Walsh urges face coverings, curfew

Boston faring fairly well so far during pandemic

WITH AN EXPECTED SURGE in COVID-19 cases approaching, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is encouraging everyone to wear a covering over their mouth and nose when they go outside and to abide by a curfew from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Walsh also said he is also shutting down all basketball, tennis, and other courts across the city and opening City Hall only on Tuesdays and Fridays. Except for the reduced hours at City Hall, which won’t start until Wednesday, the new initiatives all take effect tomorrow and will continue through May 4.

“I cannot stress enough that the actions we take now through the next several weeks will help curb the spread of this virus, and save lives,” Walsh said in a statement. “There is nothing that I won’t do as mayor of the City of Boston to protect our residents, and at this very critical time, we must do everything we can as Bostonians to protect one another. This is bigger than any one person — this is about the greater good of our people. Stay safe, stay inside, and let’s get through this together.”

Walsh’s announcement came amid conflicting evidence about the spread of the disease. Data issued by the state indicated both the spread of the disease and the number of deaths had slowed slightly on Sunday, while some medical officials said they were seeing a sharp uptick in patients.

Walsh also released data on Boston’s experience with the disease that suggested the city has fared reasonably well so far. The city said there were 1,877 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Boston residents as of Sunday, about 2.7 percent of the city’s population. The city said 15 people have died from the disease.

The Baker administration’s rough rule of thumb is that 1.5 percent of those who test positive for COVID-19 will end up dying. In Boston, the percentage is currently .8 percent.

The state data continue to indicate that Berkshire and Franklin counties have the highest COVID-19 death rates per in the state. Indeed, Boston has only two more deaths than Berkshire County, even though Boston’s population is five times bigger. Boston has only three more deaths than Franklin County even though Franklin County’s population is a tenth of the size of Boston.

The press release announcing Walsh’s new measures said people under 60 account for 80 percent of the positive COVID-19 tests in the city, while those under 40 account for nearly 45 percent. The release also contained this statement: “The CDC estimates that nationally 25 percent of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, and may not know they are a carrier of the virus, or that they could be infecting others.”

Statewide, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by only 6.5 percent on Sunday, less than half the rate of the last several days. The number of deaths totaled 15, down nine from Saturday and half the rate of the previous four days.

Even as deaths and cases moderated, some medical officials said their on-the-ground view of the situation indicated the pandemic was gaining steam in Massachusetts. Jon Santiago, a state rep and emergency room doctor at Boston Medical Center, tweeted out a video suggesting a shift that ended early Sunday morning saw a sharp increase in patients who were seriously ill.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Joseph Weinstein, chief medical officer at Steward Health Care, issued a statement saying “there has been a dramatic increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the last several days. Health care organizations are seeing a large increase in patients with severe symptoms that require mechanical ventilation and other forms of critical care.   In the last 24 hours, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has seen 1,334 people who were newly diagnosed with COVID19 and tragically we have seen 24 people die from this disease.”

Steward had earlier announced that it was designating Carney Hospital in Dorchester as a facility to treat COVID-19 patients. Steward announced on Sunday that it is opening new intensive care unit beds to COVID-19 patients at Carney as well as Morton Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center.