COVID-19 Updates

Below is information from the City of Boston.

HELP FLATTEN THE CURVE: To protect Bostonians and their families from the spread of the virus, residents are reminded to practice caution: 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. Residents are also reminded to practice social distancing: keep your distance from others (6 feet apart); avoid crowded places. 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

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 to 888-777 for Spanish
  • Text BOSKreyol to 888-777 for Haitian Kreyol
  • Text BOSFrancais to 888-777 for French
  • Text BOSKriolu to 888-777 for Cabo Verdean Creole
  • Text BOSPortugues to 888-777 for Portuguese
  • Text BOSSoomali to 888-777 for Somali
  • Text BOSChi to 888-777 for Simplified Chinese
  • Text BOSbilAraby to 888-777 for Arabic
  • Text BOSViet to 888-777 for Vietnamese
  • Text BOSRus to 888-777 for Russian

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

REOPEN BOSTON FUND

The Mayor announced a $6 million Reopen Boston Fund, a new resource to help small businesses minimize risk and manage economic recovery as we move forward. 

  • This is a grant program to help small businesses put safety measures in place, including buying personal protective equipment (PPE); installing safety partitions for customers and employees; and managing outdoor space that’s approved for business use. The grants will be distributed to brick-and-mortar businesses, with fewer than 15 employees, where people work close to each other or to customers. That includes salons and barber shops, retail stores and restaurants, gyms and event spaces, and more. 
  • The funds will be released in three rounds, corresponding to the phases of the state’s reopening plan. Phase 1 applications will open this Thursday, May 28th, at 5 p.m. Information is available in multiple languages at boston.gov/reopen-fund.
    • The second round will target retail stores, restaurants, including outdoor dining materials, and remaining personal services including nail salons, day spas, waxing, and laser services. 
    • The final round will include bars, arts and entertainment venues, and fitness businesses. 
  • This new fund builds on previously existing supports for small businesses, including the Small Business Relief Fund, which has already distributed $4 million to more than 1,100 small businesses, and a new online resource to help small businesses procure PPE, which has already seen 4,500 visitors.
  • When business owners are allowed to open under the State’s plan, that doesn’t mean they have to open. If they decide not to open, they will continue to have access to all the resources and support that the City provides.

REPORTING SAFETY CONCERNS

  • Workers in any size organization have options if they feel they are being pressured into an unsafe situation. Attorney General Maura Healey has created resources for workers to report safety concerns during reopening. They include an online form at the Attorney General’s website and a dedicated Fair Labor hotline at 617-727-3465. People can also find those resources by calling 311. 

SMALL BUSINESS WORKSHOPS

  • The City of Boston is also holding a series technical assistance workshops for small businesses to address challenges around reopening. The Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, in partnership with the Boston Licensing Board, the Public Works Department, Boston Transportation Department, the Inspectional Services Department, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, and the Boston Main Streets program, will discuss reopening guidelines, PPE and cleaning supply needs, as well as updated City policies to support businesses reopen safely.

BOSTON HOPE MEDICAL CENTER UPDATE

  • As the number of new coronavirus cases have continued to decline, and capacity at local hospitals has returned to near-normal levels, the Boston Hope Medical Center at the BCEC stopped taking new patients on May 26th. 
  • The facility will continue operating until the last patient has been discharged to a safe place, and it will stay in place as a ready resource should it be needed again. 
  • In total, Boston Hope has treated more than 700 patients since it opened in early April. 

COMMUNITY CARE KIT DISTRIBUTION 

  • Over the weekend, the Office of Neighborhood Services (ONS) distributed 10,000 care kits to various community outreach partners, meal sites, and testing sites in Boston, building on the Mayor’s commitment of making critical resources available to residents. 
  • Each kit contains a mask, hand sanitizer, gloves, anti-bacterial wipes, soap, and a booklet with information from the City on COVID-19 facts and resources. 
  • Providing residents with the tools they need to stay safe during this time was one of the recommendations of the Mayor’s Health Inequities Task Force, which has been working to provide guidance to the City of Boston on addressing current inequities in data analysis, testing sites, and health care services for blacks, Latinos, Asians and immigrants, and advocating for an equitable reopening and recovery for all of Boston’s communities.
  • The care kits were assembled by a team of 130 volunteers from 25 City departments, who supported the Office of Neighborhood Services (ONS) in preparing for the distribution. The care kits are being made available in part through community partners, who play an integral role in providing residents with the resources needed to keep people safe during this public health crisis. 
  • ONS is assembling another 10,000 care kits for a second round of distribution this week.

EQUITY AND INCLUSION CABINET

  • The Equity and Inclusion Cabinet, the first in Boston’s history, will drive the work to dismantle systemic racism and embed equity in all planning and operations moving forward. That work will include:
    • Taking down barriers to equity in health and economic well-being;
    • Accelerating our progress toward a city workforce that reflects the people of the city, at all levels; and
    • Supporting full inclusion and opportunity for immigrant, refugee, and other vulnerable communities.
  • The Cabinet will bring together existing departments, including the Offices of: Resilience and Racial Equity, Diversity, Language and Communication Access, Women’s Advancement, Immigrant Advancement, and the Human Rights Commission. And it will apply an equity lens to every department and service, ensuring accountability to this lens in all city policies and practices.
  • It will put an intentional focus on supporting communities of color and marginalized groups. And it will partner with residents, community groups, nonprofits, and businesses to build equity throughout our economy and society. 
  • The Mayor will be appointing a Chief of Equity and Inclusion to lead this work. The work of this cabinet will combat systemic racism in every single way that the City government touches people’s lives. An important part of the Cabinet’s work will be to leverage private and nonprofit resources through cross-sector partnerships. 

BOSTON RACIAL EQUITY FUND

  • The Boston Racial Equity Fund will invest in nonprofits that empower Black and Brown residents in economic development, public health, youth employment, education, the arts, and more. 
  • Its mission is to increase the safety, wellbeing, equity, and prosperity of the Black and Brown community. 
  • The City’s initial goal is to raise $10 million, and the long-term goal is to get the fund up to $50 million. Next week, the Mayor will announce a steering committee that will be made up of leaders in business, higher education, and community development.  
  • The Mayor noted that one of the City’s goals is to coordinate and amplify this interest, and that there are statewide efforts being led by Black and Brown business leaders the City wants to support. The City is working with those leaders to coordinate the work, through communication and shared oversight. 

FAIR HOUSING ZONING AMENDMENT

  • This year, the City will be filing a new zoning amendment aimed at ensuring access to fair housing in every neighborhood.
  • This amendment will require developers in our City to do more to fight displacement and promote inclusion.
  • The BPDA is working with the Department of Neighborhood Development, the Boston Housing Authority, and the Office of Fair Housing to create a project assessment tool. The purpose will be to identify and address the risk of displacement, as well as foster access for historically excluded communities.

FY21 BUDGET

  • The City Council passed the FY21 budget. The City refiled the budget after taking into account the economic impacts of COVID, the mass movement for racial justice, and extensive review with the City Council. 
  • The FY21 budget strikes the best possible path forward, and includes investments that, before COVID, were considered historic advances in equity including:
    • $80 million, or 7% increase, for schools
    • $16 million increase for affordable housing–including one of the first city-funded rental voucher programs in the country.
    • In addition: $13 million increase in public health and $2 million from the police budget to directly address racism. 

BPL TO GO UPDATE

The Boston Public Library has added five new locations to its BPL To Go program

As of July 6, patrons will be able to pick up books, DVDs, and CDs at the following branches:  

  • Brighton
  • Charlestown
  • Lower Mills
  • South Boston
  • West Roxbury 

These are in addition to the five locations previously announced (Central, Mattapan, East Boston, JP, and Codman).

With BPL To Go, library card holders — including e-card holders — can “order” items by placing holds on their items at bpl.org, by using the new BPL To Go iPhone app, or by calling the library’s main number at 617-536-5400.  

GENERAL REMINDERS

  • Stay home. If you must go outside, practice physical distancing from others (6 feet apart); avoid crowded places.
  • Wear a face covering if you absolutely must go outside. Face covers help reduce the risk of a person spreading the virus, especially if they are asymptomatic. Visit CDC guidelines on face coverings for more information and guidance. 
  • Anyone experiencing a medical emergency should call 911. The City of Boston’s EMTs and hospitals have the capacity and ability to treat everyone.
  • Observe the recommended curfew for everyone in Boston except for essential workers to stay at home from 9 pm to 6 am daily. 
  • 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
  • Fresh Truck Open Air Markets schedule.
  • City Hall is open to the public on Tuesdays and Fridays, 9 am – 5 pm. Learn more about the status of city departments and hours of operation here
  • Fill out the 2020 Census. 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. 
  • Tell the Parks Department where you would like to see more open space in our neighborhood here

Call: 311 or 211.

Critical Resources:

OTHER COVID19 UPDATES

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.

  • On April 21st, Governor Baker announced that all public and private schools will be closed for the remainder of the academic year.  All childcare (except for essential workers) will remain closed until June 29. Childcare programs for first responders, other essential workers will continue operating as they have been. Currently there 523 programs statewide. With Boston Public Schools closed to students, the City will continue to provide free breakfast and lunch meals to all Boston students. View a map of meal sites for children and youth.
  • Massachusetts is one of 4 states to receive federal approval to create a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (PEBT) Program. Families with EBT cards will have the amount added to their balance. Families without EBT cards will be provided special PEBT cards. In districts that qualify for universal free meals, including Boston, all families will receive the benefit.
  • On April 20, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law emergency legislation adopting a temporary moratorium on non-essential evictions of residential and small business tenants as well as a temporary foreclosure moratorium and forbearance relief for residential mortgagors amid the COVID-19 state of emergency. Read the bill in its entirety here.  The temporary moratoriums began April 20, 2020 and continue until (a) August 18, 2020, or (b) the date that is 45 days after the COVID-19 emergency declaration has been lifted, whichever is sooner (the “Moratorium Period”).

On Monday, March 23, Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close as of March 24th at noon until April 7th at noon and was extended to May 18th. On May 18, 2020, Gov. Baker announced the implementation of a four-phase reopening plan for Massachusetts. For an overview of the four-phase and updates, visit https://www.mass.gov/lists/press-releases-related-to-covid-19

On Sunday, March 15, 2020, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is declaring a public health emergency in the City of Boston due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This allows BPHC the authority to increase the availability of staff and resources, and enhance reporting, information and resource sharing among Boston’s health and medical community. 

EXPANDING ACCESS TO TESTING

This week, with support from the Boston Resiliency Fund, three more community health centers will start offering COVID-19 testing: Fenway Health in the Fenway neighborhood; Driscoll-Neponset Health Center in Dorchester; and Charles River Community Health in Brighton.

  • When these three new sites are up and running, there will be a total of 19 testing sites operating in the City of Boston. Locations, hours, and contact information for all open sites are available at boston.gov/coronavirus.  
  • The City continues to conduct universal testing for Boston’s homeless population in both city-run and nonprofit shelters. 
  • Antibody testing of 1000 residents is also underway, and should be completed by the end of this week. Participants will be tested for the presence of antibodies as well as for the COVID virus itself. The data from the antibody testing program will provide a snapshot of how prevalent the outbreak is in certain zip codes, and provide important insights into how the virus spreads. We appreciate all of the residents participating as testing will empower them with knowledge about their own status.

EXPANDING INTERNET ACCESS

  • So far, the City of Boston has distributed over 30,000 free Chromebook laptops and 2,400 free WiFi hotspots to get families online. We will continue to provide these resources, which are important as the next phase of distance learning is introduced by BPS in the coming week. To request a Chromebook, go to bostonpublicschools.org or call 3-1-1. To request WiFi hotspots, please contact your child’s school directly.
  • For anyone who already has internet service, Boston’s internet and wireless providers agreed to suspend service cut-offs and late fees through March and April. Verizon, Comcast, and RCN have extended their pledge through June 30.

STAY INFORMED

Receive the latest COVID19 info from reliable sources. 

Visit: bphc.org/coronavirus; boston.gov/coronavirus; mass.gov/2019coronavirus