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Jul 07
Nearly 350 Public Health Organizations Implore HHS Secretary Azar to Support CDC’s Critical Role in the COVID-19 Response

TUESDAY, JULY 7, 2020 - Today, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) joined nearly 350 other Public Health Organizations to implore Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to support the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's critical role in the COVID-19 pandemic response in the United States. The letter relased today said the expertise of the CDC and all public health agencies is critical to protecting Americans’ health during this ongoing crisis.

Click here to read the letter.

The authoring organizations, including BPHC, the American Public Health Association, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Big Cities Health Coalition, National Association of County and City Health Officials and Trust for America’s Health,  expressed “deep concern” about increasing reports of resistance to evidence-based public health messages and threats to public health leaders and agencies, and called on the Secretary to be an advocate for public health.

At this sentinel moment, during the worst public health emergency in over a century, all of the nation’s leaders must resist any efforts that would undermine the critical role of the CDC to respond to the pandemic and must be an advocate for increased investment in public health, said the letter signatories.

“Secretary Azar, we urge you to speak up and amplify the critical role of CDC and that of all public health agencies during this monumental crisis,” the letter said.

The public health community’s work to respond to the pandemic, via the federal government, including within the CDC, and at the state, local, territorial and tribal levels, has been tireless but has been hamstrung by shrunken programs and inadequate technology; the result of decades of underfunding.

Public health leaders are calling attention to the need for CDC to play a central role as the nation’s navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

“CDC is the world’s premier public health institution and should be treated as such during this pandemic. It must be appropriately funded and allowed to speak based on the best available science and with an unfettered voice,” said John Auerbach, President and CEO of Trust for America’s Health.

“When you look at the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, countries that listen to and prioritize public health fare best,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. “Trying to fight this pandemic without daily, public guidance from the CDC is like fighting with one hand tied behind your back.”

“There’s no federal agency better suited to lead the response to this unprecedented pandemic. CDC has experts who have studied and helped control coronaviruses and other viral threats for decades, and can help our country emerge from this crisis,” said Dr. Julie Gerberding, former director of the CDC, Co-Chair CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security.

The COVID-19 crisis has also illuminated the ways in which racial inequities impact health. Higher rates of COVID-19 deaths within communities of color illustrate the importance of all of CDC’s work, including its focus on chronic disease prevention. It is not possible to effectively meet the needs of the American people if that scope is narrowed.

The letter furthermore calls on Secretary Azar to be an advocate for increased funding for CDC’s core budget. While emergency supplemental funding has been critical to begin to address the immediate COVID-19 response needs, robust, sustained, and predictable funding for its full public health mission is essential to sustain its public health activities and to prevent the next emergency.  Increasing the federal investment in public health will be particularly important, as state and local government budgets are likely to be severely hampered in the coming fiscal year due to tax revenue losses during the COVID-19 related economic shutdown.

Today’s laser focus should be on preventing further deaths and disruptions due to the pandemic and the CDC, as the world’s premier public health institution, should be at the helm of that effort, the letter said. Once the pandemic is controlled, the CDC, other federal agencies, state and local leaders and the public health community should collaboratively evaluate their performance and must acknowledge and address shortcomings of the response in order to be better prepared for the next public health emergency.

Signing the letter were:

1,000 Days

Academic Health Resource

Academy for Eating Disorders

Action on Smoking and Health

Advocates for Better Children’s Diets

AES Consulting

AFSCME

AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children, Youth & Families

AIDS United

AlohaCare

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of WI

Alzheimer’s Association

Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM)

Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama

Alzheimer’s Orange County

American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Academy of Pediatrics, California

American Association for Clinical Chemistry

American Association for Dental Research

American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

American Association on Health and Disability

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)

American College Health Association

American College of Clinical Pharmacy

American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP)

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American College of Physicians

American College of Preventive Medicine

American Council on Exercise

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

American Geriatrics Society

American Heart Association

American Kidney Fund

American Lung Association

American Medical Women’s Association

American Organization for Nursing Leadership

American Public Health Association

American School Health Association

American Sexual Health Association

American Society for Clinical Pathology

American Society for Microbiology

American Society of Hematology

American Society of Pediatric Nephrology

American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene

American Thoracic Society

American University Department of Health Studies

APLA Health

Arizona Community Health Workers Association

Arizona Public Health Association

Art & Science of Health Promotion Institute

Asian Health Coalition

Asian Health Services

Association for Prevention Teaching and Research

Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology

Association of American Cancer Institutes

Association of American Medical Colleges

Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO)

Association of Food and Drug Officials

Association of Immunization Managers

Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs

Association of Minority Health Professions Schools

Association of Ohio Health Commissioners

Association of Population Centers

Association of Public Health Laboratories

Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health

Association of SNAP Nutrition Education Administrators

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

Association of State Public Health Nutritionists

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Big Cities Health Coalition

Bipartisan Policy Center

Black AIDS Institute

Black Men’s Health Initiative

Boston Public Health Commission

Bristol Health Equity Zone

Bronx Health REACH

California Coalition for Children’s Safety and Health

California Immunization Coalition

California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

California School Nurses Organization

Cambridge Public Health Department

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Cancer Council of the Pacific Islands

Caring Ambassadors Program

Cascade AIDS Project

Center for Community Resilience

Center for Health and Learning

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

Ceres Community Project

ChangeLab Solutions

Child Welfare League of America

Children’s Environmental Health Network

Children’s Mental Health Network

Christian Council of Delmarva

City of Houston Health Department

City of Milwaukee of Health Department

Climate for Health, ecoAmerica

Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas

Coalition of National Health Education Organizations

Cohen Veterans Bioscience

Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials

Colorado Public Health Association

Colorado Public Health Nursing Leaders

Community Access National Network

Community Education Group

Connecticut Public Health Association

Cooley’s Anemia Foundation

Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists

Counter Tools

County Health Executives Association of California

Cuyahoga County Board of Health

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Delaware Academy of Medicine

Delaware Academy of Medicine / Delaware Public Health Association

Delaware Academy of Medicine and the Delaware Public Health Association

East Shore District Health Dept.

Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action

Education Development Center

Element Health, Inc.

Endocrine Society

Enlace Chicago

Epilepsy Alliance America

Equality California

Eta Sigma Gamma

Families USA

Family Voices

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Information Network

FHI 360

FIRST Family Service Center

Fletcher Group, Inc.

Florida Institute for Health Innovation

Florida Public Health Association

Foundation for Healthy Generations

Galaxy Aviation Corp

Gateway Region YMCA

George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality

Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice

Global Health Council

Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC)

Global Healthy Living Foundation

Global Liver Institute

Grand Traverse County Health Department

Green & Healthy Homes Initiative

Harm Reduction Michigan

Hawaii Public Health Association

Hawaii State Dept of Health, Office of Primary Care and Rural Health

Health by Design

Health Care Improvement Foundation

Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO)

Health Resources in Action

Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County

Healthcare Ready

HealthHIV

HealthPartners Institute

Healthy Schools Campaign

Healthy Weight Partnership Inc.

Heartland Alliance

Hep B United

Hepatitis B Foundation

HIV Medicine Association

Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, Inc.

Idaho Public Health Association

Immunization Action Coalition

Immunize Nevada

Impetus – Let’s Get Started LLC

Indiana Public Health Association

Infectious Diseases Society of America

Institute for Family Health

Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science (IAPHS)

International Association of Emergency Managers

International Association of Fire Chiefs

IWC Resources, LP

Jeffrey Modell Foundation

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice

Jump IN for Healthy Kids

Kaplan Health Innovations

Kentucky Health Departments Association

KidsAndCars.org

Lakeshore Foundation

League of American Bicyclists

Linn County Public Health

Louisiana Community Health Worker Outreach Network

Louisiana Public Health Association

Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc.

Macoupin County Public Health Department

Maine Public Health Association

March of Dimes

MaryCatherine Jones Consulting, LLC

Maryland Association of County Health Officers (MACHO)

Maryland Office of Minority Health

Massachusetts Public Health Association

Medicago

MEND Foundation

Metropolitan Group

Michigan Association for Local Public Health

MindWise Innovations

Minneapolis Health Department

Mississippi Public Health Institute

Montana Public Health Association

Monterey County Health Department

Morehouse School of Medicine

MountainCare

Multnomah County Health Department

NAPHSIS

NASTAD

National Adult Day Services Association

National Association of Chronic Disease Directors

National Association of Community Health Workers

National Association of County and City Health Officials

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

National Association of School Nurses

National Athletic Trainers’ Association

National Birth Equity Collaborative

National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University

National Center for Healthy Housing

National Coalition for LGBT Health

National Coalition for the Homeless

National Coalition of STD Directors

National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)

National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention

National Hemophilia Foundation

National Kidney Foundation

National Lipid Association

National Medical Association (NMA)

National Network of Public Health Institutes

National Nurse-Led Care Consortium

National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives

National REACH Coalition

National Safety Council

National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable

National WIC Association

Nebraska Association of Local Health Directors

Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility of United Church of Christ

Nevada Public Health Organization

Nevada Rural Hospital Partners

New Jersey Association of County and City Health Officials

New Jersey Public Health Association

New York State Public Health Association

North Carolina Healthcare Foundation

Northwest Center for Public Health Practice

NYU Grossman School of Medicine

NYU School of Global Public Health

Ohio Public Health Association

Onyx Strategic Consulting LLC

Pacific Island Health Officers Association

Partnering for Community Transformation Inc

Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease

Partnership to Fight Infectious Disease

PATH

Patrick Risha CTE Awareness Foundation

Pawtucket Central Falls Health Equity Zone

Peggy Lillis Foundation

Pennsylvania Public Health Association

PFLAG National

Population Association of America

Population Health Alliance

Prevent Blindness

Prevent Child Abuse America

Prevention Institute

Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association

Public Health Advocates

Public Health Alliance of Southern California

Public Health Foundation

Public Health Institute

Public Health Law Center

Public Health Solutions

Puerto Rico Public Health Association

Pulmonary Hypertension Association

Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness GWU

Research!America

Residential Eating Disorders Consortium

Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies

Respiratory Health Association

Rhode Island Department of Health

RiverStone Health

Rural Health Association of Tennessee

Rural Health Association of Utah

Safe Routes Partnership

Safe States Alliance

Samueli Integrative Health Programs

SANIPLAN

School-Based Health Alliance

SF Hep B Free – Bay Area

SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators

Shoals Community Clinic

Silver State Equality-Nevada

Smoke Free St. Joe

Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research

Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Society for Public Health Education

Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education

Southern California Public Health Association

Southwick BOH

Stanislaus County Medical Society

Susan G. Komen

Tennessee Justice Center

Tennessee Public Health Association

Texas Public Health Association

The AIDS Institute

The Broussard Company

The Center for Community Resilience, George Washington University

The Consortium

The Foundation for Sustainable Communities

The George Washington University (GW) Cancer Center

The Gerontological Society of America

The Immunization Partnership

The John A. Hartford Foundation

The Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health

The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc

The Nourished Principles, LLC

The Permanente Medical Group

Thomas Jefferson University

Training Resources Network, Inc.

Treatment Action Group

Trust for America’s Health

Truth Initiative

U.S. Breastfeeding Committee

UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

United Ostomy Associations of America

United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties

University of Washington Department of Global Health

University of Washington School of Nursing

University of Washington School of Public Health

University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

Vaccinate Your Family

Washington State Association of Local Health Officials

Washington State Department of Health

Washington State Public Health Association

WelCore Health, LLC

West Valley Neighborhoods Coalition

Whitefoord

Winer Family Foundation

Wisconsin Public Health Association

Women Of A Certain Age

WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease

Women’s Resource Center

Woodhull Freedom Foundation

Xavier University for Population Health

YMCA of the USA

Zell Community Health Strategies

Click here to read the letter.

Jul 07
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): The Latest

Visit the BPHC Main Page on COVID-19 

OVERVIEW:

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 (formerly referred to as 2019 Novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCoV) is a new respiratory virus that was first identified in Wuhan, China in December of 2019. 

The City of Boston and BPHC have extended the public health emergency declaration until further notice. Massachusetts residents over the age of two must now wear a face covering in public. There is now a "Safer at Home Advisory" in effect in Massachusetts. 

Boston's Latest Numbers (As of July 7, 2020):
(Updated Monday-Friday)

  • 13,578 confirmed cases 

  • 9,568 recovered

  • 710 deaths

Click here for the BPHC 07-01-2020 Weekly COVID-19 Report

Boston Race/Ethnicity Case Data: 

(Updated Monday-Friday)

Race/Ethnicity

Known Cases

Percentage of Known Cases

Asian/PI

445

4%

Black/African-American

4,326

37%

Latinx/Hispanic

3,213

27%

Other

791

7%

White

2,917

25%

Total Race/Ethnicity Identified Cases in Boston

11,692

86.1% of total cases in Boston have known Race/Ethnicity data

Total Cases in Boston 

13,578

 


Boston Race/Ethnicity Death Data: 

(Updated Monday-Friday)

Race/Ethnicity

Deaths

Percentage of Known Deaths

Asian/PI

44

6%

Black/African-American

238

35%

Latinx/Hispanic

80

12%

Other

25

4%

White

301

44%

Total Race/Ethnicity Identified Deaths in Boston

688

96.9% of total deaths in Boston have known Race/Ethnicity data

Total Deaths in Boston

710

 


Although complete data on race and ethnicity among COVID-19 positive cases in Boston residents has not been reported to the City of Boston, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is actively working to collect available data for public release.

NOTE: Information on race and ethnicity data is collected and reported by multiple entities and may or may not reflect self-reporting by the individual case. A classification of "missing" indicates that no reporter knew the race and ethnicity of the individual, the individual refused to provide the information, or that the originating reporting system does not capture the information. "Other" indicates multiple races or another race that is not listed above.

Number of deaths at long-term care facilities: 332 (Updated weekly: 07/06/2020)


Weekly Neighborhood Data: 

As of June 29, 2020, there have been 84,493 COVID-19 tests (with results) of Boston residents. Of 84,493 total tests of Boston residents, 16.3% have tested positive, which is down from 17.6% reported through June 22. For all Boston residents, the percent positive for tests decreased from 1.9% for the prior week (June 16-22) to 1.6% for the current week (June 23-29).


NEIGHBORHOOD

​NUMBER TESTED

OF TESTED, CUMULATIVE % POSITIVE​

CURRENT WEEK % POSITIVE

TESTING RATE PER 10,000 RESIDENTS​

East Boston - 02128

6,678

25.5%

7.3%​

1,423.1

Mattapan - 02126

​ 3,533 

​22.3%

N/A*

1,193.9

Hyde Park - 02136​

​5,303

21.2%

N/A*

​1,549.5

Dorchester - 02122, 02124

10,480

​20.3%

1.1%​

1,295.7

Dorchester - 02121, 02125

8,870

​20.2%

1.5%​

​1,380.0

Roslindale - 02131

​ 4,429

17.0%

N/A*​

1,311.5

West Roxbury - 02132

3,086

15.0%

N/A*​

​1,083.3

South End - 02111, 02118

6,432

14.5%

1.6%​

1,798.9

Roxbury - 02119, 02120

​6,981

14.4%

1.8%​

​1,618.7

Allston/Brighton - 02163, 02134, 02135

​ 6,556

13.6%

1.1%​

​984.6

South Boston - 02127, 02210

3,944

​12.1%

N/A*

983.7

Jamaica Plain - 02130

 6,864

10.5%​

0.6%​

1,700.0

C​harlestown - 02129

1,899

10.4%​

N/A*

​978.2

Fenway - 02115, 02215

3,393

9.1%​

1.9%

620.0

Back Bay, Beacon Hill, West End, Downtown, & North End - 02108, 02114, 02116, 02199, 02222, 02109, 02110, 02013​

​ 6,013

8.4%​

​1.6%

1,079.1

Other

​ 32

50.0%​

N/A​*

​N/A

Boston

84,493

16.3%

1.6%

1,243.6

*N/A = Unable to calculate due to small counts (N<5)


CLICK HERE FOR A MAP OF TESTING SITES IN BOSTON


Visit the City of Boston's Reopening Page
The state has updated guidance on the Reopening Massachusetts website. The City of Boston also continues to update City-specific guidance on the reopening website


ABOUT OUR RESPONSE:

Since January, BPHC and Boston EMS have taken extensive steps to prepare for a potential outbreak of COVID-19.

BPHC is engaging in daily communications with the CDC, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), City of Boston departments and other community partners to make sure we have the latest information on guidance, best practices and recommendations. BPHC will provide updated information on this website and on our social media channels as it becomes available.

We are confident the City of Boston continues to be ready for a safe and effective response as the situation develops.

HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19?

Visit the BPHC Main COVID-19 Page

Call 311 or 211

Call the Mayor's Healthline: 

617-534-5050 or Toll-Free: 1-800-847-0710

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website on COVID-19

Massachusetts Department of Public Health website on COVID-19


Media Contact: 

Caitlin McLaughlin 

cmclaughlin@bphc.org 

(857-393-0002)

Jun 12
Statement from BPHC After Mayor Walsh Declares Racism A Public Health Crisis

​FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2020 - The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) applauds Mayor Martin J. Walsh's strong commitment to address racism by signing an Executive Order Declaring Racism an Emergency and Public Health Crisis in the City of Boston.

BPHC shares Mayor Walsh's belief that racism constitutes an emergency and public health crisis in our City, threatening public health and public safety. Racism creates a persistent barrier to health equity for all residents. It is the paramount social determinant of health, shaping access to the resources that create opportunities for health, including public safety, housing, education and employment. Racism in and of itself has been proven to have broad-reaching and direct negative impact on individual health outcomes. 

The Boston Public Health Commission has been a national leader in racial justice and health equity work throughout the past 20 years. Working in partnership with the Mayor's Office of Health and Human Services, as well as partners inside and outside of City government, BPHC has advanced measures including the adoption of a Data Collection Regulation to require racial and ethnic health data reporting, the formation of the Anti-Racism Advisory Committee, the creation of mandatory all-staff Racial Justice Health Equity professional development trainings, the adoption of an Equitable Procurement Policy, implementation of an organizational policy guiding our community engagement and the formation of a Health Equity Advisory Committee made up a representative group of community members.

While racial justice work is not new to us at BPHC, the Commission understands that we must recommit to addressing the impact that racism has on the lives of all of our neighbors and how it impacts the overall health of our City.

We look forward to working in partnership with Mayor's Office of Health & Human Services, departments across the City, and our many partners in the community to tackle the following eight key strategies to combat racism as a public health crisis and resulting health inequities:

  1. Develop policy and practice solutions that work to dismantle the systemic racism that creates barriers to strong public health. Strategies include using a health equity in all policies approach to evaluate current policies and practices and ensure access to data to drive equitable policy and practice development. 

  2. In partnership with COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force, develop a 'Boston Health Equity Now' plan that outlines detailed objectives and measurable goals in which the City will focus on root causes of the inequities that cause disparities in health outcomes for our residents.

  3. Engage historically marginalized communities in identifying problems and solutions and supporting community-driven responses.

  4. Ensure complete and regular availability of specific race and ethnicity data that documents the health inequities that exist in Boston through collection, dissemination and remedies for gaps in that data to strengthen our collective understanding.

  5. Conduct ongoing and enhanced analysis using all available data to understand the complexity of the interconnectedness of societal, environmental, and behavioral factors that contribute to the impact of racism on access to those resources that promote good health including good jobs, access to healthy and affordable food and housing, equitable transportation options and excellent public education. This includes a more comprehensive understanding of racism and its impact on violence in the community both as a direct correlation to its existence and the impact that it creates on the overall health of people and the community at large. 

  6. Focus on access to prevention and treatment that is culturally and linguistically competent and meets communities where they are to counter the inequities that exist in health care.

  7. Develop direct service programs and services to address the negative impact that these inequities have had on specific populations as well as programs that empower communities to tackle these systemic barriers. 

  8. Advocate at the state and federal level for policies and funding opportunities that directly combat systemic racism.

Today, Mayor Walsh announced $3 million dollars for BPHC to begin implementing the eight strategies announced above. Mayor Walsh also announced $1 million dollars to support trauma response and counseling for the Boston Neighborhood Trauma Team (NTT), which offers support services for individuals, families, and communities impacted by community violence.

The increase in funding will also support our Boston Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BBRFSS). BBRFSS data provides vital neighborhood level data, allowing BPHC to identify problems, target resources and design interventions in vulnerable populations. The additional funding will allow BBRFSS to oversample specific populations within the City and BPHC will use that data to inform action targeting inequities.

BPHC will release a plan within the next 120 days with specific actions related to the Boston Health Equity Now plan. In addition, BPHC will release a yearly report on measures of progress and challenges in addressing these systemic barriers starting in 2021. 

With the support of Mayor Walsh, this declaration and commitment to invest resources enables the Boston Public Health Commission to build on its strengths as a nationwide leader in understanding and addressing the relationships between racism and health outcomes. BPHC looks forward to working side-by-side with residents in moving toward a city where all residents live fulfilling lives, free of racism, poverty, violence, and other systems of oppression.

###

Jun 12
Mayor Walsh Declares Racism a Public Health Crisis

​Friday, June 12, 2020 - Building on a commitment to make Boston a national leader in battling racism, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced immediate actions to address the impact racism has on the health and well-being of residents in the city, including declaring racism an emergency and a public health crisis in the City of Boston. 

"In Boston, we embrace the opportunity this moment and this movement offers us," said Mayor Walsh. "We stand with our Black community and communities of color to lead the change toward a more just and equitable society. With these actions, we will increase equity in public safety and public health, and launch a conversation that can produce lasting, systemic change to eliminate all the ways that racism and inequality harm our residents."

Following President Obama's call to mayors to pursue policing reforms, Mayor Walsh has signed the "Mayor's Pledge" issued by the Obama Foundation's My Brother's Keeper Alliance. When President Obama started My Brother's Keeper in 2014, Mayor Walsh made a commitment to work to address the persistent opportunity gaps faced by youth in Boston. 

The "Mayor's Pledge" commits the City of Boston to the following actions:

  1. Review police use of force policies

  2. Engage communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories

  3. Report review findings to the community and seek feedback

  4. Reform police use of force policies  

In addition, Mayor Walsh has declared his support for the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus' "10 Point Plan" which outlines a series of reforms at the federal, state and municipal levels. 

Mayor Walsh has created a new Task Force to ensure that these commitments translate to immediate action, made up of an independent group of community members and chaired by former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Wayne Budd.

"I along with the members of the Task Force recognize the importance of the responsibility the Mayor has asked us to undertake. This comes at a very difficult time in our country, which makes the work that we are about to undertake even more important," said former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Wayne Budd. "You can be assured that we will give the task at hand the first attention and our best efforts, all to the end of assuring the very best the Boston Police Department has to offer and its responsibility of protecting and serving all people of Boston."

Mayor Walsh has issued several charges for the Task Force to start their work with, including reviewing Boston Police's use of force policies, recommending rigorous implicit bias training for police officers, improving the current Body Worn Camera program at Boston Police and strengthening Boston's existing police review board, known as the Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel or Co-op Board.

Mayor Walsh has previously committed his full support of body cameras being worn by officers during all shifts, including overtime, and Boston Police are actively working toward that goal. In addition, Mayor Walsh today announced that moving forward the Boston Police Department will no longer use the hair test for evidence of drug use in officers or recruits, a decision that's been made in partnership with the police unions. 

On June 11, 2020, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross announced he completed a review of Boston Police's policies against the recommended use of force policies outlined in the "8 Can't Wait" effort, resulting in clarified rules and the implementation of several reforms

"At the Boston Police Department, we are committed to ensuring accountability and transparency, and building trust with our community," said Commissioner William Gross. "These actions that we are taking demonstrate that we are in lockstep with the community who are calling on us to review and reform our policies, and take our community policing model that has positive engagement at its core to the next level."

Over the past six years, the crime rate in Boston is down by nearly 30%, arrests are down 33%, and police officers have taken nearly 5,000 guns off the streets. Additionally, from 2013 to 2019, complaints of improper behavior fell by 40% and complaints of excessive force dropped by over 50%.

The Task Force will produce recommendations in 60 days. Aligned with President Obama's "Mayor's Pledge," the community will have two weeks to review recommendations and provide feedback to the City of Boston and Mayor Walsh will announce reforms to be implemented as a result of the Task Force and the community's input within 90 days of the Task Force beginning their work.

In addition to former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Budd, community members named to the Boston Police Reform Task Force include: 

  • Allison Cartwright, Attorney in Charge, Roxbury Public Defender's Office

  • Joseph D. Feaster, Jr., Chairman of the Board, Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts

  • Tanisha Sullivan, President, NAACP Boston Branch

  • Darrin Howell, President, DRIVE Boston Community Resources Inc. & Political Coordinator, 1199SEIU

  • Superintendent Dennis White, Chief of Staff, Boston Police Department

  • Marie St. Fleur, former MA State Representative, Boston

  • Rev. Jeffrey Brown, Associate Pastor, Historic Twelfth Baptist Church, Roxbury

  • A designee from the City Council President

As part of Mayor Walsh's proposed Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget that will be resubmitted on June 15, 2020, Mayor Walsh will reallocate 20% or $12 million of the Boston Police Department's overtime budget to make a significant investment in equity and inclusion across the City. These investments include:

  • $3 million for the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) to begin implementation of the eight strategies outlined in Boston's declaration of racism as a public health crisis

  • $1 million to support trauma teams and counseling services at the Boston Public Health Commission

  • $2 million in new funding for community based programs and supports through City departments, such as violence intervention grants, youth programming, language and food access, immigrant advancement, the Age Strong Commission and the Human Rights Commission. 

  • $2 million for additional BEST Clinicians and mental health supports at the Boston Police Department

  • $2 million to support economic development initiatives to support minority and women owned businesses and;

  • $2 million to provide additional housing supports and youth homelessness programs. 

Accompanying Mayor Walsh's declaration of racism as an emergency and a public health crisis are eight strategies that are focused on addressing the impact that racism has on the lives of residents and their overall health. This work will be led by BPHC  in partnership with all city departments and supported by redirecting $3 million of Boston Police Overtime funding in FY21 Budget resubmission.

  1. Create policy solutions to dismantle systemic racism and barriers to public health by evaluating current policies and using data to drive change.

  2. Develop a "Boston Health Equity Now" plan that includes clear objectives and measurable goals to address the root causes of the inequities that cause disparities in health outcomes.

  3. Engage historically marginalized communities to identify problems, solutions and support a community driven response.

  4. Require public reporting of race and ethnicity data that documents health inequities in Boston by working with hospitals and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to access this critical information.

  5. Analyze data to better understand the interconnectedness of societal, environmental and behavioral factors that contribute to the impact of racism and access to jobs, food, housing, transit and education.

  6. Improve access to prevention and treatment that is culturally and linguistically competent.

  7. Develop services and programs to address the negative impact these inequities have had on specific populations.

  8. Advocate at the state and federal level for policies and funding opportunities that directly combat systemic racism.

BPHC will release a plan within the next 120 days with specific actions related to the Boston Health Equity Now plan. In addition, BPHC will release a yearly report on measures of progress and challenges in addressing these systemic barriers starting in 2021. 

"Racism is a driving force that shapes access to the social determinants of health and is a barrier to health equity for all Bostonians," said Marty Martinez, Chief of Health & Human Services. "This declaration will bring this work into greater focus with real, intentional efforts to  get to the root causes and see measurable solutions."

In May 2020, Mayor Walsh created a new COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force 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. With the support of the Task Force, the City has strengthened its focus on the inequities that COVID-19 has exposed and helped to increase resources like the number of testing sites and availability of testing in communities most impacted by the virus. 

Additional information and updates on this work will be posted publicly on boston.gov/endingracism. Information on the City of Boston's response to COVID-19 and recovery efforts can be found at boston.gov/coronavirus and boston.gov/reopening. Residents can text BOSCOVID to 888-777 to receive text alerts on COVID-19. 

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Jun 09
Mayor Walsh Announces New COVID-19 Testing Pop-Up Site in Boston

​Tuesday, June 9, 2020 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced today the City of Boston is partnering with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center to offer free and confidential COVID-19 testing to symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals in a pop-up location in Roxbury. This community testing initiative will be available tomorrow, Wednesday, June 10 and Thursday, June 11 at Washington Park Mall's parking lot from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., and will be open to everyone on a walk-in basis. Boston residents who have recently participated in large gatherings are strongly encouraged to get tested to limit the further spread of COVID-19. 

"As residents take a stand and raise their voices against racism and injustice, we want to provide every tool we can to keep them and their loved ones healthy when returning home," said Mayor Walsh. "In addition to handing out face coverings and hand sanitizer at recent demonstrations, we are proud to now make available a pop-up site for anyone -- with symptoms or not -- and encourage those who have recently been in large groups to get tested and limit the further spread of COVID-19 in our community."

Boston is offering COVID-19 testing in over 20 locations across the city that can be found at boston.gov/covid19-testing-map along with hours and contact information. Mobile testing has been filling gaps in testing availability, prioritizing neighborhoods and populations that need dedicated testing efforts to create equitable access to testing. 

As part of the ongoing work to make testing available for groups at risk of faster spread and more severe illness from COVID-19, the City has been universally testing individuals experiencing homelessness and among other high-impact populations and sites, including first responders.

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) recently conducted a study to evaluate community exposure to COVID-19 through a representative sampling of asymptomatic Boston residents that resulted in 9.9 percent testing positive for antibodies and 2.6 percent of currently asymptomatic individuals testing positive for COVID-19. In conclusion, approximately 1 in 10 residents in this study have developed antibodies and approximately 1 in 40 currently asymptomatic individuals are positive for COVID-19 and potentially infectious. The City has now expanded antibody testing to more Bostonians including targeted populations, such as first responders and frontline workers. 

The City of Boston has been partnering with community health centers to increase access to testing, particularly in neighborhoods experiencing higher rates of COVID-19. As of June 1, 2020, there have been 58,115 COVID-19 tests of Boston residents of which 22.6 percent have tested positive, down from 24.2 percent reported through May 24. The incidence rate of COVID-19 has been higher for Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury, and the South End compared with the rest of Boston. Of cases where race/ethnicity was known, 4 percent were Asian, 38 percent were Black, 26 percent were Hispanic or Latino, 25 percent were white, and 7 percent identified as multi-racial or another racial/ethnic group. The latest numbers of cases by Boston neighborhoods are available here.

Mayor Walsh and the Boston Resiliency Fund Steering Committee have dedicated over $1,300,000to expand COVID-19 testing and conduct culturally appropriate outreach and education to community health centers across City of Boston neighborhoods, including Bowdoin Street Community Health Center, Codman Square Community Health Center, The Dimock Center, DotHouse Health, Mattapan Community Health Center, Uphams Corner Community Health Center, Whittier Street Community Health Center, Charles River Community Health, Fenway Health, Greater Roslindale Medical & Dental Center, Harbor Health, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center,  Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, South Boston Community Health Center, NEW Health Charlestown, South End Community Health Center, and Brookside Community Health Center. The Fund has also supported telehealth services and equipment at those community health centers as well to connect testing to safe treatment options at home.  

Resources and information about COVID-19 are available online. Resources available on boston.gov and through City departments include support for renters and homeowners; small businesses; free meals for Boston students and families; free toiletries for Boston students; emergency childcare centers; support for older residents; information on homeless shelters; transportation options for health care workers; resources for those in recovery or those who have a substance use disorder; and mental health resources. More information on Boston's reopening can be found at boston.gov/reopening. 

For additional questions or programs, please visit our coronavirus website or call 3-1-1, Boston's 24-hour constituent hotline. Text BOSCOVID to 888-777 to receive text alerts on a regular basis, available in 11 languages.

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Jun 05
How to Talk to Young Children About Racial Injustices

How do I talk to young children about the racial injustices happening right now?

  1. Above all else, reassure the child that they are loved and the adults in their life are doing their best to take care of them.  Notice I did not say safe.  We cannot keep our children safe from racial injustice.  People of color have always known this.  White people are catching on, slowly.

  2. Your best is good enough.  Do not be afraid to say the wrong thing.  There is no perfect answer.    

  3. Help children find words to describe their wonderings and worries by asking questions.  Are you worried about the car you saw on fire?  Are you wondering what made me and auntie cry last night?

  4. Keep the concepts simple. For now, share the least amount of information necessary to reassure the child.     

  5. Use phrases that are familiar.  For example, if the child does not yet know what race is, stick to skin color.  If the child understands "went to heaven" rather than death, use this language.  If the child knows the concept of "bad guys" then talk about who the "bad guy" is in this context.  

  6. End the conversation with love, reassurance, and redirection. You need this as much as the child does. Do something together to reassure the child that it is ok to keep going.  For example: read a book, sing a song, build a tower, toss a ball, color a picture, make a snack, or play a game.

No really, what do I say? 

No one can tell you what to say because only you know your family.  We can only offer sample language.  You are the one who knows how to make the language fit your family.  And the truth is, what seems like the right thing today might not feel right tomorrow.  Again, we're aiming for good enough not perfection. Here are some examples:

Why are people so mad they are burning cars?

  • People are upset because a police officer hurt a man so badly he went to heaven/died and can never come back.

  • People are tired of living in a world where people are treated badly because they have black and brown skin.

  • Those people you saw are so mad they think the only way to be heard is to start a fire.

When I was angry you told me to take a timeout.  Those people should take a time out.

  • When you were mad at Bobby and you hit him, I wanted you to take a time out to calm down so you could ask Bobby nicely for your toy.  You did a great job using your words.  This is a little different.  

  • The people on TV already tried a time out and used their words many, many times.  Now they are very angry and trying something else.  It is important for them to keep trying to help the people being hurt because they have black and brown skin.

  • Starting a fire is very dangerous and if you are ever so angry you want to hurt something or someone, you must find an adult/grown-up to help you.

  • Sometimes people get so upset they do things without thinking about what will happen next.  Like when you were upset and knocked down your brother's block tower.  Your angries bubbled out before you could stop them.  Those people had their angries bubble out.

Why do the police hurt people who aren't bad guys?

  • That police officer was not a nice man.  He was a mean man.  I don't know why he was so mean.  I hope he goes to jail for a long long time.

  • Most police are helpers and work to keep us safe. But some police only keep people safe if they like them.  Those police should get in trouble and not be able to go to work anymore. 

My friend Gina has brown skin. Will the police hurt her?

  • I hope not.  Gina does everything she can to stay safe.  

  • You're right.  Gina's skin is beautiful and brown.  If you ever see someone be mean to Gina because of her skin I want you to stand next to her and say "Gina is my friend. You leave her alone."  Then I want you and Gina to go get an adult/grown-up to help.

Are the police going to hurt me?

  • I don't want you to worry about the police.  It is my job to make sure you don't get hurt. 

  • If you feel afraid when the police are around you can hold my hand. I am here and you can always come to me when you are feeling worried.

  • I say a prayer (make a wish) every day to keep that from happening. Do you want to hear it?


Resources for talking to young children about racial injustice

Remember that these links are starting points for conversations rather than final destinations. 

Step 1. Help children process their feelings in this moment

  • Once I was very very scared by Piplo Productions is a free online book that helps kids talk about scary feelings, what they feel like in your body and things that help them feel better. 

  • Supporting Kids Of Color in The Wake of Racialized Violence - an interview to help caregivers get an understanding on the impacts of radicalized violence on young children and how they can help them.

  • From PBS you can find more information on how to help children process information that comes forth in the news around tragic events

  • The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has developed a simple table that can help caregivers respond and help young children dealing with traumatic grief. 

  • Zero to Three's article applies a child development lens to guidance for talking to young children about racism and violence. 

Step 2. Talk about race and racism consistently and take action

  • Wee the People is a Boston based social justice project for children age 4 to 12 launched by two black mothers and offers workshops that explore activism, resistance, and social action through the visual and performing arts for both kids and caregivers.

  • Embrace Race is a great source of helpful information. In this article find out 8 ways to talk to young kids about racial injustice. 

  • HealthyChildren.org also has tips around talking to young children about racial bias.

  • Books for Littles is a website with diverse book recommendations on how to talk to children about race.

  • For educators, the NCTSN has also developed materials on how to address race and trauma in classrooms. 




Image credited to prettygooddesign.org

For more information:  

Visit ​massaimh.org​ and​ ecmhmatters.org​ 

or 

Contact us ​asubramaniam@mspcc.org​ and ​ecmhmatters@bphc.org  


May 28
Mayor Walsh Shares Return to Work Framework for Public and Private Businesses, Employers and Landlords

​Thursday, May 28, 2020 - Building on his commitment to a safe, phased-in reopening in the City of Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today laid out guidance and operational recommendations for businesses, employers and commercial landlords to consider as part of their return-to-work strategies for office workplaces. This framework, which focuses on areas such as social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting, is specific to Phase 1 of the Commonwealth's phased reopening plan, and builds on the industry specific statewide workplace safety standards, incorporating further guidance from the CDC, US Chamber of Commerce and industry associations aimed at preparing the physical workplace and workforce ahead of June 1.

"Our first and foremost priority in making available these guidelines is to empower businesses and employers to act now and put in place safety precautions and protocols before beginning to reopen," said Mayor Walsh. "In the City of Boston, we recognize the size of our commercial sector and the unique role we play in the region's working and commuting patterns. That's why it's so important that as a city, we collectively do everything we can now to institute the necessary safeguards that will allow businesses to reopen in a safe and healthy way when they are ready to do so." 

The guidance the City is putting forward today offers additional considerations for employers to ensure a safe reopening, and supplements state and federal mandates around building and property management. More information on this guidance can be found here. All employers are required to follow statewide standards for re-opening office workplaces, including the requirement that businesses and other organizations must limit occupancy within their office space to no more than 25 percent of the maximum occupancy level during Phase 1.

In addition to state and federal mandates, the City of Boston is recommending for businesses, employers and landlords to consider the following recommendations:

Social Distancing:

  • Entrances, Lobbies and Reception: post clear signage and markers of 6-foot social distancing spaces in all high traffic areas, particularly where lines form; limit entry and access points unless required for compliance with building safety regulations; limit public interactions and public access to buildings by closing lobby seating or other public gathering spaces; deploy sanitizing stations at high traffic areas; discourage use of revolving doors in favor of swing doors where possible; enable no-touch employee security access points; encourage use of door-stoppers where possible to minimize contact with doorknobs

  • Elevators, Stairwells, Hallways, Corridors: no more than four people in an elevator at a time, and all must wear face coverings, except when unsafe due to medical condition or disability; when possible, building occupants who are able to should be instructed to use the stairs in common directions, and stairs should be limited to one direction; regular sanitation of handrails, buttons, and door handles

  • Cafeterias: implement one-way directional traffic flows and 6-foot social distancing standards for queuing at checkout and cash registers; install touchless payment options where possible and sanitize point of sale terminals after customer use; supply individually wrapped single-use disposable utensils and products; eliminate self-serve fountain machines and coffee stations; regularly sanitize high-touch areas such as napkin dispensers; install safety barriers to protect food-service workers at points of contact such as cashier stands and checkout lines. 

Hygiene Protocols:

  • Avoid sharing office equipment or disinfect between use, including but not limited to telephones, computers, copy machines, water coolers, etc.

  • Where possible, open windows for better ventilation

  • Follow CDC specific recommendations regarding Building Engineering Controls', as noted here in the section titled "Maintain a healthy work environment"

Staffing and Operations:

  • Policies and Documentation: identify and clearly communicate a workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19 issues and impact on the workplace; conduct a hazard assessment to determine if workplace hazards are present and determine what types of mitigants are necessary to specific job duties; provide personal protective equipment for any employee whose job function requires it; implement and maintain symptom screening procedure at entrances; establish accommodation and leave policies for employees consistent with federal and state laws

  • Ongoing Operations: ensure employees and visitors to the building use face coverings, except when unsafe due to medical condition or disability; employers should make face coverings available for their employees (reusable, cloth face covering when possible); encourage flexible meeting options to reduce non-essential travel; monitor and prepare for spikes in sick of absent employees by cross-training employees to maintain critical business processes

  • Communication: communicate workplace policies clearly, frequently, in multiple languages, and through various channels; utilize an emergency notification system when necessary; and maintain updated contact information for employees

  • Commuting: when possible, allow for flexibility in working hours so employees can commute during non-peak hours; encourage employees to wash their hands upon entering the workplace

Cleaning and Disinfecting:

  • Schedule frequent cleaning of public spaces, high touch surfaces and communal areas

  • Have a written cleaning plan available to all staff for review that includes specific COVID-19 considerations, including: frequency of restocking of hygiene supplies, cleaning schedule of general areas, floors and high touch surfaces, and a response action protocol for any known space where a confirmed case of infection of exposure might have occurred, and notification to the workplace coordinator

As part of the City of Boston's response to meet the needs of businesses in Boston as we begin a phased-in reopening, earlier this week, Mayor Walsh announced $6 million in new debt-free grants to support the safe and healthy reopening of small businesses in Boston. The funding will help qualified small businesses implement the necessary public health measures required to reopen safety. Applications for those grants will be made available today at 5:00 p.m. at boston.gov/reopen-fund. In total, the City of Boston has provided over $13.5 million in City, federal and private funding to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. 

For more information on the phased-in reopening in the City of Boston, please visit: boston.gov/reopening.

 

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May 28
Mayor Walsh Announces New “Healthy Streets” Program as part of Reopening Process

​Thursday, May 28, 2020 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced a series of changes to City streets as Boston continues its planning for a phased, careful COVID-19 reopening process in the City of Boston. Street changes will be phased in over the next several months, and in the next two weeks the Boston Transportation Department will make improvements that include street space allocated for expanded bus stops, new bike lanes, and outdoor restaurant seating. 

"Ensuring the safety and health of all residents is our first priority in Boston," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "These innovative streets programs focus on what residents need: safe, reliable transportation if they must travel in Boston, access to fresh air and open spaces, and building social and physical distancing into everyday life. As we continue to carefully plan for reopening in Boston, we will continue our work to create streets and transportation that work for all." 

Improving Bus Stops 

To better accommodate workers who use MBTA bus routes, which continue to see high use by essential workers, the Boston Transportation Department will expand bus stops at ten locations in partnership with the MBTA, and will begin to make these changes the week of June 1st. 

Locations include:

  • Maverick Blue Line Station on the median island in Maverick Square

  • Blue Hill Avenue Bus Stops (Inbound Only) at Morton Street and Woodhaven Street

  • Hynes Station (Northbound) Stop 

  • Broadway Station 

  • Haymarket Station on Congress Street 

  • Warren Street at Whiting Street and Moreland Street

  • Route 39 Bus Stop at Fenwood Street

  • Route 7 (Inbound) stop at L Street at Broadway

In addition, the City of Boston is enhancing Silver Line reliability through Chinatown, and installing a bus lane on Washington Street north of Marginal Road and by repainting the bus lane on Essex Street.

Accelerating Installation of Bike Lanes 

To help people get to work safely, the first phase of bike lanes will focus on connecting downtown to the citywide network. They will provide high-comfort dedicated lanes that will be attractive to new bike riders, families, essential workers and commuters. 

These quick-build lanes include: 

  • Arlington St (Beacon to Stuart)

  • Beacon St (Charles to Berkeley)

  • Boylston St (Arlington to Washington)

  • Charles St (Boylston to Beacon)

  • Columbus Ave (W Newton to Stuart)

  • Court St (Congress to Tremont)

  • State St (Atlantic to Congress)

  • Tremont St (Court to Shawmut) 

In addition, the City will implement scheduled bike lanes on Washington Street (from Stuart Street to Avenue De Lafayette), Stuart Street (Charles Street to Washington Street), and Berkeley Street (Tremont St to Columbus Avenue). 

Supporting Restaurants and Small Businesses 

Last week, Mayor Walsh and the Licensing Board for the City of Boston took steps to streamline existing processes for restaurants who wish to expand outdoor seating as part of the COVID-19 reopening process. These new processes make it easier for restaurants to take advantage of outdoor space in Boston when they are allowed to open under state guidelines, including issuing a questionnaire for businesses that will be used as the starting point for both identifying opportunities for temporary extensions onto outdoor space both on public and private property. Over 270 businesses have already begun this process throughout all of Boston's neighborhoods. The Transportation and Public Works Departments are reviewing requests from the questionnaires to accommodate outdoor dining on sidewalks and parking lanes.

Temporary street closures with barriers and signs will also be explored as part of the outdoor seating work, and to create better green links to parks and open spaces.

"Public space and transportation will be key to a healthy reopening and an equitable recovery," said Chris Osgood, Chief of Streets. "Right now, that includes making sure hospital staff and front line workers can get to work safely and affordably, and rethinking how Boston's streets best serve our residents. These changes to Boston's streets are in line with Boston's transportation goals of safety, access, and reliability, and the City's work to create a safe city for every resident." 

More information about the above changes, including a map of all locations, is available now at boston.gov/healthy-streets, and residents are encouraged to submit feedback on ongoing pilot programs.

Future phases will include additional bus priority measures, continued adjustments to our curb management and enforcement activities, more bike lanes, and new Bluebikes stations. Work continues on our existing capital projects, including the construction of several Neighborhood Slow Streets zones this summer. Additional information is available on boston.gov

 

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May 15
Mayor Walsh, Massachusetts General Hospital Announce Results of Antibody and COVID-19 Testing for Boston Residents

Friday, May 15, 2020 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh, together with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), today announced the study to evaluate community exposure to COVID-19 through a representative sampling of asymptomatic Boston residents resulted in 9.9% testing positive for antibodies and 2.6% of currently asymptomatic individuals testing positive for COVID-19. In conclusion, approximately 1 in 10 residents in this study have developed antibodies and approximately 1 in 40 currently asymptomatic individuals are positive for COVID-19 and potentially infectious. 

"We can draw two preliminary conclusions from the results of this study," said Mayor Walsh. "First, that the actions we took early on in this pandemic made a real difference in slowing the spread and, second, that the majority of our population still have not been exposed to the virus. This underscores what we already know, that we have to move cautiously and stay focused on what got us this far. This can be done by a gradual, phased-in approach to reopening that includes clear health criteria and safety guidelines for each industry and depends on testing and hospital metrics reaching certain benchmarks, and continuing to move in the right direction." 

More than 5,000 residents living in East Boston, Roslindale or within the boundaries of zip codes 02121 and 02125 in Dorchester were invited to voluntarily participate in the study, with total outreach representing more than 55% people of color. Approximately 1,000 residents expressed interest in participating and 786 residents were deemed eligible. Of those, 750 residents enrolled in the study and received the required testing. Residents with symptoms or a previously positive COVID-19 test were disqualified from the study.

Baseline demographics of the 750 participants:

  • Median age is 42.4 years old

  • 61.6% are female, 38.3% male

  • 36.8% are from Roslindale, 25.1% are from East Boston, 23.2% are from 02125 in Dorchester and 14.9% are from 02121 in Dorchester

  • 62% are white, 18.7% are Black/African-American, 12% are Latinx/Hispanic, 2.3% are Asian/Pacific Islander and .13% are American Indian/Alaska Native. 1.6% preferred not to say and 1.6% are unknown. There were no significant differences in COVID-19 or antibody rates by race or ethnicity in this sample.

Prevalence of COVID-19 positivity in currently asymptomatic individuals ranged from 1.1% to 4.6%, while antibody positivity ranged from 6.3% to 13.3% by zip code.

  • East Boston: 1.1% tested positive for COVID-19, 13.3% tested positive for antibodies

  • Roslindale: 2.2% tested positive for COVID-19, 7.6% tested positive for antibodies

  • 02121 in Dorchester: 2.7% tested positive for COVID-19, 6.3% tested positive for antibodies

  • 02125 in Dorchester: 4.6% tested positive for COVID-19, 12.1% tested positive for antibodies

"Making sound decisions about safely reopening requires that we understand how extensively the virus has already spread in our community," said Peter L. Slavin, MD, president of Massachusetts General Hospital. "The testing that the teams from Boston and the MGH conducted shows that approximately 90 percent of the city's residents have not yet been exposed to the virus. We also know that COVID-19 will be with us for a while. It is vital therefore that we be thoughtful and careful about reopening, and that we continue to take actions - wearing masks, physical distancing, working from home when possible, limiting gatherings - that can prevent another surge of the disease."

Testing was conducted at three drive through testing sites in East Boston, Roslindale and Dorchester. 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 tested positive for the COVID-19 virus or the COVID-19 antibodies was provided with clear guidance and information on how to care for themselves and those around them.

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. Boston is currently offering testing in over 20 locations, including hospitals and community health centers. During April 30 and May 7 alone, Boston had a 30 percent increase in the amount of testing happening citywide. By the end of last week a total of 36,072 tests had been conducted.

On Monday, Mayor Walsh announced that the City's first round of universal testing for all unhoused individuals in Boston was completed. Over 2,200 homeless individuals were tested, with 743 testing positive for a 32% infection rate. In addition, Mayor Walsh is working on universal testing at city substance use residential programs.

Through the Boston Resiliency Fund, the City has dedicated $1.24 million to expand COVID-19 testing and conduct culturally appropriate outreach and education at 17 community health centers in Boston neighborhoods. A full map of testing sites is available here. The map includes contact information for the testing site and it is updated as new sites come online. Residents who are sick and want to be tested should call ahead to be pre-screened and schedule an appointment. Residents will not be charged for testing and residents will not be asked about immigration status. 

In addition, the City of Boston has made available weekly data on testing at the neighborhood level, with new reports including the number of people tested, and positive testing rates for each neighborhood. The latest data was shared on Thursday, May 7 and can be found here

 

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May 08
Mayor Walsh Announces City of Boston To Suspend Large Events in the City Through Labor Day

Friday, May 8, 2020 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today in accordance with public health guidance around the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic announced that parades and festivals will not take place in the City of Boston this summer, up to and including Labor Day on September 7, 2020. 

"While we're planning a healthy reopening and an equitable recovery process, I know this announcement will be disappointing to many residents and organizations that look forward to these events each year," said Mayor Walsh. "This is a hard public health decision, but it's the right one. I encourage people to rethink their events, and thank them for their work to inspire us, and help our communities get through this difficult time."

The City of Boston has made the decision to continue to suspend events that bring crowds together in close contact, like a road race, concert, or flag raising. No event should be planned that would involve more than 10 people gathering or that could draw a crowd of any size.

The City of Boston encourages organizers to host events through virtual means, such as the 24th Annual 2020 Mother's Day Walk for Peace, which has transitioned into a virtual walk-a-thon. The Boston Symphony Orchestra will not be holding a live performance of the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on July 4. Instead it will present, on television and online, A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes, in honor of front-line workers and all those who have lost their lives to the health crisis. City of Boston events that will move to a virtual option include the Donna Summer Disco and Gospelfest.

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1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: info@bphc.org