Walsh provides COVID-19 update; announces testing program for BPS teachers

Mayor Walsh held a press conference on September 23, where he gave an update on COVID-19 and made an announcement regarding testing for teachers in the Boston Teachers Union. 

He said that as of Wednesday, there were 63 new cases of COVID-19 in Boston and no new deaths on Wednesday. He said that the seven day average positive test rate in the City for the week ending September 19, which was about the same as the week prior. He said that the City has seen a slight uptick in hospitalizations, and Boston is “very close to moving into the red category” on the state’s map of cases, as it is “seeing roughly eight new cases per 100,000 people. 

He said that testing and resources need to continue to be brought where they are needed most, and the City will continue working with colleges and universities on keeping the number of cases down. 

Walsh also said that he would be accepting Governor Charlie Baker’s new changes for dining, including permission to eat  socially distanced meals at bars in restaurants, but he will not allow the maximum number of people at a restaurant table to be ten, as the governor is allowing in the state. Walsh said that Boston’s maximum will remain at six.

He said that he wants “to make sure we do everything we can to keep those numbers down,” and decisions made for the City will “continue to be guided by public health data,” he said, while continuing to support restaurants and other small businesses in the City.

Walsh said that most neighborhoods remain at a positive rest rate under three percent, and while there is a slight upward trend in cases overall in the City, he said that “it is within our control.” He stressed the importance of continuing to social distance, wearing masks, continuing to wash hands, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and avoiding large gatherings. 

He also called on the City’s young adults to spread this message to their peers, and to make sure they are aware of the dangers of going to parties and gathering indoors in large numbers. “We need you to be our messengers here in the City of Boston,” Walsh said. 

Walsh also talked about the first day of remote learning in Boston Public Schools, which happened on September 21 and happened :very successfully,” he said, thanking everyone who played a part in making that happen.

He said that more than 400,000 Chromebooks were distributed to students, and internet access was expanded to families who did not have it.

He said that in all Boston Public Schools, dividers and distancing materials will be provided for the gradual return of students in a hybrid model, as well as fixes to help ensure healthy, clean air, sanitization stations and hygiene materials, and electronic foggers in all schools for sanitization of surfaces. 

Walsh also announced that the Red Sox and the MLB will help to provide COVID testing for teachers  in the Boston Teachers Union. Testing will begin near Fenway Park, and then will move into other neighborhoods. A “random sampling of teachers will be tested across the City,” Walsh said. “This testing program is an important way to support our teachers.”

He said the Red Sox, along with Jet Blue and Boston Pride have donated more than 60,000 reusable masks to BPS students and teachers, and Boston Public Schools students will receive a mask when they return to school as part of the hybrid model.

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