Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh warned Monday that police will continue dispersing crowds that gather amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and said officials are considering expanding the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew beyond May 4 as cases in the city and state continue to mount.
Speaking during a briefing outside City Hall, Walsh also said “kids aren’t going back to school” on May 4 and he’s “not too confident we’ll have [a resumption] of school this year,” adding that there “could be a different-looking situation in the classrooms” in September.
On Monday the state Department of Public Health reported that the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts had risen by 103, to 1,809. The state also reported 1,566 new cases, bringing the total to 39,643.
The number of new cases reported has been declining for four days, though state officials have cautioned against reading too much into daily changes given the variability in how laboratories report test results. The state also reported a total of 169,398 people in the state had been tested, up from 162,241 a day earlier.
In Boston, where the number of total cases stood at 5,749 on Monday, patients are being sent to the field hospital that has been constructed at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
As of Sunday night, the Boston Hope Medical Center, as it’s being called, had 162 patients, including 86 on the hospital side, and 76 on the respite side, which is for the homeless, according to Walsh’s office. The number of patients was 10 higher than the previous day’s count.
Half of the facility’s 1,000 beds are reserved for people experiencing homelessness who have “tested positive for the virus and need care, but not full hospitalization,” according to city officials.
Walsh, meanwhile, implored people to continue following the restrictions put in place to slow the spread.
The mayor reserved his strongest language for people who played golf over the weekend at city courses in violation of the ban on gatherings, as well as people responsible for gun violence in recent days that claimed the life of a teenage girl and wounded another teen and a 10-year-old girl in separate incidents.
“You’re a coward,” Walsh said of perpetrators of gun violence amid the pandemic, “and you will face justice.”
The gun violence that injured the 10-year-old on Saturday night in Roxbury was born out of a situation involving a crowd in an apartment, according to Walsh. The crowd, he said, ignored the city’s curfew brought on by the pandemic and other public health guidelines.
“This infuriated me,” he said.
Walsh also criticized golfers who took to courses at Franklin Park and in Hyde Park, including one young man he saw smiling on a course during a television news broadcast.
“Nothing to smile about,” Walsh said of the scofflaw. “Nothing to be proud of. Not impressive. [The course] is closed. That was a completely irresponsible move.” He added that the city and state are not playing a “game” by banning public gatherings.
“We’re doing it because we want to keep people alive,” Walsh said, adding that Boston police will be out dispersing crowds who violate the emergency order banning gatherings.
Asked if he was considering a citywide stay-at-home order or an order making his advisory to wear masks in public mandatory, Walsh said “we’re not there yet.”
Walsh said "we won't hesitate to send police officers, if necessary, to deliver citations" to people who gather in crowds.
Asked about the possibility of issuing fines to people who fail to maintain social distancing, Walsh said,"This is not something I want to do. I don’t want to put fines on residents who are already financially burdened."
In pandemic-battered New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio is increasing the maximum fine for violating social distancing rules to $1,000, which is double the previous highest amount, The New York Daily News reported over the weekend.
Prior to the briefing, Walsh’s office said in a statement that the city had expanded its COVID-19 informational text service to 11 languages including Somali, Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian, English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, French, Cabo Verdean Creole, and Portuguese.
“It’s important that the critical public health information we are sharing with our residents reaches every person in the language they speak so that collectively as a city we can be informed about the seriousness of this virus, and work together to stop its spread,” Walsh said in the statement. “I am glad that we’re further expanding our multilingual capacity by adding five additional languages to our text alert service.”
Jaclyn Reiss of the Globe staff and correspondent Shannon Larson contributed to this report.
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