Mayor Marty Walsh warned Thursday that Boston is "at a critical point" in its fight against COVID-19, and that a second shutdown of the economy would be "far worse" than the first.
"What we're seeing in Tennessee and other parts of the country and other parts of the world, honestly, we cannot afford to have that in Boston," he said. "If we do, we're going to have to shut everything down again. The first one was bad on business. I think the second one will be far worse."
Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.
Boston reported 355 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the highest total since June, according to Walsh. He said Dorchester, Mattapan and East Boston are experiencing the highest case rates, followed by Roxbury and Roslindale.
"We are at another critical point," he said. "The last time I said something like that was probably back in May. We need to continue to work together."
Walsh said the way the virus is spreading "feels different" from the last surge, noting that he knows several people who have recently tested positive.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
"What my concern is, if we don't get this number under control, that number is going to grow even higher," he said. "It goes back to Washington -- 240,000 Americans have lost their lives due to COVID-19 with zero direction from the White House. And there's still no direction. The president of the United States hasn't shown his face in the last five days, and yesterday was the single largest day for COVID cases in the United States of America."
NBC10 Boston has learned a plan is in the works to bring 155 at-risk Boston students back to school as early as next week.
Right now, BPS is in fully-remote learning, but high-needs students could be back for in-person learning on Monday at four different schools four days a week.
The mayor also criticized proposed cuts to MBTA service, saying "this is not the way to move forward." He said cutting subway and bus routes would hamstring the recovery of the economy and make things harder for essential and frontline workers to get to work.
Walsh also provided an update Thursday on the city's police reform efforts, announcing a new Office of Police Accountability and Transparency aimed at increasing police accountability. And he said he signed executive orders to create a Civilian Review Board of the Boston Police Department and to turn the existing Community Ombudsmen Oversight Panel into a stronger Internal Affairs Oversight Panel.
Walsh last spoke on Sunday, one day after his good friend Joe Biden was projected as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
"We're here to mark a historic moment for the country and our city. I believe this election is good for Boston and good for America, not just because the residents of Boston voted overwhelmingly in favor," Walsh said Sunday. "Joe Biden has been here many, many times. He understands what makes Boston strong."
The mayor, however, has continued to squash any rumors that he might join Biden's administration.
"There's a lot of speculation, [but] you can't take everyone from Massachusetts to Washington with you," Walsh said. "I'm just looking forward to working with this administration. I’m just looking forward to getting back to having conversations with an administration that believes in science."
He again refused to entertain any notion that he might be joining the Biden administration on Thursday, or that he might run for U.S. Senate if Elizabeth Warren is named to a cabinet position.
"Right now, I'm 100% focused on the city," he said. "I'm honored to be mentioned, but I love my job as mayor."
He also said that he has not been contacted by Biden's transition team.