No new coronavirus deaths were reported in Boston on Tuesday, Mayor Marty Walsh said at a news briefing Wednesday afternoon.
But the city still has a lot of work to do before life return to normal, Walsh said, and wanted to encourage the public not to think of May 18, when Massachusetts will being to reopen, as the end of social distancing.
"A day with no deaths to report is certainly a good day but we still have work to do if we want to see that every day," Walsh said outside City Hall.
Boston's death toll was at 533 on Tuesday, the most recent day the statistic was available, according to Walsh. That's the same as it had been on Monday -- one of many good signs in the city and across the state, which on Tuesday reported just 33 new deaths, a new low since the coronavirus surge that was due in part to a reporting issue.
Still, Walsh sought to temper Bostonians' expectations on reopening, saying that it will be done cautiously and based on data, and that the city won't simply be back to usual on May 18.
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"I want to warn people if we open too soon, or we let down our guard, we could get spikes in cases faster," Walsh said, noting that a second spike would be worse for the economy than reopening slowly.
There have been over 11,100 cases of the coronavirus in the city and about 3,800 of them have made full recoveries, according to Walsh. And while the numbers have been dropping in the last few days -- partially due to fewer people being tested, partially because "the physical social distancing is working" -- his concern is that, with warmer weather expected in the coming days and weeks, people will congregate, and that will re-accelerate the spread of the virus.
Walsh also announced Wednesday that the Boston Tax Help Coalition, which regularly helps residents file their taxes, is "pivoting to provide help right now on stimulus checks."
The federal government is providing up to $1,200 per person as stimulus spending to help people through the coronavirus crisis, but Walsh said that his administration has learned that some residents haven't been able to get their payment.
People who do not usually file tax returns have to file an IRS form to get the payment, which the Boston Tax Help Coalition can help with. To reach them, call 781-399-5330 or 311.
At his last news briefing, on Monday, Walsh said the city was looking at ways to expand space for pedestrians, bicyclists and small business customers to allow for social distancing as the state gets ready to reopen the economy.
“The things we are thinking of include expanding sidewalks in business districts that can help with physical distancing, especially where people wait in line," he said.
Since then, the City Council has held a meeting on the subject, and while Walsh didn't have any updates, he said he's excited to make it happen and has been encouraging members of his administration to keep an open mind.
"I'm asking people not to say no off the bat," he said.
The mayor also pledged Monday to continue to support Boston's nursing homes, which have accounted for almost 50% of the city's COVID-19 deaths.