Walsh: ‘Uptick of covid-19’ raises fresh concerns in Boston

On a day in which the nation absorbed news that President Donald Trump and the First Lady have tested positive for Covid-19, Mayor Walsh warned that Bostonians continue to be at increasing risk for contracting the disease with the rate of positive cases mounting.

“We do have an uptick of covid -19 in the city over the last few weeks,” Walsh said during a Friday afternoon press availability outside of City Hall. “We’ve seen it and talked about it here and we need to do all we can and stay focused on what we can do to keep the activity rate down.”

Walsh reacted this way to the news of the outbreak among the president and the White House: “If he can get with all of the protections around him it just shows that no one is safe and anyone can get it.”

Boston officials will be closely monitoring the city’s positive rate and trends through the weekend, the mayor said. On Thursday, Walsh noted that the city’s positive test rate climbed to 3.5 percent this week— an increase from 2.7 percent last week. Dorchester’s 02125 and 02121 zip codes are among the worst hit, at 7 percent. The increase put the city back in “the red zone” and will prevent Boston from phasing into the next part of the state’s re-opening sequence.

Marty Martinez, Boston’s chief of health and human services, said that the city is closely monitoring the data and expects to have an updated positive test percentage later today.

“The state has been clear that if you are in that red trend for three weeks of more, then you are really seeing a trend of that uptick. That’s what we’ll be monitoring,” he said. “That number has been tied to the reopening of Boston Public Schools, so we want the citywide rate to stay under 4 percent so we can continue to hybrid learning. Reaching the 4 percent citywide rate would prevent us from continuing to do that. That’s what we’re focusing on. We’re living with covid, so we have to be able to contain it.”

Walsh added that the city’s rates have been somewhat “up and down” in the past few weeks, and consistently low rates will need to be achieved in Boston to ensure everyone's health and safety.

“What we’re seeing in the last couple weeks is a little bit of up and down. We’ve gone as low as a 2 percent infection rate and then as high as 3.5 percent. In some ways it’s trending in the wrong direction or it’s not consistent,” he said.

“What we don’t want to do is get to a 4 percent rate that then turns to in 5 and 10 percent and then all of the sudden the restaurants we’re trying to help open are closing and all of the things we’ve done to try to contain the virus are gone and we’re back at square one. That is not what we need to do.”

Walsh said he will file an ordinance with the City Council on Monday that would require property owners that give tenants a notice to quit to also include information about their rights and other resources that the city can provide in multiple languages.

“It will provide information in multiple languages about resources in the Office of Housing Stability as well as state agencies that can help,” Walsh said. “This way, at the first step in the eviction process, tenants will have access to resources that can help them stay in their homes and help their landlords receive rents.”

“I know this is an issue that members of the council are concerned about so I hope we can work together next week to get this passed as quickly as possible.”