With frigid temperatures and subzero wind chills Tuesday, the City of Boston is taking steps to keep residents warm and prevent long lines at COVID-19 testing sites while the MBTA warns that the T may not be running on time.
Boston Public Library locations are all available for people to go inside and warm-up. The Boston Centers for Youth and Families will also be open as warming centers.
The MBTA warned riders should expect delays due to the frigid temperatures Tuesday. These arctic cold snaps have caused problems for the T in years past with the cracked rails on the exposed lines.
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ISO New England issued an alert for all of the region, warning that the abnormal conditions could limit capacity on their systems. They asked customers to limit use of electricity to prevent strain on the system.
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Part of the concern is the sudden drop in temperature. Thus far, the winter has been fairly mild and warm in Boston.
Throughout the day, the T will be checking that the third rail heaters are working and that there's no ice build up on the tracks or trains. Officials kept a number of trains and buses inside Monday night to protect the equipment. Throughout out the day, the T will ensure the trains don’t sit outside in the cold.
Tuesday will be a test as the MBTA says COVID-19 has already posed a challenge for staying on schedule. About 50 employees are currently out due to COVID-19.
School and COVID-19 testing at Boston Public Schools are closed Tuesday due to the extreme cold, but other testing sites remain open around the city.
"We're going to make sure that the Boston Public Schools students are safe because they're home and not going out in the cold waiting for a bus," Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said in an interview with NBC10 Boston, noting that COVID-19 rates in the community are high. "We do have planning in place to make sure that, school by school, we can go remote if needed so that students continue to have a high quality learning experience even if staffing challenges become a barrier."
The West End House Boys and Girls Club in Allston was scheduled to begin testing at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. At another site in Jamaica Plain Tuesday, heated tents were set up outside to keep people safe from the frigid temperatures in the event they had to wait outside.
The city of Boston extended testing hours at the Anna Cole Community Center in an attempt to alleviate long lines. Health officials are reminding residents to dress appropriately and promised to test as quickly as possible.
"We want to make sure that everyone bundles up if you have to go outside, but if you can all stay inside, please do," Wu said. "Check on your neighbors. Stay warm."
More on Extreme Cold
In this bitter cold, experts say people should wear layers and avoid exposing any skin. Frostbite and hypothermia are both concerns Tuesday.
Frostbite is the loss of feeling and pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and tip of nose. Anyone experiencing those symptoms should immediately seek medical help.
Hypothermia is when your body temperature drops too low. The symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If these symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1.
While out patrolling Tuesday, Boston police will be on the look out for those on the street. They will also be able to help get people to available shelters.