Walsh urges safety over 4th of July weekend

Seniors citizens should continue to stay home, mayor says

Mayor Martin Walsh on Thursday, joined by a host of public health and safety officials, urged Bostonians to continue taking measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and discussed illegal fireworks in the city ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

In a press conference outside of City Hall, Walsh announced the most up-to-date Covid-19 numbers as of Wednesday in the city: 13,467 recorded positive cases, 9,459 recoveries; and 700 deaths. There were no new Covid-19 deaths in the city, but Walsh said there are still new cases being record, including 14 yesterday.

“I urge everyone to think about the realities of these losses, the success we have had bringing these numbers down, and the ability we have to prevent further deaths moving forward,” he said. “Please, wear your face covering outside of your homes, keep practicing social distancing, do not engage in crowds or large gatherings. And we’re asking anyone who is over 65 years of age or medically vulnerable to stay within your house and not go out to gatherings.”

Walsh also addressed an ongoing quality of life problem that is likely to spike again this weekend: illegal fireworks.

“They’re causing trauma all across the city,” Walsh said. “I want to thank all of our community mobilizers, state and local reelected officials, and civic associations who are engaging in ongoing conversations around how to address this.”

Last week, the mayor created a fireworks “task force” headed by Jerome Smith, chief of civic engagement for the city. The body includes t-Large Councillors Michelle Wu, Michael Flahery, Julia Mejia and Annissa Essaibi-George. Today, Walsh announced that Boston Fire Commissioner Jack Dempsey and the Arson Team will also serve on the task force, as well at the Boston police Department’s Office of Community Engagement, and other “community leaders.”

BPD Commissioner William Gross, joined Dempsey and Boston EMS Commissioner Jim Hooley at the mayoral press conference.

Gross said the BPD’s received a “tremendous” amount of calls reporting illegal fireworks, some which have led to arrests in certain instances where officers have found illegal weapons as well as fireworks.

“BPD will have increased coverage in all neighborhoods [this weekend] so that we can answer your calls to service,” said Gross. “If you see something, say something. We have 400 guns off the street and that’s because of all of us together. Despite what people think about ’stop snitching,’ our neighborhoods are helping out.”

Dempsey noted that fireworks caused a daytime fire on the porch of a three-decker last July 4th and later that same night two three-deckers went ablaze, displacing 20 people. He added that last month, fireworks caused a “two-alarm fire.”

“Besides the property damage, there’s also the human toll,” he noted. “On top of that people have lost their eyesight, lost fingers, had hands blown off, and gotten serious burns. Just last week a person was struck by a firework and they’re still in the hospital to this day.”

Walsh was asked if he thought the cancellation of the annual fireworks display at the Esplanade is contributing to the dramatic uptick in fireworks.

“No, I think its greed from companies taking advantage of people and the situation, the companies that sell the fireworks being completely irresponsible,” he said. “It's more than people driving to New Hampshire. I’d be willing to bet there’s and organized concerted effort by these companies.”

Added Gross: “The people selling these fireworks could care less about us. It’s all about profit. So, we have to look out for each other. Thank God the mayor created a task force, because the onus is not only on the police department. It’s Independence Day, can we please think about the veterans that we're causing stress?”