BOSTON (CBS) — The first COVID-19 testing facility for Boston first responders will open at Suffolk Downs, Mayor Marty Walsh announced Friday. “First responders will be screened to make sure they meet the state criteria for testing. The pilot will start this weekend. This is an important step to keeping our first responders safe and healthy and we have to do that because our first responders are our front line folks,” Walsh said.
He also reminded residents of the need for social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic Friday. “The message is really clear: stay at home, it will save lives if you stay at home and don’t spread [coronavirus],” he said.
While residents are encouraged to go outside and get fresh air, there should not be any gatherings or group sports going on in parks.
Walsh said, “If this doesn’t change, I’m going to start naming locations in the City of Boston that this is happening in so people will know that you shouldn’t be there.”
Families with school children who need meals provided by the school can continue to pick up those meals under the stay-at-home advisory. “We want people to know you can and should go to get the meals if you need them. You will not get in trouble leaving your home to access food is an essential item, it’s something that is important for you to do for your family,” said Walsh. “Just remember to keep practicing social distancing.”
According to Walsh, the city is giving an average of 13,000 meals to students each day and that number is rising. Meal sites have also begun to offer hygiene and menstrual products. About 20,000 laptops have been given out to continue at-home learning in Boston.
“One of the most important things we can do right now is stay home, but the reality is not everyone has a home. To all of our homeless neighbors, we want you to know that we are working around the clock to protect and support you. All of our shelters remain open. We have conducted regular deep cleanings and sanitizing in our facilities. Our street outreach teams are still working every day to engage the people who need them,” Walsh said. “We are creating facilities where people can quarantine, receive care and recover. Two of those locations opened this past week next to our shelter in the South End. They provide space for people quarantining and receiving medical attention. We are currently working with local institutions to add more locations for quarantine, care and temporary housing in Boston. We expect that these additional locations will be operational in the next week, and when they are I will announce them.”
Another concern for Boston residents is parking. Walsh said, “Residents with valid resident parking stickers will now be allowed to park in metered or 2-hour parking spaces with no time limit or meter fees within their specific neighborhoods…Also until further notice, the Boston Transportation Department will no longer be issuing tickets for expired inspection stickers or registrations.”
As of Friday, there were 477 coronavirus cases in Boston, Walsh said, an increase of 113 since Thursday, when there were 2,417 cases statewide. Forty Boston residents have fully recovered.
“This is a very challenging and difficult time for a lot of us. I’m asking people to be kind to each other.”