Virus notes: At Logan, no chaos, but uneven screening measures
A pause in evictions during coronavirus crisis
THE SITUATION AT Logan International Airport’s Terminal E on Sunday stood in sharp contrast to the mayhem that unfolded at Chicago’s O’ Hare Airport and at New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport where hundreds of people were closely confined for hours in customs lines as officials scrambled to impose new health screening for the novel coronavirus.
The Logan terminal was calm and mostly empty while passengers exited multiple international flights, but there were questions about how effectively the health screening protocol was being deployed.
A US citizen who traveled from Paris and landed in Logan Sunday said he was was medically cleared after completing a “Traveler Health Declaration,” put together by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as part of the public health response to coronavirus. Anyone coming from Europe, Iran, or China must fill out the form.
According to this passenger and other travelers who arrived at Logan on Sunday, US Customs and Border Protection officials initiated random temperature checks of arriving passengers for fever, a symptom of COVID-19. Their accounts echoed reports from passengers at other airports complaining that arriving international travelers are being inconsistently checked for fevers, in what seems like a loose protocol.
On March 13, the Department of Homeland Security named Logan one of 13 US airports to provide “enhanced health screening” for passengers who have been to a number of European countries in the last 14 days. The department has not answered inquiries seeking details on the health screenings it is imposing.
Meanwhile, the state medical examiner is testing the body of a Worcester man who died on a flight from Dubai to Logan Airport for coronavirus. State police say the 59-year-old was ill with “gastrointestinal problems” and went into cardiac arrest during the flight. Over 300 other people were on the flight that arrived in Boston on Friday afternoon.
Evictions paused during pandemic
Advocates seeking a temporary moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus outbreak will largely get their wish.
The Trial Court announced Friday that as of Wednesday, March 18, all non-emergency eviction proceedings will be continued until at least April 21.
The move was part of a larger effort that the court system is making to reduce the number of people going in and out of the state’s courthouses. Typically, around 40,000 people a day use the state’s 99 courthouses.
Emergency court matters will proceed as normal. But anyone with symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter the courthouse.
Separately, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Saturday that he had reached an agreement with the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, which runs the Massachusetts Apartment Association, and the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations to institute a moratorium on evictions in Boston for the duration of the state of emergency in Massachusetts.
While it is not mandatory for individual property owners, the groups are encouraging all property owners in Boston to postpone evictions for 90 days, with reviews every 30 days, for individuals financially affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Greg Vasil, CEO and president of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, said in a statement, “We understand the pressure residents are feeling during this crisis, and ensuring Bostonians have a safe, stable home is always our goal.”
The Boston Housing Authority also said it is suspending its filing and prosecution of non-emergency eviction cases in Housing Court.Supporters of a total eviction moratorium, led by the group City Life/ Vida Urbana called the postponement put in place by the courts a “critical first step,” but urged the Legislature to go even further. A bill filed by state Reps. Mike Connolly, a Cambridge Democrat, and Rep. Kevin Honan, the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing and a Boston Democrat, would essentially stay all legal proceedings statewide related to eviction, from the filing of a complaint to the seizure of a home, for as long as a state of emergency is declared.
Steve Meacham, coordinator of organizing at City Life/Via Urbana, said in a statement that the group favors the broader legislative approach. “The postponement is a huge step in the right direction, but it still allows executed evictions to go forward, encourages settlements out of court when residents have little access to legal aid, and ends on April 21st when the emergency could carry on far longer,” he said.