Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller reported 10 additional deaths of residents who had COVID-19 since last week, bringing the city’s death toll to 96 people as of Tuesday.
Fuller, in a statement Wednesday night, said it feels inadequate to continue offering condolences each week to families of residents who have died.
“But, we must acknowledge these losses within our community and beyond and continue to recognize the significance of this tragic pandemic and try our best to comfort those who are grieving,” Fuller said.
She also said that the number of positive coronavirus cases had grown to 675, an increase of 90 cases since May 5. About 46 percent of those cases of COVID-19 have occurred in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Newton.
Last week, 86 Newton residents had died with COVID-19 as of May 5, Fuller said, while 585 residents had tested positive for the disease. At the time, Fuller said 94 percent of the people who died were age 80 or older.
Despite the deaths and additional coronavirus cases, Fuller said the city’s curve of new cases -- indicating the date when each case was reported -- has gone down since its peak in mid-April.
The percentage of people who are in “post-isolation” -- which Fuller said means they met the criteria of ending isolation after a COVID-19 diagnosis and are considered recovered -- has increased.
In Newton, 73 percent of people who have been diagnosed with the disease are “post-isolation,” she said, an increase of 2 percent since May 6.
On April 26, that figure was 56 percent, she said.
Newton on Wednesday launched its COVID-19 Emergency Housing Relief Program to help Newton households facing a loss of income due to COVID-19 and are struggling to pay housing costs, Fuller said.
The program is using federal Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus funds to cover 70 percent of an eligible household’s monthly rent for up to three months, she said.
Households must earn less than 80 percent of the area median income -- $96,240 for a family of four -- and must have a reduction in income due to COVID-19, Fuller said. Families already receiving rental assistance are also eligible for the program.
The city also kicked off its Newton COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Grant Program Wednesday to support the city’s smallest merchants, she said.
The grant awards will range from $10,000 for businesses with five employees or fewer, including the owner, Fuller said, and $15,000 for businesses with six to 20 employees.
“Program funds will provide businesses with assistance for commercial rent or mortgage, wages, loss of inventory, and other demonstrated costs,” Fuller said in the statement.
John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.