Summer Update: COVID-19 and Boston
Updated: Sep 3, 2020
This serves as an update to an earlier published article on 04/13/2020 titled Spring Update: COVID-19 and Boston. This is an update regarding developments with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state of Massachusetts ended its stay-at-home order on May 18th, beginning its multiphase plan to slowly reopen the state. The phases are intended to last a minimum of three weeks if not longer, to prevent increases in cases. The state of Massachusetts has postponed its move into step two of its third phase, though as schools begin to reopen, some experts are advising a return to phase two to help further limit any potential outbreaks.
Boston continues to increase its amount of testing, providing testing at no-cost regardless of immigration status or insurance to residents with 23 testing locations across the city. Multiple sites have multiple language options available to residents.
Harvard University, Tufts University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and of course, Boston University, along with other universities throughout the city had closed campuses in March. However, as the fall begins to creep up, universities have made different decisions on whether or not to reopen campus. Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Berklee College of Music made decisions early on to keep campus closed for the fall semester, leading to a remote and virtual education.
Other schools such as Emmanuel College changed gears last minute to close campus and move to virtual instruction. Boston University and Northeastern Universities are charging ahead with hybrid schedules and strict testing and distancing procedures for on-campus students despite concerns from the Boston community. Students, hailing from all over the nation and globe, under state-guided quarantine and university testing, have slowly begun to trickle into the city this month.
The City of Boston still continues to provide both breakfast and lunch for Boston youth under the age of 18 at no cost to them with no necessary identification needed from Monday through Friday.
Public and private schools had also been closed by a gubernatorial order for their spring semester. The Boston Public Schools have not yet made a decision regarding their fall semester, asking districts to prepare three separate plans for a full re-open, hybrid option to return or stay virtual, or to keep schools closed and instruct virtually. Teachers and unions voice safety concerns, especially regarding southern schools who have reopened this August and have already closed again due to outbreaks. Boston Public Schools are intending to start classes on September 21, whether or not students will return to classrooms or Google Classroom is unknown.
City construction has slowly come back to life, with necessary approval of projects by both the city and the state. City construction must also adhere to the COVID-19 Safety Affidavits and COVID-19 Safety Plans set by the city of Boston.
Starting on May 6, Governor Baker has mandated that Massachusetts residents are required to wear a face mask or facial covering while in public spaces, indoor and outdoor. City parks with recreational sports areas have slowly reopened, very heavy encouragement on physical distancing and mandated mask-wearing. The Boston Public Libraries remain closed, but allow residents to order and pick up books, CDs, and DVDs through the BPL to Go program which can be accessed by calling a branch of the Boston Public Library, using their website, or by mobile app.
The Boston Public Health Commission continues to encourage residents to keep practicing good hygiene by washing hands frequently, not touching one’s face, and routinely cleaning and disinfecting things.
Boston has dramatically shifted since the spring. Boston and the state of Massachusetts remain wary of another outbreak, but continue to do their best efforts to protect residents and keep COVID-19 cases low which includes travel advisories and mandated quarantine and/or testing of any persons arriving from a high-risk state.
As of August 14, there are 14,750 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Boston with 10,875 recoveries and 743 deaths. As of August 13, there are 113,517 confirmed cases in Massachusetts.
Update 07/22/2020: Over twenty-one million cases have been confirmed worldwide.