Kim Janey held her first press conference as Boston’s acting mayor on March 26, where she provided updates on COVID-19 and vaccinations in the city, as well as received her first vaccination.
“We know that people of color are more likely to get COVID-19, and if they do, they are more likely to die,” Janey said.
Janey provided a number for the Equity Access Line—617-635-5555—that residents can dial to get help with booking a vaccine appointment. She said that residents should press one if they are a Boston resident 65 years old or older, and press two if they are a resident who is currently eligible to receive the vaccine and is also a person of color.
“Latest data indicates that the Equity in Access Line is making an impact,” Janey said.
She also spoke of the city’s vaccine equity grant initiative, which is providing $1.5 million “to support nonprofit organizations” that are creating “equitable access” to the vaccine and “breaking down barriers.”
Janey said that “as we begin a new chapter in our city, we are inviting new partners to the table in our fight against COVID-19.”
She said that while there were no new deaths reported in the city, there were 225 new confirmed cases in Boston from data available at the time of the press conference.
“We must remember that COVID is still with us,” she said. “We must continue all the practices that keep us safe.”
Janey said that there were “certainly a few bumps in the road early on,” as the vaccine supply from the federal government was not very high. “Those supplies are increasing every single day,” she said, adding that she is “grateful to partner” with Governor Charlie Baker and others on rolling out the vaccine.
She said that she believes it is “important” to keep up the work that has been proven to work in the city, and to ramp up efforts like the mobile vaccination clinics to bring the vaccine to each and every resident who wants it.
On March 30, Janey held another press conference, where she spoke about the increase in cases seen among people younger than 29 years old. She said that as of Monday, there were 130 new confirmed cases of COVID in the city, and two new deaths.
“More than half of the new cases in the past two weeks have come from Bostonians under the age of 29,” Janey said. “Let’s all work together to keep ourselves and our community safe.”
She added that “more than 30 percent of Boston’s total population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Janey said she would reverse parts of the reopening plan if the public health data shows that it is necessary.
“I continue to be worried about this pandemic and how it is impacting the residents of the city,” Janey said. “I will work closely with our public health chief and the public health commission to ensure that we are looking at the data closely so that if we need to make any adjustments that we will do so. I think it is troubling any time we see an increase in activity and so we will continue to watch closely so we can adjust if we need to roll back some of the loosening of the restrictions that have already happened at the state level.”
Janey also spoke about the CDC’s announcement that it will extend the eviction moratorium through June 30.
“This protection will be a lifeline for families struggling to recover financially,” Janey said. “I applaud the CDC for extending eviction protections for families in Boston and across the country.”
Janey announced on Tuesday that $50 million in additional funds will be available through Boston’s Rental Relief Fund.
“This new funding will help renters remain in their homes and help landlords who are struggling,” she said, adding that this is being done with the help of “nonprofit partners.:”
She also said that “we are working together to protect public health, promote housing stability, and ensure equitable recovery from this pandemic.”
The funds will also help families pay for things like utilities, including internet service, Janey said. They can also help pay for moving costs like first and last month’s rent as well as a security deposit.
“The Rental Relief Fund has provided critical support to nearly 1900 households who are at risk of eviction due to COVID-19,” Janey said. “These new funds will do even more.”
Janey also addressed the fraud charges brought against former Boston Police Captain Richard Evans.
“The allegations of fraud announced today against retired police captain Richard Evans are disturbing,” she said, adding that “any fraud is unacceptable. It breaks public trust. It dishonors the thousands of officers who serve our communities every day with honesty, integrity, and bravery.”
She continued, “I am committed to uncovering and rooting out behavior among officers that is inconsistent with our community values. We will continue to work collaboratively to implement community driven police reforms and I am committed to ensuring the people of Boston can have full confidence in their police force. This includes our work to establish the new Office of Police accountability and transparency for the City of Boston. Working together, we will increase accountability and transparency in all of our work.”