Mayor Walsh said today that officials have begun looking at how to use the South Boston convention center as a place to set up treatment stations and beds for Covid-19 patients, similar to the way New York City has been transforming its Javits convention center.
"Unfortunately, we'll have to build it, hopefully we'll never have to use it," he said. at a City Hall press conference.
Walsh said that the Boston Resiliency Fund has now exceeded its original $20-million fundraising goal and that it has begun to distribute its first $5 million in grants, with some going to groups such as Ethos, the Greater Boston Food Bank, Community Servings, Project Bread and Fresh Truck, to deliver food to people in need.
Other grants have gone to Boston Health Care for the Homeless, Boston Medical Center and the Pine Street Inn to deal with the growing needs of homeless people. The Pine Street Inn, for example, will use its grant to increase cleaning at its facilities and to hire more staff, he said.
He added that Boston is willing to help neighboring communities that cannot ramp up the sorts of services - such as isolation tents - that Boston is now providing its current homeless populations. "If we can assist any other city and town, we will," he said.
Walsh said he continues to talk to city councilors about possible freezes on rent and mortgages. "There's a lot of tenants and a lot of landlords that are really struggling right now," he said.
But as he did at his last press conference, Walsh urged homeowners to contact their banks to see if they now have programs to put off mortgage payments without penalties during the current state of emergency. He added that at some point, he expects to hold a conference call with local financial institutions to see what they can do to keep people in their homes. "I don't think banks are in the business of taking people's homes from them," he said.
Walsh said City Hall remains open, but that people who have business with the city that they can't do online should call 311 first to make an appointment.
He added that Boston residents who are feeling scared or depressed and have nobody to talk to should also call 311, where operators will connect them with people who can talk to them.
"There are a whole bunch of people in Boston who love you and care for you and want you to be safe," he said.
And he continued to stress the importance of residents staying at home except for getting food and medicine or for taking occasional mental-health breaks in the fresh air. Otherwise, he warned, hospitals will become overburdened, "people will die and more people will get infected."