Boston Mayor Kim Janey on Thursday urged people to remain vigilant over the holiday weekend as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
"As Christians observe Good Friday tomorrow and prepare for Easter Sunday, I want to take a moment to remind everyone that COVID-19 is still with us," Janey said. "Have a talk with your family and set expectations for a safe holiday weekend. While many of us celebrate the good news of Easter this weekend, let's renew our commitment to keeping our families and communities safe from COVID."
Janey said Thursday that she continues to closely monitor coronavirus data with a team of health officials to determine whether any reopening adjustments need to be made. Earlier this week, Janey said she was considering implementing more stringent coronavirus restrictions in Boston, citing a "troubling" rise in cases.
The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is also watching the metrics closely.
“We will continue to closely monitor the data and make any decisions regarding reopening or rollbacks based on the metrics. We understand people are tired of this pandemic but the virus is still spreading in our City," a BPHC spokesperson said in a statement Thursday. "We are asking everyone to continue to take steps to protect themselves and each other: wear a mask in public, wash your hands often, avoid crowds, watch your distance and get tested regularly. And when it is your turn, get vaccinated.”
Boston reported 328 new confirmed cases Thursday, for a total of 64,321. Four deaths were reported, bringing the total to 1,345. According to the BPHC, 74% of the city's COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks are people 39 and under.
The city continues to see an increasing positivity rate, which is currently at 4.8%, up from 4.2%. That's a .9% increase, which translates into over 216 cases per day, Janey noted.
"We can all help continue Boston's recovery and reopening and we know all reopening milestones, like Opening Day at Fenway Park and outdoor dining in the North End can only continue if we all do our part to control the spread of COVID," Janey said. "Everyone please wear your mask, wash your hands and maintain social distance, and when your turn comes, get vaccinated."
Janey said she continues to monitor coronavirus activity across six key metrics: daily positive cases, daily percent of positive cases, community COVID tests, COVID related ER visits, available ICU and medical surgical beds and ICU bed occupancy.
Testing activity has also increased across the city neighborhoods, according to Janey, who encouraged Boston residents to get tested on a regular basis.
Janey also kicked off Boston's 30 Day celebration of National Poetry Month during Thursday's press conference. Throughout the month of April, Janey said the city will highlight the importance of the arts sector. She was joined by Chief of Arts and Culture Kara Elliott-Ortega and Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola, who presented a reading of original work.
"The arts play an important role in fostering Boston's economic civic and cultural recovery," Janey said. "I look forward to seeing and hearing how Boston residents explore the power of poetry this month."
Janey has been busy in her first full week on the job. She was sworn in as Boston's first Black mayor and first female mayor last week, a historic moment that put her in the national spotlight with appearances on "TODAY" and "The Rachel Maddow Show."
"It has been an amazing, what 10 days, 11 days now," Janey said Thursday. "An incredible first almost two weeks, great team here at City Hall, lots of amazing folks in our city who love the city and are doing everything possible to make sure that we come out of this pandemic stronger than before."
Since taking over for now U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Janey took part in a National Medal of Honor Day ceremony and visited small businesses in South Boston, got a dose of the coronavirus vaccine and announced a Vaccine Equity Grant Initiative to create equitable access.
Janey has called on the MBTA to restore pre-pandemic level service, announced a pilot program to support employees in Boston's five Main Street Districts, and also denounced allegations of overtime fraud against a former Boston police captain, calling them "disturbing," and "unacceptable."
Earlier this week, Janey unveiled a $50 million addition to the city's Rental Relief Fund in a bid to help renters remain in their homes and help landlords who are struggling.
Meanwhile, as she continues to closely monitor coronavirus data and considers reopening adjustments, the mayor has committed to working with Superintendent of Boston Public Schools Brenda Cassellius regarding school opening.
Boston students grades nine through 12 made a partial return to the classroom Monday as part of a mandate from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Boston Public Schools received state approval to delay the return to full-time in person learning for K-8 students until April 26, at Cassellius' request. Until then, students will continue on their current learning model, officials said.
School teachers in the district are prepared to return to classrooms after April vacation, Janey said last week, but said both Friday and again Tuesday that the city will continue to monitor coronavirus data.