Thursday, May 21, 2020

As the Covid-19 crisis engulfs East Boston, the YMCA's pursuit of community wellness shines through

Shifting gears, East Boston YMCA stays true to its mission: Community Wellness; Cargo Ventures' donation arrives at critical point for YMCA

The historic landmark building where the East Boston YMCA calls home is quiet. Its 2800 members remain at home and not at its Bremen Street facility or at its satellite location on Ashley Street.

The exercise classes are gone, for now. So are the teenagers who check in over the weekend for programs. The applications for the Y's summer camp are up for discussion. And so are the swimming lessons, the YMCA's traditional staple, blocks away at the Umana Academy. Like many other social service agencies, the YMCA is facing a loss of revenues to support its programs.

But the YMCA is far from closed. And it is certainly not down and out. It is ground zero for providing community support in a neighborhood that is severely swamped by the COVID-19. According to the Boston Public Health Commission, East Boston has the highest percentage of coronavirus cases in the city.

The austere brick building which was once the Boston and Albany engine house and located along the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway has emerged a critical center of activity not only distributing food but also providing child care for front line workers.

"We're the only child care facility in East Boston for front line workers for free of charge," notes YMCA Executive Director and East Boston native Joseph Gaeta. Moreover, the Y is spearheading food distribution, along with the City of Boston and Project Bread, to make sure children and families receive healthy meals during the pandemic here in Eastie.
"A lot of our parents are doctors, nurses, EMTs, UPS drivers, Post Office employees and Stop and Shop workers. All of these workers are essential. Being able to provide our front-line workers a safe place for their children while they support our community is very important to us at the Y."

Little did Gaeta know that he'd be leading relief efforts in a major health crisis in his hometown. "I worked my way through every job to be executive director," he said. "I don't ever expect to distribute personal protection equipment (PPE) and face masks."
The YMCA has always stressed health and wellness in its programs. Some of the ones now in a holding pattern include not only the group and personal exercise routines but the LiveStrong programs for cancer patients and diabetes control. The transition to providing nutrition is natural for the East Boston YMCA.

Some of the Y's members are still paying their dues so that they can keep the programs going. Members are aware their dues enable free programs to feed people. "They know the money is going to feeding children," explains Gaeta. They are also busy making calls to check up on fellow members.

But unfortunately, the needs increase.

"Right when we think we have a steady stream to fill the need, it doubles the next day," says Gaeta, "We serve about 20,000 meals a week just out of Bremen Street," says Gaeta.

"Sometimes we run out and have to turn people away or refer them to another partner. Because of the generous donation from our friends at Cargo Ventures we are able to fill gaps and extend our reach to families directly when we do run out of our daily meals."

Cargo Ventures, the industrial real estate and logistics firm, stepped up to the plate with a major donation to the Y just when the crisis broke. The Cargo Ventures donation enabled the Y to purchase gift cards for its members and the community.

"Cargo Ventures is pleased to help out this extraordinary organization," says Pat Capogreco, the firm's liaison to the community. "The staff members at the Y are working hard every day so that needy families in East Boston are fed. They are doing a tremendous job. As in East Boston resident and employee of Cargo Ventures, I am grateful that I can get help for the YMCA."

The YMCA is also using its resources to extend support beyond East Boston. Gaeta says its Ashley Street location has doubled up as a citywide kitchen staffed with two chefs that provide meals. The first chef also provides halal meals for East Boston's growing Muslim population while preparing 200 to 300 meals each time he cooks. The second chef is working with the city of Boston to produce 500 meals not only for East Boston but Dorchester and Roxbury.

"It's hard to figure out what's next," says Gaeta. He notes that the summer camp might take place during Phase 2 of the governor's reopening plan and maybe some semblance of normality not much later for online fitness, perhaps as early as June 29. The summer camp program draws 300 local kids.

The agency supports a pre-school program for 93 children, weekly programs for 75 seniors and afterschool programs for 200 children.

Teleconferencing online has kept everyone connected and in shape. Members have access to virtual fitness options that are streamed live and archived for usage on-demand.

Visit the East Boston YMCA's web site here.

You can support the Y with an online donation here.

Read more local news at

Photographs courtesy of the East Boston YMCA.

Walsh announces distribution of $4 million to support small business in every neighborhood, in most impacted industries due to Covid-19

New platform created to help businesses source personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to protect employees and customers as economy begins to reopen
(BOSTON - Thursday, May 21, 2020) - Continuing a policy of rapid, equitable, and transparent relief and support from the COVID-19 pandemic to all Bostonians, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that nearly $4 million in debt-free grants have been distributed to over 1,100 small businesses in every neighborhood across the City of Boston through the Small Business Relief Fund, including the $2 million distributed to businesses earlier this month. The businesses receiving grants represent industries most-impacted by closures, policies, or general loss of revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout every neighborhood in Boston.

"I've said it many times: small businesses are the heartbeat of our economy, and they provide residents with the services they depend on every day," said Mayor Walsh. "Through the Small Business Relief Fund we have been proud to support Boston's small businesses with a swift and direct infusion of funds through a fiscally responsible and equitable system that will help businesses stay open, pay employees, and strengthen our local business districts."

Of the nearly $4 million that has been distributed, the top five industries funded represent small businesses in the most-affected industries, including hospitality, personal care, arts and recreation, retail, and healthcare and social assistance (home childcare, family services, personal and home care aide, etc). Of the businesses receiving grants so far, 95% have 15 or fewer employees, 52% are owned by people of color, 49% are women-owned, and 46% are immigrant-owned. Grants from the Small Business Relief Fund have been crucial to the survival of many Boston businesses, and serve as a lifeline for businesses that experienced difficulty navigating or accessing financial assistance through the Federal CARES Act. A full list of businesses that have received funding is available here.

"I want to thank Mayor Walsh and the Economic Development Office for all of their hard work and help. Natalia and the Small Business team made the entire process very easy and the steps that the city has taken to keep us informed, as well as assist those in need, has blown me away. I've strengthened my faith in this city because of this experience," said Kandace Cummings of Anita Kurl Salon in the South End.

"Thank you for your support in this time of hardship, this gesture has made me feel part of a community," said Ramon Zapata, of the AlbertStyle Barbershop in Dorchester.

Managed by the Mayor's Office of Economic Development (OED), this fund was designed to disburse grants through a streamlined process without having to assume additional debt, which can be used to address rent, fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, lost sales, lost opportunities, and other working capital expenses. Through a combination of City, Federal, and private funds, a total of $7.5 million has been made available to fully fund all remaining eligible grant requests that were submitted during the application process. 

To further assist the City's small businesses, the City of Boston has created a new platform to help businesses source the personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies they will be required to have available in order to ensure the safety of employees and customers as industries begin to reopen. Along with industry-specific reopening requirements, the page includes a list of self-identified, local suppliers of PPE and cleaning supplies, information on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' vendor database, and partner organizations helping to connect businesses with vendors.

As business owners, employers, and employees navigate an evolving COVID-19-related assistance landscape, the Economic Development Office has created a Federal Assistance Guide, Financial Relief Handbook and FAQ document, all of which are continuously updated. Small Business conference calls will continue every Tuesday at 3pm to communicate policy updates, answer questions, feature relevant City of Boston departments, and troubleshoot the ecosystem of funding available from the state, federal, and private industry. 

The City of Boston has created a number of useful guides and resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The Open Businesses in Boston and Support Boston Restaurants platforms have helped businesses to publicly share that they are open and direct residents into supporting local establishments. The above resources and more industry-specific guidance are accessible on For all coronavirus updates from the City of Boston, please visit

Monday, May 18, 2020

Answering the call in a crisis, East Boston Community Soup Kitchen delivers for families

Cargo Ventures pitches in when it matters

In 2016, Sandra Nijjar found herself without a job, a stark challenge for a resident where the cost of living in Boston increases every day. But unemployment wasn't an obstacle. If there was not a job out there for her, she came up with an idea and created one for herself although it was not a paying job but it certainly was a dream to help the most vulnerable in a more consistent manner.

However, after about four months of being unemployed, Nijjar was recalled from her previous employer as a seasonal and was given Tuesdays off and her pay was prorated so she could continue her soup kitchen's effort which she was not willing to give up on.

With a burning desire to help the neighborhood's homeless, she started the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen. Located at the Our Savior Lutheran Church on Paris Street, Nijjar grew a food pantry and soup kitchen that today serves 40 to 50 men and 250 families. "The help from East Boston is overwhelming."

Despite the growing prosperity that comes with new development, people living with food insecurity are growing and sometimes in the shadows. "I noticed that we have a population of middle-aged men without families and without small children who are addicts and live on the streets; and pretty much without any help, particularly the undocumented folks."

The soup kitchen is more than just food, she says. "My goal is to use food as a tool where men can then be connected to the services they need to become sober."
The East Boston Soup Kitchen also does a lot of advocacy work for its patrons such as making connections to existing services in the area when folks need a shower, clean clothes, detox services and even help with health insurance paperwork.
She says that she is blessed to have the support of the Our Savior's Lutheran Church and the many volunteers that have lent a hand over the years. "Everyone is pitching in."

Nijjar says the key to success is not only to be welcoming but non-judgmental. "No one is perfect and everyone has a story." She notes that some of her patrons suffer from childhood trauma or mental illness. The turn-arounds are tinged with sadness. "Once they are sober I don't see them anymore."

Like most small community-based human service agencies, Nijjar makes a dollar stretch. She collects perfectly edible food from local restaurants. "We really don't waste food here."

That challenge of organizing, setting up and securing community support for the pantry nearly four years ago, pales in comparison to what she faces today: How to feed the homeless middle age men in the age of the coronavirus one of the neighborhoods most besieged by the novel disease. East Boston has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 infections and the virus has hit minorities the hard.

On March 10 the kitchen closed. But Nijjar's work didn't stop then even though she didn't report to a kitchen anymore. She started getting the word out to local organizations and supporters such as Resurrection Church.

Any work during the shutdown required funding. It was just as the city was putting its stay-at-home policy in place that Nijjar received a call from Pat Capogreco, community liaison for Cargo Ventures, who asked "'How can we help?'"

The industrial real estate and logistics firm kicked in much-needed cash.  Food that was once prepared, served and consumed in the church basement was now made available by vouchers, gift cards and references to local eateries such as Taco Mex, Meridian Food Market, La Casa Del Pandebono. Cargo Ventures picked up the tab for all the meals without asking how much the meals would cost.

"Cargo Ventures is my life-saving angel to say the least. They reached out the first day we closed," says Nijjar.

"As an East Boston resident and Cargo Venture employee I'm very happy to be in a position to help out the soup kitchen which is helping people in the community who are in need," notes Capogreco.

Such help is inspiration for the future. Nijjar would like a more permanent place for the soup kitchen on this side of the Boston Harbor. Even though East Boston is a highly desirable place to live, it remains isolated. That makes it harder for the vulnerable who have to find their way to downtown Boston.

Competition for real estate is fierce but the East Boston Soup Kitchen has proved that it can overcome any crisis. By being there in the most trying crisis in modern times for the people who need it most, Nijjar, her band of volunteers, network of eateries and supporters like Cargo Ventures, have the will to make it happen.

"Sandra is very dedicated in her cause working hard to help people," says Capogreco.

To learn more about the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen, visit its website here.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Mayor Walsh, MGH announce results of antibody and COVID-19 testing for Boston Residents

BOSTON - Friday, May 15, 2020 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh, together with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), today announced the study to evaluate community exposure to COVID-19 through a representative sampling of asymptomatic Boston residents resulted in 9.9% testing positive for antibodies and 2.6% of currently asymptomatic individuals testing positive for COVID-19. In conclusion, approximately 1 in 10 residents in this study have developed antibodies and approximately 1 in 40 currently asymptomatic individuals are positive for COVID-19 and potentially infectious. 

"We can draw two preliminary conclusions from the results of this study," said Mayor Walsh. "First, that the actions we took early on in this pandemic made a real difference in slowing the spread and, second, that the majority of our population still have not been exposed to the virus. This underscores what we already know, that we have to move cautiously and stay focused on what got us this far. This can be done by a gradual, phased-in approach to reopening that includes clear health criteria and safety guidelines for each industry and depends on testing and hospital metrics reaching certain benchmarks, and continuing to move in the right direction." 

More than 5,000 residents living in East Boston, Roslindale or within the boundaries of zip codes 02121 and 02125 in Dorchester were invited to voluntarily participate in the study, with total outreach representing more than 55% people of color. Approximately 1,000 residents expressed interest in participating and 786 residents were deemed eligible. Of those, 750 residents enrolled in the study and received the required testing. Residents with symptoms or a previously positive COVID-19 test were disqualified from the study.

"Making sound decisions about safely reopening requires that we understand how extensively the virus has already spread in our community," said Peter L. Slavin, MD, president of Massachusetts General Hospital. "The testing that the teams from Boston and the MGH conducted shows that approximately 90 percent of the city's residents have not yet been exposed to the virus. We also know that COVID-19 will be with us for a while. It is vital therefore that we be thoughtful and careful about reopening, and that we continue to take actions - wearing masks, physical distancing, working from home when possible, limiting gatherings - that can prevent another surge of the disease."

Testing was conducted at three drive through testing sites in East Boston, Roslindale and Dorchester. Testing for COVID-19 virus is done by means of a swab of the nose and determines if you have the infection. Antibody testing is done by means of blood drawn through a finger prick and detects whether your blood has antibodies that are present when the body is responding to an infection, like COVID-19. Any resident who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus or the COVID-19 antibodies was provided with clear guidance and information on how to care for themselves and those around them.

This announcement builds on Mayor Walsh's commitment to increase access to testing for Boston residents, which will allow for better understanding of the spread and inform a path to recovery. Boston is currently offering testing in over 20 locations, including hospitals and community health centers. During April 30 and May 7 alone, Boston had a 30 percent increase in the amount of testing happening citywide. By the end of last week a total of 36,072 tests had been conducted.

On Monday, Mayor Walsh announced that the City's first round of universal testing for all unhoused individuals in Boston was completed. Over 2,200 homeless individuals were tested, with 743 testing positive for a 32% infection rate. In addition, Mayor Walsh is working on universal testing at city substance use residential programs.

Through the Boston Resiliency Fund, the City has dedicated $1.24 million to expand COVID-19 testing and conduct culturally appropriate outreach and education at 17 community health centers in Boston neighborhoods. A full map of testing sites is available here. The map includes contact information for the testing site and it is updated as new sites come online. Residents who are sick and want to be tested should call ahead to be pre-screened and schedule an appointment. Residents will not be charged for testing and residents will not be asked about immigration status. 

In addition, the City of Boston has made available weekly data on testing at the neighborhood level, with new reports including the number of people tested, and positive testing rates for each neighborhood. The latest data was shared on Thursday, May 7 and can be found here

Background here

Thursday, May 14, 2020

COVID testing at the Health Center

East Boston business receive aid from City's Small Business Relief Fund

File Photograph: EBDOTCOM Archives

Remarks from the Mayor's office 5/14/2020

"The Small Business Relief Fund grants are critical to help struggling small businesses across the city address challenges brought on by COVID-19," said Mayor Walsh. "These businesses are the backbone of our economy, and the lifeblood of our communities. I'm proud we are able to assist them  during this time, and am grateful to our partners who have stepped up in a big way to support Boston's neighborhood business community."  

He added that: "In our City of Boston program, 58% of the businesses receiving grants are owned by people of color, 48% are owned by women, 44% are owned by immigrants, 95% went to businesses with 15 or fewer employees."

The top 10 zip codes with the most recipients include East Boston, Jamaica Plain, Brighton, South End, Dorchester, Roslindale, and Roxbury.
The full list of recipients is posted online at

An additional $5.5 million in funding is being added to fully fund all eligible grant requests that were submitted during the application process, which combines newly available federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development; as well as commitments from Citizens Bank and Eastern Bank. We will continue to share updates on new small businesses that are funded as that information becomes available. 

The List: 

3D Painting Company
All My World, INC
Americano Espresso Bar
Beverly  Richards Dance Center
Biddy Hair Salon
Bohemios Restaurant
Boston Amici Group d/b/a Pazza On POrter
Boston Cleaning Cooperative
Cactus Mexican Grill LLC
Carlos leon studio salon
chinese dragon
CrossFit Jeffries Point
Didi's Spa
DJ Petro Entertainment
East Boston Barre & Yoga
Eastiewalks llc
Frankie's Cleaners
Gibney Travel Inc
House of Nails
Inner Harbor Jewelers
La Cancun Restaurant
La Chiva Restaurant
La Esperanza Market
Lily Beauty Enterprise, Inc.
Little Asia Restaurant
Little Steps
Mariona Lloreta
Mexicali Sushi Bar
Naimah Allateef DBA Babbling Brook Family Tutoring Service
Parlor Skis LLC
Petalos Floristeria Coorporation
Rincon Limeno Restaurant Inc
Root and Sky Wellness
Salon 321
Taqueria Jalisco
Teeson Reps LLC
Walloons LLC htc catering DBA Nelson sanchez
wave n pave

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Four-Phase Approach to Reopening and Publishes Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards

New standards will apply to all workplaces when phased reopening begins

BOSTON (May 10, 2020) — Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a four-phase approach to reopening the Massachusetts economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and published Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards that will apply across all sectors and industries once reopening begins.

The goal of the phased reopening, based on public health guidance, is to methodically allow certain businesses, services, and activities to resume, while protecting public health and limiting a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases.

  • Phase 1 will be “Start:” limited industries resume operations with severe restrictions
  • Phase 2 will be “Cautious:” additional industries resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits
  • Phase 3 will be “Vigilant:” additional industries resume operations with guidance
  • Phase 4 will be the “New Normal:” development of vaccine and/or therapy enables resumption of new normal

Businesses and activities that provided “COVID-19 Essential Services,” per Governor Baker’s March 23rd order, will continue to operate. 

Certain businesses and activities with a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission will open in earlier phases. 

Decisions and timing will be influenced by public health metrics for when the first phase of reopening begins, as well as when it is safe to move into concurrent phases.

CLICK HERE for more information about the four-phased reopening approach.

CLICK HERE for today’s presentation from the Reopening Advisory Board.

Additionally, the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the COVID-19 Command Center, in consultation with the Reopening Advisory Board and based on feedback from industry, labor, and community coalitions, has developed Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission as employees and customers begin to return to workplaces during the first phase of reopening. These Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards are applicable to all sectors and industries that will be open in phase one, and create new workplace requirements for social distancing, hygiene, staffing and operations, and cleaning. These standards are being released to give workplaces time to plan and prepare for reopening.

For social distancing: 
  • All persons, including employees, customers, and vendors should remain at least six feet apart to the greatest extent possible, both inside and outside workplaces
  • Establish protocols to ensure that employees can practice adequate social distancing
  • Provide signage for safe social distancing
  • Require face coverings or masks for all employees
For hygiene:

  • Provide hand washing capabilities throughout the workplace
  • Ensure frequent hand washing by employees and adequate supplies to do so 
  • Provide regular sanitization of high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site

For staffing and operations:

  • Provide training for employees regarding the social distancing and hygiene protocols
  • Employees who are displaying COVID19-like symptoms do not report to work
  • Establish a plan for employees getting ill from COVID-19 at work, and a return-to-work plan

For cleaning and disinfecting:

  • Establish and maintain cleaning protocols specific to the business
  • When an active employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, cleaning and disinfecting must be performed
  • Disinfection of all common surfaces must take place at intervals appropriate to said workplace
CLICK HERE for more information about the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards.
In addition to these Mandatory Standards which apply to all workplaces, the Reopening Advisory Board is developing Sector Specific Safety Protocols and Best Practices that will detail how particular industries should operate upon reopening.

The Reopening Advisory Board is scheduled to provide its full report to Governor Baker on Monday, May 18th

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Mayor Walsh Column: Emergency care has not been put on hold. If you need medical assistance, seek help.

Photo Courtesy of the Mayor's Office

By Mayor Martin J. Walsh

During this public health emergency, many of us are feeling stressed and anxious. Days are uncertain and our routines have shifted. Many people are working remotely, or have lost their jobs. Students are learning online. Many of our favorite events have been canceled. For some time now, I have urged you to follow many precautions like staying home, covering your face when outside, and not visiting friends and family. But, one thing has not changed and should not change: if you are experiencing an emergency, please call 9-1-1 for help. Boston EMS and our emergency rooms are ready to help you.

In anticipation of Boston’s surge in COVID-19 cases, we have been doing our part to not overwhelm our emergency departments. We are asking individuals to call their primary care provider or 3-1-1 if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have any health-related questions. You can also visit for an online screening of COVID-19 symptoms. But, life-threatening emergencies like difficulty breathing or pain or pressure in the chest should be addressed immediately by calling 9-1-1. 

Boston EMS will provide you the necessary pre-hospital care and transport you to the nearest emergency department if needed. Hospitals have seen dramatic decreases in health emergencies, like heart attacks, strokes and appendicitis. Even though coronavirus is a new challenge, that does not mean other health challenges are less present. Please do not delay getting life-saving care because of fear of getting coronavirus. Go to the emergency room if you think you are in need of emergency care. Our hospitals in Boston have been taking many steps to ensure safety and cleanliness, and they have space for you.  

Every day we are planning and responding to reduce the further spread of coronavirus. One piece of this has been increasing hospital capacity. We know it is important to be ready to treat as many people as possible, and not just for COVID-19. We must also help front line workers, like our medical professionals, first responders, grocery store employees, public servants and sanitation workers, stay healthy by practicing our guidelines: staying home as much as possible, covering your face when outside your home, keeping at least 6 feet of distance from other people, washing your hands frequently, and disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces. 

I know it’s a hard adjustment, and it seems like this has been going on for much longer than it has. But this virus will not stop spreading if everyone follows our guidelines. I want to thank everyone who has been avoiding gatherings and wearing a face covering when they go outside. I know it’s not always comfortable or easy to do, especially as we move into warmer weather. Your actions will directly help save lives. To those of you ignoring these guidelines, I urge you to reflect on the consequences of your actions. Is ignoring these guidelines worth risking the lives of your friends, family and neighbors? We can overcome this, but we have to work together. 

The City of Boston will continue to take the proper steps to respond to this crisis in a comprehensive way. This is a difficult time for everyone around the world. It’s okay to feel stressed. We will get through this together by following the public health guidelines, working together and supporting each other, one day at a time.

For more information on Boston’s COVID-19 response, please visit or text BOSCOVID to 888-777 to receive text alerts on a regular basis, available in 11 languages. For non-emergency questions, please call 3-1-1.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

East Boston Neighborhood Health Center is now testing 7 days a week!

The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center is now offering COVID-19 testing seven days a week to patients as well as community residents who have flu-like symptoms or have been in contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive. 

IMPORTANT: Community residents who are EBNHC patients must call EBNHC at 617-569-5800 to pre-register for screening and testing at our two new EBNHC patient testing sites. 

Patients who arrive at Suffolk Downs or 79 Paris Street without pre-registration will not be tested. 

Patients and non-patients can come to our 10 Gove Street Emergency Department and Influenza-Like Illness Clinic without pre-registering.

EBNHC Testing Locations:

New: 79 Paris Street, East Boston, walk-through location
8:00 am to noon daily
Pre-registration required: Call 617-569-5800

New: Suffolk Downs, Drive-thru location (by car only):
525 William F. McClellan Highway, Boston
1:00 pm to 5:00 pm daily
Pre-registration required: Call 617-569-5800

Emergency Department, open 24/7
Influenza Like Illness Clinic, open 7 days per week
10 Gove Street, East Boston 
Pre-registration not required

In addition to screening and testing, we are connecting community members to resources for food, housing, health, and safety. No one is asked about immigration status. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Mayor Walsh releases new map with testing site for East Boston:

BOSTON - Monday, April 20, 2020 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) today launched a new mapping tool to help Boston residents find locations offering COVID-19 testing. The City of Boston is partnering with community health centers to increase access to testing, particularly in neighborhoods experiencing higher rates of COVID-19.

"Every community deserves full access to COVID-19 testing. We will continue to work to expand access to testing for all residents across Boston, particularly our hardest hit communities," said Mayor Walsh. "Access to neighborhood-based testing will help us quickly identify cases, and get people the care and support needed to recover and prevent the further spread of COVID-19"

According to the latest data from the Boston Public Health Commission, Hyde Park had 413 reported cases of COVID-19, Mattapan had 298, Dorchester had 1,274, East Boston had 410, Roxbury had 335, Roslindale had 302, and the South End had 372.
The map is available on and Residents are asked to call ahead for pre-screening and to schedule an appointment. Residents can click on the interactive map to find the testing center with hours, address and contact information. It will be updated as new sites become available for testing.

Codman Square Health Center
637 Washington Street
Dorchester, MA 02124
(617) 822-8271
The Dimock Center
55 Dimock Street
Roxbury, MA 02119
(617) 442-8800
DotHouse Health
1353 Dorchester Avenue
Dorchester, MA 02122
(617) 740-2292
Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center
632 Blue Hill Avenue
Dorchester, MA 02121
(617) 825-3400
Mattapan Community Health Center
1575 Blue Hill Avenue
Mattapan, MA 02126
(617) 296-0061
Whittier Street Health Center
1290 Tremont Street
Roxbury, MA 02120
(617) 427-1000
East Boston Neighborhood Health Center
10 Gove Street 
East Boston, MA 02128
(617) 569-5800
Upham's Corner Health Center
415 Columbia Road
Dorchester, MA 02125
(617) 388-5007
Bowdoin Street Health Center
230 Bowdoin Street
Dorchester, MA 02122
(617) 754-0100
Brigham and Women's Faulkner Community Physicians at Hyde Park
1337 Hyde Park Avenue
Hyde Park, MA 02136
(617) 364-9880
Brigham and Women's Hospital
(Boston main campus)
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 732-5500
Carney Hospital
2100 Dorchester Avenue
Dorchester, MA 02124
(617) 296-4000
Massachusetts General Hospital 
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 726-2000
St. Elizabeth Medical Center
736 Cambridge Street
Brighton, MA 02135
(617) 789-3000
Tufts Medical Center
800 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 636-7216

Testing is free regardless of insurance or immigration status. Residents are encouraged to call the Mayor's Health Line at (617) 534-5050 to help with health insurance applications, navigating Boston's health care system, and with COVID-19 questions.

Last week, Mayor Walsh and the Resiliency Fund Steering Committee announced additional funds for organizations that provide critical services and support to residents, vulnerable populations and Boston families whose wellbeing is most immediately impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

The East Boston Community Health Center received funding in the first round of fund distribution and will be expanding their testing to East Boston clients, in addition to first responders. Six community health centers in neighborhoods seeing higher incidences of COVID-19 to expand their testing capabilities for residents, including:
Resources and information about COVID-19 are available online. Resources available on and through City departments include support for renters and homeowners; small businesses; free meals for Boston students and families; free toiletries for Boston students; emergency childcare centers; support for older residents; information on homeless shelters; transportation options for health care workers; resources for those in recovery or those who have a substance use disorder; and mental health resources. 

For additional questions or programs, please visit our coronavirus website or call 3-1-1, Boston's 24-hour constituent hotline. Text BOSCOVID to 888-777 to receive text alerts on a regular basis, available in 11 languages.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

City to deploy sound trucks in East Boston with stay-at-home message, Covid-19 information to Boston Neighborhoods

BOSTON - Saturday, April 18, 2020 - Tomorrow at noon, the City will deploy seven Boston Public Works trucks with sound equipment to broadcast a message about COVID-19: stay home as much as you can, wash your hands often, cover your face when out, and keep your distance from others. The message will be broadcasted in seven languages, depending on the community, including: English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, Arabic, Somali, and Cabo Verdean Creole. 

"This weekend we are launching new tactics to get the message out in the places that we know are hardest hit," said Mayor Walsh. "We need everyone to know that we are in a public health emergency and we need everyone to do their part. We also continue to work on expanding access to testing for our residents, because every community deserves full access to the level of testing and communication that meets the needs they have."

The trucks will be deployed to the neighborhoods that have COVID-19 rates higher than the rest of Boston, including Hyde Park, Mattapan, Dorchester, East Boston, Roxbury and Roslindale. According to the latest data from the Boston Public Health Commission, Hyde Park had 413 reported cases of COVID-19, Mattapan had 298, Dorchester had 1,274, East Boston had 410, Roxbury had 335, and Roslindale had 302. 

The City is phone banking essential small businesses and will be providing posters in multiple languages that ask customers to cover their faces and practice distancing. The City is also putting up on street signs and other infrastructure. 

During the weekend of March 21, a thousand City of Boston employees and volunteers delivered printed information on COVID-19 to all homes in Boston. The pamphlet outlined details about the virus, a list of preventative measures to mitigate the spread, and a compilation of city resources, including food access sites, in: English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cabo Verdean Creole and Russian. The City has been delivering literature in multiple languages to essential businesses.

Residents who have questions are encouraged to call 311 to be connected with a telephonic interpreter, or through the Mayor's Health Line at (617) 534-5050. Updates in 10 languages can additionally be accessed through Each language has its own page and hosts multilingual print materials distributed citywide. Residents and organizations interested in volunteering their language skills for COVID-19 communications can sign up here. 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Local real estate agent donates 300 Bolocco's burritos to EB Health Center

United Brokers Real Estate Sales Agent Juan Lopera (green jacket) donated 300 burritos to staff at East Boston Neighborhood Health Center on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Also included in the photo is John Pepper (black jacket), co-founder of Boloco, along with two employees.

East Boston Neighborhood Health Center Announcement on Baby Vaccinations

Mayor Walsh announces small business relief fund

New resources created to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19 receive immediate capital relief and navigate the evolving financial assistance landscape
BOSTON - Thursday, April 2, 2020 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the creation of the Small Business Relief Fund, established to assist Boston's small businesses most directly impacted by closures, policies, or general loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This newly created fund, administered and managed by the Mayor's Office of Economic Development (OED), is designed to quickly and strategically disburse grants to local businesses through a streamlined process that does not require businesses to assume additional debt. The Fund will begin accepting applications on Monday, April 6, 2020. 

"We are committed to helping Boston's small businesses during this unprecedented time by providing strategic, accessible, and critical financial resources to help them stay afloat and pay employees," said Mayor Walsh. "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the lifeblood of our neighborhoods. As the response to COVID-19 continues to evolve, we want to make this resource as straightforward as possible for business owners and work one-on-one to ensure they have the most up-to-date information on financial assistance available."

The Small Business Relief Fund will be administered through OED's Small Business Financing program, and is funded by a combination of funds from the City of Boston, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and private institutions. Eligible small businesses - a for-profit entity with fewer than 35 employees, and less than $1,500,000 in annual revenue, which is registered and operating in Boston - will apply through a single application and be considered for one of three grants based on the size of the business. Grants can be used to address rent, fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, lost sales, lost opportunities, and other working capital expenses.

The Fund will kick-off with an initial $2 million in resources available to small businesses, which includes city operating funding and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) that the City of Boston receives annually from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The funding will also include an additional $50,000 contribution from the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of everyone in Massachusetts and our small businesses have been hit especially hard," said Attorney General Maura Healey. "I thank Mayor Walsh for his leadership and the opportunity to contribute to this fund to assist these businesses during this difficult time. I'll continue to collaborate with my partners in government to help all those affected by this crisis - we will get through this together."

As business owners, employers, and employees navigate an evolving COVID-19-related assistance landscape, OED has created a Financial Relief Handbook and FAQ document, both of which are continuously updated. Small Business conference calls will continue every Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. to communicate policy updates, answer questions, feature relevant City of Boston departments, and troubleshoot the ecosystem of funding available from the state, federal, and private industry. For any business interested in joining these weekly calls, please email

OED has created a number of useful guides and resources for businesses impacted by COVID-19 and the Commonwealth's  Non-Essential Services and Stay At Home Order.
  • Open Businesses in Boston: a tool for essential businesses to publicly share that they're open, share gift-card information, and which (if any) delivery/take-out services they use. This guide is available for residents to utilize, and explore what local businesses are open in their neighborhoods. 
  • Support Boston Restaurants: a web page for restaurants to publicly share that they're open, share gift-card information, and which (if any) delivery/take-out services they use. This guide is available for residents to utilize, and explore what local businesses are open in their neighborhoods. 
  • Takeout and Delivery Guidebook: a guide on how to establish food takeout and delivery services now that the City of Boston has lifted licensing regulations. 
  • Small Business Survey: the third of four surveys for small businesses to pinpoint the help and services they need during this time. 
The above resources and more industry-specific guidance are accessible on or under the Local Resources "Economic Development Response" on