Walsh Calls Out People Gathering in Boston Parks During Coronavirus Outbreak

A testing site dedicated only to Boston's first responders will open Saturday at Suffolk Downs, the mayor said

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Mayor Marty Walsh took aim Friday at Boston residents who are still gathering in public places like parks despite the stay-at-home orders meant to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Predicting that the city's stringent measures could last through May or even July, Walsh reiterated his message to Bostonians that staying at home and socially distancing when outside the home will save peoples' lives.

"If we each do our part … to stop the spread, then we'll get through this quicker," Walsh said at a news conference outside City Hall. "If we continue to be, in some cases, not responsible to yourself and others, this is going to go on."

The mayor threatened to identify problem areas if people continue to do things there like play sports together. The problem their gathering poses is that they get the coronavirus and spread it to people in their homes, who might work in hospitals or other critical areas and spread it there.

"If we each do our part as humans and individuals to stop the spread, then we'll get through this quicker," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at a news conference Friday, but without that, stay-at-home orders will drag on.

So far, hundreds of Boston residents have tested positive for coronavirus, Walsh said. Two Bostonians have died and 40 have recovered.

The current numbers reflect how far the virus had spread up to two weeks ago, Walsh noted, not how many people are currently infected -- the coronavirus takes days to show up in people, if it causes symptoms at all. He added that whether or not there is a decrease in the numbers in two weeks' time will be the measure of the city's mitigation efforts so far.

Footage from NBC10's Skyranger helicopter showed large numbers of people gathered at Castle Island Friday afternoon.

As the need for protective supplies for nurses and physicians increases, North Bennet Street School students and faculty are pitching in.

Walsh also announced that a testing site dedicated only to Boston's first responders will open Saturday at Suffolk Downs in East Boston. So far, multiple Boston firefighters, eight city police officers and at least one EMT have all tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in recent days.

"This is an important step to keeping our first responders safe and healthy and we have to do that because our first responders are our front-line folks," Walsh said.

Additionally, more than 150 employees of Boston area hospitals have tested positive as the crisis continues to deepen.

Concerns are growing about how best to protect first responders during the coronavirus outbreak, with protective gear hard to find.

Walsh said that most of the city has been doing a good job of social distancing and touted the civic spirit showed by people and organizations adapting to life during a pandemic. He noted that Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are moving online, and even said he would be attending his first virtual one Friday night.

He also asked everyone to be kind and patient in these unprecedented times: “The virus doesn’t discriminate. Neither should we. This is not a time for scapegoating, stigmatizing anyone.”

Also Friday, Walsh said that the city's drivers will no longer be ticketed for expired inspection stickers or registration during the crisis.

And the city is loosening up parking restrictions, with so many people working from home.

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