children per week. Commissioner Aigner-Treworgy announced yesterday that these subsidies will continue to be paid to providers in order to support their workforce. Should non-essential businesses open before then, EEC is in the process of developing a thoughtful plan to phase-in childcare in a way that is aligned with reopening businesses and the economy across the Commonwealth.
Additionally there are partnerships that EEC has developed in order to assist early educators, families and children during this difficult time.
For early educators
EEC has partnered with Care.com to create a portal specifically for Massachusetts essential workers and early educators. Essential workers looking for in-home child care will be able to find eligible EEC-licensed, certified, or approved educators who are currently not working and may provide skilled in-home care. This will help educators get connected to alternative employment opportunities they are qualified for, help identify additional resources for children and families with unique needs (e.g., children with disabilities), and further support essential workers. Massachusetts essential workforce families get 90-day free subscription to Care.com to use this service.
Technical Assistance for Businesses
EEC has partnered with the Children’s Investment Fund to provide technical assistance to providers seeking to better understand the business supports available at both the state and federal level. This support—including legal and accounting resources—will be tailored to the businesses in the child care field to help providers navigate this crisis and be prepared to serve families.
Resources for Early Learning for Educators & Families
EEC, in partnership with the WGBH Educational Foundation, has created this media-rich site of educational resources to help support adults who teach, nurture, and care for children from birth to age five. These resources were developed by a team of early childhood experts, educators, and parents and they are available in both Spanish and English. To access these resources, please click here.
In light of Governor Baker's announcement that schools will remain closed for the duration of the academic year, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is in the process of developing additional remote learning guidance for districts.
Food Security Update
The Governor and the Commonwealth's COVID Command Center invited state agencies, statewide partners and advocacy organizations that serve vulnerable populations to partner on a Food Security Task Force. They are charged with improving access to nutritious food, and finding solutions at all points in our complex food supply chains. I'm grateful to my colleagues, Senator Comerford and Representative Kane, for spearheading the data-gathering phase of the Task Force's work. I shared a quick roundup of your ideas last week, but rebuilding our food system is a long-term job. I will continue to ask those of you working in farming and food policy, equity, and environmental justice to share your best ideas so that we can elevate sound policies to the Task Force.
House Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Initiative Update
If you or someone you know is at risk for sexual and domestic violence, service providers are still accessible. Find local services here. You can also call SafeLink, the statewide domestic violence hotline, at 1-877-785-2020. SafeLink can provide resources and support services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Trial Court COVID-19 Resources for Abuse Protection Orders and Harassment Prevention Orders
On Sunday, April 26, 2020, Mayor Walsh together with Dr. Peter Slavin, President of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) announced that approximately 1,000 residents in the City of Boston will be invited to participate in a study to evaluate community exposure to COVID-19 through antibody testing. The sampling will focus on residents living in East Boston, Roslindale and within the boundaries of zip codes 02121 and 02125 in Dorchester. Outreach to residents in those areas began today.
As part of the study, MGH will collect data of 1,000 asymptomatic Boston residents this week by administering testing for both the COVID-19 virus and the COVID-19 antibodies. Testing for COVID-19 virus is done by means of a swab of the nose and determines if you have the infection. Antibody testing is done by means of blood drawn through a finger prick and detects whether your blood has antibodies that are present when the body is responding to an infection, like COVID-19. Any resident who tests positive for the COVID-19 virus or the COVID-19 antibodies will be provided with clear guidance and information on how to care for themselves and those around them.
This randomized testing is critical, as the CDC estimates that nationally 25 percent of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, and may not know they are a carrier of the virus, or that they could be infecting others.
Participation in the study is entirely voluntary for residents who have been contacted, is available to them on a first come, first serve basis up to 1,000 residents, and residents will not be charged for testing. Testing for this study is expected to be completed by May 1, and summary data of the the compiled results will be made publicly available, including the numbers and percentage of residents who test positive for the COVID-19 virus and COVID-19 antibodies, both within the neighborhoods included and the total study group tested. In accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), no personal information from any participants will be shared.
This announcement builds on Mayor Walsh's commitment to increase access to testing for Boston residents, which will allow for better understanding of the spread and inform a path to recovery. In the last week alone, Boston has had a 30 percent increase in the amount of testing happening citywide, making a concerted effort in the hardest-hit areas. For example, in the last week, Hyde Park had a 57 percent increase in testing, Mattapan had a 35 percent increase in testing, and the hardest-hit parts of Dorchester had a 37 percent increase in testing.
Mayor’s 4/24 Update
Case numbers as of Thursday, April 23:
Massachusetts: 46,023 cases and 2,360 deaths.
Boston: 6,958 cases, 232 deaths, 1,363 recoveries.
Appointment of Fire Commissioner John Dempsey:
The Mayor announced he has appointed John Dempsey to the permanent post of Fire Commissioner for the City of Boston.
Commissioner Dempsey is a 35-year veteran of the Boston Fire Department who has risen through the ranks of leadership. He was appointed to the interim position in early March, just before the acceleration of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Mayor noted that Commissioner Dempsey has approached this unprecedented crisis with professionalism and decisiveness. By quickly implementing safety protocols, cleaning upgrades, and Personal Protective Equipment, he has kept firefighters safe and the Department fully operational in serving the people of Boston.
Update on testing access:
The Mayor reiterated that increased testing for COVID-19 is a City priority. Testing helps us better understand how many people are infected and where; allows us to direct medical resources more efficiently and equitably; tells us more about how the virus behaves and what we can expect moving forward; and is necessary before steps can be taken toward reopening and recovery.
He repeated his call for the federal government to make a strong commitment to testing resources and access.
He provided an update on our work expanding testing access in Boston.
The Boston Resiliency Fund has used over $760,000 to expand testing at nine community health centers in East Boston, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury.
We’ve granted an additional $270,000 for telehealth services and equipment at those community health centers, to connect testing to treatment options.
We now have 15 testing sites in the City of Boston. That includes 10 operated by community health centers and 5 operated by hospitals.
Residents are reminded to call ahead for pre-screening and to schedule an appointment.
The Boston Public Health Commission is now sharing testing data at the neighborhood level.
In the last week, we’ve had a 30% increase in the amount of testing citywide, and larger increases in the areas hardest hit by infection.
Hyde Park has had a 57% increase in testing.
Mattapan has had a 35% increase in testing.
The hardest-hit zip codes in Dorchester saw a 37% increase in testing.
The goal is for every community health center to provide testing for residents.
The Mayor also reminded residents that testing is free and you will not be asked about your immigration status at a testing site.
Update on testing and care for people experiencing homelessness:
Our goal is to test everyone who uses emergency shelters in Boston, in order to limit the spread of the virus and care for this vulnerable population.
As of yesterday, 1,340 shelter guests have been tested. Roughly one third of those have tested positive.
The Mayor announced that the City has secured 1,000 additional tests, which will allow universal testing for guests in our shelter system, in addition to some shelter staff.
The tests are being donated by a Boston company called Orig3n.
The testing will be done over the next two weeks, led by Boston Health Care for the Homeless in coordination with the Boston Public Health Commission, St. Francis House, and the Pine Street Inn.
Individuals who test positive will receive the care and support they need to recover.
Individuals who test negative will be placed in designated areas to allow for better physical distancing to prevent transmission.
Reminder to landlords and tenants that immigration status does not affect a tenant’s rights:
The Mayor heard concerns about this issue, given the financial challenges many are facing and despite the halt on eviction proceedings in Boston and statewide.
If you are a tenant who feels threatened, stay in your home and call 3-1-1. There are laws in place to protect you.
The Office of Fair Housing and the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement can provide advice and support.
Update to small business regulations:
The City is now allowing restaurants to sell grocery items, including produce, paper products, and more.
This step will help restaurants and it may cut down on customers’ essential trips outside the home.
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.
To get started, restaurants should submit a Health Safety and Operations Plan to the Licensing Board.
For more information, go to Boston.gov/coronavirus.
Reminder to practice social distancing while shopping and respect grocery workers’ safety:
Everyone must wear masks or face coverings in grocery stores, to help protect fellow shoppers and especially the workers.
Dispose of all face coverings, masks, and gloves appropriately, and do not throw them on the ground, outside of stores or anywhere.
General social distancing reminder:
Continue to stay home whenever possible, practice distancing and wear face coverings outside the house, wash your hands, and clean and disinfect surfaces.
Mayor’s 4/22 Update
Update on case numbers:
As of Tuesday, April 21, in Massachusetts: there had been 41,199 cases of coronavirus and 1,961 deaths. As of Tuesday, April 21 in Boston: there had been 6,010 cases, 1,142 recoveries, and 196 deaths.
Importance of social distancing:
The Mayor stressed that efforts by the City and residents are making a difference to flatten the curve, conserve medical resources, and reduce infections.
He said that Boston still has not yet reached its peak in cases, so these steps are more critical than ever. He urged people to continue staying home whenever possible, practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings, washing hands, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces regularly.
He reminded residents to wear face coverings in common areas of apartment buildings, and especially while riding buses and trains. This is crucial in order to protect MBTA drivers and other employees, who put their own health and safety on the line every day.
Extension of school building closures:
Mayor Walsh expressed support for the Governor’s decision to keep school buildings closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
The City of Boston has been preparing for the likelihood of this happening. BPS has been making plans to expand at-home learning opportunities, and will be sharing more information about this next phase of remote learning after April vacation.
The City is continuing to operate meal pick-up sites and providing Chromebooks and WiFi hotspots. Every day, the city is distributing thousands of free meals at 65 locations across the City, and making home deliveries for students with severe special needs. These services are continuing right now, throughout April school vacation week, and for as long as it takes. Information about all these resources is available at Boston.gov/coronavirus.
Emergency childcare programs, including nearly 40 in Boston, will continue to operate for first responders and other essential workers. You can find the list at Boston.gov/emergencychildcare.
High school seniors:
The Mayor offered a message of support to graduating high school seniors. He acknowledged how difficult it is to miss out on prom, senior week, spring sports and arts programs, and in-person graduation ceremonies.
He congratulated these students for all they have accomplished, and reminded them that their city is very proud of them.
Expanding access to testing:
The Mayor reiterated that before any discussions of reopening schools and businesses can happen, there needs to be a clear public health criteria for what steps should be taken, and when. The City is developing such parameters.
A fundamental requirement for making progress in public health is a significant increase in testing.
The City continues to expand testing access throughout Boston’s neighborhoods. The Testing Access Map is available at bphc.org.
The City of Boston will be full partners in the State’s contact tracing initiative and has begun to support that work at health centers in Boston.
Mayor Walsh urges the Federal government to make testing a priority.
Boston Resiliency Fund:
Mayor Walsh announced the fourth round of funding through the Boston Resiliency Fund.
$1.7 million in funds will be distributed to support 21 organizations in Boston.
This round will support: community health centers, veterans, individuals experiencing homelessness, neighborhoods experiencing higher case rates, and Boston’s Muslim community during Ramadan, which starts tomorrow. It will also go towards personal protective equipment for frontline and essential workers.
So far, including this newest round, the fund has distributed $13.8 million to 135 organizations. To date, more than 4,200 donors have contributed over $26 million to the fund.
Contributions of immigrant communities
The Mayor closed by reiterating his support for immigrants in Boston and across America.
He stressed that immigrants need and deserve support right now. They are on the frontlines fighting the coronavirus: they are health aides, nurses, physicians and surgeons, and they are essential to our food service industry.
In Boston, 46% of accommodation and food workers are foreign-born, with close to 25% of undocumented population working in this industry.
Immigrants make up nearly 26% of Boston’s workforce--and are 35% of health care workers, 40% of construction workers, and 41% of hospitality workers.
Mayor Walsh stressed that the region’s economy depends on immigrants and that he continues to stand with our immigrant communities.
Making sure our immigrant workforce is healthy and financially stable during this pandemic will help our economic recovery efforts happen more quickly.
He also wished a blessed Ramadan to Boston’s Muslim community.
As the Mayor mentioned during his press briefing, he released a video on how to make your own face covering on Twitter today. I encourage you to take a look and share.
Mayor’s 4/20 Update
Update on case numbers:
As of Sunday, April 19, in Massachusetts: 38,077 cases of coronavirus and 1,706 deaths. In Boston: 5,516 cases, 954 recoveries, and 175 deaths.
Precautions during Patriots’ Day:
The Mayor continued to remind everyone to not run the Marathon course, since it would draw important resources from public safety agencies, and it could lead to an increase in exposures. So far, the BAA has been reporting very little activity on the Marathon route today, which means people are listening and doing the right thing.
Social distancing reminder in public spaces:
The Mayor urges everyone to continue social and physical distancing, especially in public spaces.
Yesterday, groups were playing golf at the Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park and the George Wright course in Hyde Park even though the courses are closed. Boston Police had to come and tell them to leave. The City will not hesitate to send police officers to deliver the message and, if necessary, deliver citations.
Boston Hope Medical Center update:
As of Sunday (4/19) night, there were 162 total patients being treated, including 86 on the hospital side and 76 on the respite side for homeless individuals. In all, Boston Hope has served over 250 patients.
Because of the City’s ongoing work and the support of partnerships at Boston Hope and other facilities across the City, Boston has the capacity to shelter and treat every single homeless individual safely.
Update on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
Today, the City started a program of decontaminating N95 masks used by first responders.
Batelle and Partners Health have given the City access to the decontamination facility in Somerville. It will take pressure off sourcing PPE for police, fire, and EMS, as well as in the larger system of supply chains that the medical system is drawing on.
Update on testing access:
The City has been working with hospitals and community health centers across the city to create and expand testing sites.
The City created a Testing Access Map to make it easier for residents to find and contact a testing site near them. It includes locations, hours, and phone numbers and websites of testing locations. It will be updated as new testing sites come online. The goal is to have every community health center able to provide testing to residents in the neighborhood.
Starting today, the City will be able to start sharing data on testing at the neighborhood level. New reports will include the number of people tested, and positive testing rates, for each neighborhood.
Expanding the citywide text message service:
Starting today, the citywide text message alert service has expanded from 6 languages to 11 languages. Those who have signed up already should continue to get text messages.
For those who haven’t signed up yet, residents should text BOSCOVID to the new number: 888-777. Codes for 10 other languages can be found at boston.gov/coronavirus.
The Mayor reminded everyone to only rely on trusted sources during this public health crisis. Recently the City has been alerted to scams targeting small businesses with claims about Small Business Association loans and grants.
The City is providing information and resources to help everyone protect themselves, including a comprehensive guide to the new federal resources which gets updates as new information comes out. Residents can visit boston.gov/smallbusiness or call 3-1-1 to get accurate information, and if they think they have been the target or victim of a scam attempt, they can call 9-1-1.
Food resources for all residents:
All of our 65 youth meal sites remain open during April school vacation week. After Friday’s distribution, the City has served up to a total of 438,000 meals since schools closed.
Starting today, the City has opened 6 new meal sites that serve all residents in East Boston, Dorchester, South Boston, Roxbury, Mattapan, and Brighton. They can serve up to 2,500 meals a day.
For hours and locations, visit our Food Resources Map or call 3-1-1.
Response to recent acts of violence:
This past week, there have been terrible acts of violence involving young people. The Mayor says the City is doing everything it can to ensure this is not a trend.
The Mayor urges everyone to do their part to keep their community safe, including following the City’s curfew and guidelines.
The City’s Office of Public Safety is working on intervention plans with trauma teams, street workers, clergy and community leaders, and the Boston Police Department. More information about this strategy will be available soon.
Continued social distancing during the peak:
Distancing and hygiene in the next two weeks is critical to flattening the curve and saving lives.
The Mayor urges residents to stay home and avoid contact with others; respect the recommended curfew from 9pm to 6am; wear a face covering whenever they leave home; stay at least six feet from other people at all times; wash their hands and clean and sanitize surfaces frequently.