Boston's Covid-19 numbers continue to show progress, Walsh says

'Pissed off' Gov. Baker pledges to fix failed website

On a day when officials struggled to get the state’s vaccine appointment system back online after a frustrating website crash this morning, Boston continued to post encouraging numbers that show a steady decline in Covid-19 cases.

Mayor Martin Walsh said Thursday that the city’s numbers are at the lowest point since last October. Data for the week ending Feb. 11 put the city’s 7-day average of new confirmed cases at 209, which Walsh called a “steady decline.” On Thursday, 201 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 2 related deaths were recorded.

“Our daily cases have continued to go down since the end of January,” Walsh said. “Our community positive rate is at 4.2 percent, below our 5 percent threshold and the lowest we’ve seen it since October. I’m grateful to see these numbers going in the right direction,” said Walsh.

Walsh urged all residents to continue getting tested for Covid-19 regularly, avoid large gatherings, and follow all public health guidelines.
“We need everyone to stay focused on safety as businesses reopen and we are enforcing public health in the city,” he said.

The city’s Licensing Board is holding hearings every Monday to address complaints that come in over the weekend. Walsh said that the city’s Inspectional Services Department is working on outreach with restaurants and hotels ahead of St. Patrick's Day on March 17.

In terms of the vaccine rollout, the mayor said that the city continues to work with the state and was pleased to see that Gov. Charlie Baker included moderate to severe asthma as a qualifying condition that would make an individual eligible for a vaccination in the latest phase of the rollout plan.

Walsh said the city is committed to increasing equity in its rollout, by focusing outreach in communities of color and immigrant communities through partnerships with Community Health Centers and nonprofits.

“The supply of vaccines will continue to be the major factor,” said Walsh. “As we continue to get more doses, you’ll continue to see more places when you can get vaccinated.”

Following the Thursday morning failure of the state's vaccine appointment website —as 1 million more people became eligible to get the vaccine—Gov. Charlie Baker took to the airwaves to pledge that the issue would be fixed.

"My hair's on fire about the whole thing. I can't even begin to tell you how pissed off I am," Baker said on GBH's "Boston Public Radio" when asked about the website debacle just after noon. He later added, "This is not satisfactory ... it's awful. It's going to get fixed and I'm going to work very hard to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Heavy traffic torpedoed the state's vaccination scheduling website as more than 70,000 appointments were to be made available at 8 a.m. to the seniors and people with multiple health complications who newly qualified for a vaccine Thursday morning. The state said it had not added those appointments to the system by the time it failed.

People visiting the website after 8 a.m. Thursday were met with the message that "this application crashed." Visitors were advised to try again later. The website was back up at about 10 a.m., though some people reported persistent troubles with it.

"People are working really hard to get it fixed and we know how important it is for people to have it fixed and to be able to access all those new appointments," Baker said on GBH. "It's gonna get fixed as fast as it needs to get fixed and, like I said, people did a lot of work preparing for this but clearly they didn't do enough. And I know how important it is to people to get their shots."

When asked what they biggest barriers face the city in terms of vaccine rollout, Marty Martinez, the city’s chief of Health and Human Services replied: “One is supply, it would be great if we had more supply because we could have more access points and then vaccinate more people. There are also still people who are hesitant to be vaccinated so we’re focused on outreach. And a third is making sure that people have accurate information about the vaccine.”

Starting next week, the city will be releasing data with demographics on who has been vaccinated in the city.
“The data right now is moving in the right direction to get past Covid,” added Martinez.

State House News Service reports contributed to this article.