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Boston coronavirus cases keep increasing; city could go into 'red' tonight, Walsh says

COVID-19 Media Availability 9-25-20

Mayor Walsh said today that Boston's positive Covid-19 test rate jumped to 3.5% for the week ending Sept. 26, up from 2.7% the week before - and that the rates in East Boston, 02125 in Dorchester and 02121 in Dorchester and Roxbury are now at 7%.

The statewide rate is now at 1%.

Walsh said he expects the state to color Boston red on its Covid risk maps with the release this afternoon of its weekly community data. The color means Boston is now showing at least 8 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.

Because of the number, Walsh said he is not following the state's lead in re-opening: Indoor performance venues in Boston will remain shut, there will be no increase in maximum numbers at outdoor venues and laser-tag and other indoor entertainment venues will remain shut. However, starting next month, two people will be allowed to share a golf cart at the city's two golf courses, he said.

Walsh said the return of college students has been partly to blame - although he credited local schools with doing an excellent job with testing and isolating infected students - but also the return of parties, in particular in Allston/Brighton, Mission Hill and South Boston. He urged people to stop holding parties and said people who get invites should do the right thing and not go.

He added that 50% of all new cases are among the city's Latino residents - and that 50% are in people 29 or younger.

"We're seeing small parties due to parties, due to college students and due to irresponsibility." Addressing college freshmen and sophomores, he said he's frustrated, they came here to live in Boston and be treated like adults.

"Well, then act like it," and stop threatening the health of Boston residents and the viability of businesses across Boston. Yeah, you might not get deathly sick, but you'll spread it to your parents, your grandparents, that lady in the supermarket "you cough on."

Walsh said that in addition to East Boston and the two Dorchester Zip codes, Allston/Brighton, Roxbury, Mattapan, Roslindale, South Boston and 02122 and 02124 have positive test rates above 4%. He said Roxbury, South End, Jamaica Plain, Charlestown, Back Bay and Fenway are under 3%.

The mayor said that BPS's phase in of "hybrid" learning, where students spend some time in classrooms, will still begin tomorrow, starting with high-risk students. He said he will not look at going back to all remote learning again until the citywide testing rate exceeds 4% or public-health experts give him a good reason to. He added parents can opt out of hybrid scheduling.

Walsh added the city got a new shipment of 10,000 Chromebooks this week for distribution to students who need them.

He said that so far, attendance in remote classes is about 90% - about the same amount as schools had when classes were held entirely in schools.

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in high test rate areas? Doesn't that mean that, looking at the neighborhood level, the hybrid model should absolutely be cancelled for now?

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BU is testing residential students every 3 days and non-res weekly and the positive rate (as indicated on the below link, though you have to look carefully for the weekly rate which is done by number of people, as opposed to the number of tests) is super low. Not so for other schools maybe? I haven't looked at their numbers specifically.

https://www.bu.edu/healthway/community-dashboard/

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We're not going to be at a state of zero COVID transmission for at least another year or two. Kids can't just take a couple years off from school. The special needs kids start out extra-challenged and need all the assistance they can get.

We have to move beyond the idea that we will protect every single person from having any chance of contracting COVID. With masks and distancing, school is safe and is the best place for most kids to be. I am NOT saying, "Throw open the doors and let's go back to normal!" If the virus gets out of hand again, we'll have to go back to more remote "learning", but for now, on balance, it's best to safely get students back to school.

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I had thought it was kids who don't have reliable internet and a suitable computer at home, but yeah, maybe this means English language learners (a pretty large group), or kids with mental or physical disabilities (smaller group).

I agree that it's too late for protecting everyone, but it seemed like a big messaging mismatch to say "these neighborhoods are at 7 fucking percent but hey, the city overall is 'only' at 4%, we're good".

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Just for clarity's sake, BPS is naming students as "high needs" (also termed "high priority for in-person learning") if they:
- are English Language Learners below a certain level of fluency,
- have special education services that are extensive enough to require a substantially-separate program of study (i.e. a kid who is in an autism strand is "high needs," but a kid who has dyslexia and gets 30 minutes of reading intervention a week is not),
- are currently experiencing homelessness, and/or
- are currently in the care of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) - this includes students in foster care and those who live with their biological families but have DCF involvement

My $0.02: it is important for there to be consistent, uninterrupted high quality education for these specific children (and all children, but those with additional needs should be prioritized), so I understand the push to get them back into schools as soon as is safe. However, in a situation like our current one, where certain areas of the city are well above the 4% positivity threshold, it doesn't feel safe - or fair - to ask students who already have the odds stacked against them in one way or another to be the guinea pigs who reenter school buildings first when data suggests this could only exacerbate their risk of exposure and related trauma/educational impacts.

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Dorchester, chelsea and roxbury are not walled cities. If you don't fight to protect every person from infection, people will die. It is very difficult to close down schools and businesses but it saves lives. Every single infection creates risk.

Kids are not taking time off school by remote learning. It is not effective in all cases but that can be fixed. Kids are getting chrome books and internet service.

I think the problem with in person school is the lack of testing. At least the colleges know immediately if they have an infections.

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college students are his scapegoat huh

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I think we should do testing at any in-person school. If it is too expensive to test then they should at least do that sewage testing.

Really, kids don't do social distancing. If you are the parent of a teen, get your kid tested.

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BU actually is testing - residential students every 3 days and non-res weekly. BU's positive rate is also super low. While students may be contributing (and I don't know what other schools are doing), I feel like BU students aren't necessarily the cause of the jump. https://www.bu.edu/healthway/community-dashboard/

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College age adults can be held responsible for social distancing. Kids cannot.

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Most kids at school will not be carriers (a few will). Most kids will wear their masks the majority of the time (a few won't.) Most kids who feel sick will stay home (a few will still come in.)

The place where kids at school are at the highest risk of spreading COVID is sitting in class, where they are stationary, near the same people for a prolonged period of time. In class is also where the teachers have the most control over making sure that Johnny keeps his mask on.

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Or test everyone that goes to school and keep them home when they test positive. You seem to be ignoring my point.

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There is decent compliance to most guidelines but it feels like the number of exceptions is growing.

Maybe it starts with the little things, like pulling a mask down when no one is around indoors, even though the virus "may" hang in the air for hours. Sure it's nitpicking, but that is just one of many steps towards dropping our guard.

And I have witnessed this in just about each Roslindale Square establishment I have frequented (on a daily basis). Now imagine what they do when you aren't present?

The complacency is growing, but that may just be human nature. It is hard to maintain discipline when the issue becomes remote.

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I feel like there's a pervasive attitude that since hard work is suppose to pay off with success in America, if you've done something unpleasant for a while, that should be sufficient. I agree that the longer we go without personally getting covid or losing a family member makes it feel like a remote problem, like a famine in Ethiopia or something.

An apt analogy is treading water: the amount of time a person spends treading water does not count even a second towards taking a break from treading water. You stop, you drown. Past effort counts for nothing.

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What hard work?

When was everyone covering their noses properly?

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Has there been any recorded evidence of someone getting COVID from entering in a space which was previously occupied but was vacant when entered? Actual recorded case, not a theoretical lab experiment.

People need to focus on the prime transmission vectors, not these extremely unlikely and theoretical situations.

The guy shopping with his nose exposed is a problem. The companies which don't enforce mask mandates are a big problem. The people holding big gatherings are a problem.

College students who are tested 2x weekly are not what's causing Boston's numbers to rise. (Look at their dashboards if you want proof.)

The complacency is growing, but that may just be human nature. It is hard to maintain discipline when the issue becomes remote.

No, it's hard to maintain discipline when people worry about the low risk situations instead of hammering down the high risk ones. Simply wear a mask when indoors and around others. If people did this, the numbers will fall considerably.

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I'm sure we could argue whether something has been proven or not until we somehow find ourselves on opposite sides of climate change. But that would be irrelevant since we appear to be in the same page.

To your quote...

Simply wear a mask when indoors and around others. If people did this, the numbers will fall considerably.

This is exactly what I am talking about in stores. People take down their masks in stores because no one is next to them at the moment. Then think pulling it up after someone is next to them resolves the whole issue.

Whether this is meaningful or not may be subject to dispute, but I don't like being a lab rat due to a failure in discipline.

I'm willing to admit that there are considerable known unknowns and acknowledge that an increase in cases does not prove my comments. I'm just observing that there appears to be a breakdown in discipline to the "prescribed" solutions.

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I don't believe it:

Yeah, you might not get deathly sick, but you'll spread it to your parents, your grandparents, that lady in the supermarket "you cough on."

Gee, that's not a condescending thing to say to your constituents or anything. "You're a savage who coughs on people at the supermarket." (Expletive) you, Marty. You sound like that Coakley moron. How's her career in exerting dominion over the public going?

Government sucks at every level. I wear my damn mask at the supermarket because the supermarket asked me to. "Two people can share a golf cart." Wow, what a profound and massively impactful bit of governance. It's like Veep, but it's our actual "leaders."

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...interesting(?) takeaway

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...interesting(!) person

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I think I'm missing the obvious.

Is the mayor saying the people who are having parties are the people who live in the neighborhoods where there are outbreaks?

So the increase in cases in East Boston is because people in Allston are having parties?

Is he saying that? Is he implying that? Is he simply grasping at straws?

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Implying the college students are putting their parents and grandparents at risk. Does he think most college students live at home? If anything, living in a dorm or with other college students is reducing the risk to the rest of their family. (If he's calling out UMass and Bunker Hill, he should say so.)

From what I've seen, the younger people are better about wearing masks in stores. It's the middle aged folks who think their nose is exempted.

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You can't even enter a campus building without special authorization.

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There's a narrative that makes partiers into the villains, and poor suffering grandparents as the victims.

It's certainly true that partying increases transmission risk, and the elderly are at the greatest risk of dying if they catch COVID. But there are also plenty of ways to spread it besides partying, and plenty of people besides a grandparent who faces consequences.

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the rates in East Boston, 02125 in Dorchester and 02121 in Dorchester and Roxbury are now at 7%

the return of college students has been partly to blame - although he credited local schools with doing an excellent job with testing and isolating infected students - but also the return of parties, in particular in Allston/Brighton, Mission Hill and South Boston

So um parties in Allston/Brighton, Mission Hill, and Southie are what's causing high positive test rates in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Eastie? Fenway/Kenmore typically has a large student population but the positive test rate is below the city average.

I get Marty feeling like he needs to scold because the city's numbers are headed in the wrong direction, but based on the testing numbers, he's not scolding the people driving the higher numbers.

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The numbers in Essex County are worse than in Suffolk lately. Is Essex County a hotbed of college students?

As of yesterday...

https://twitter.com/geep9/status/1311043424565579776?s=20

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Is likely due to the outbreak at Merrimack College.

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Thought that was middlesex. Stupid county lines!

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The signs at the county lines don't make it clear where you are. They just say "All is good and nothingness is dead."

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Don't help the Essex County numbers but the county would still be in the red zone even without that. Lawrence had over 300 cases, Lynn was close to 150, Haverhill was around 130, and Methuen had nearly 100.

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So um parties in Allston/Brighton, Mission Hill, and Southie are what's causing high positive test rates in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Eastie?

Maybe indirectly? Parties are next to choir practice for great spreading environments, and who staffs the retail establishments that the college kids visit when they're not partying?

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I would love to see journalists follow up on this, when Baker or Walsh start scolding people. Is there data to back up the scolding? Or does it just make them feel better to do it?

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Doesn't want college kids partying, but the City does absolutely nothing to stop all the millennialis, college douches and yuppies from house partying in the neighborhoods.
311 complaints are so numerous.

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