Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced on Wednesday the city plans to put up quarantine and testing tents near two area sheltersto prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population.
“City government and all our partners are working around the clock to support all our vulnerable populations here in Boston,” Walsh said during a press conference.
The mayor also said there are no plans to close homeless shelters.
“We are working to make sure that people experiencing homelessness are supported and kept safe,” he said.
Walsh’s comments came just days after he announced that all major construction projects would be shut down as well as the city’s library system and several Boston Centers for Youth and Families. Earlier this week, Walsh declared a public health emergency in Boston.
Authorities said they have yet to see the virus spread among the homeless community in Boston, which numbers around 6,000 people, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
The mayor did not directly answer a question about whether the Boston Police would stop arrests on non-violent misdemeanors, as Philadelphia is doing.
“We’re really not having a lot of crime in the city,” he said, adding that he spoke with police leadership in the morning. “If there’s no need for arrests.”
Walsh also denied persistent rumors that he was considering a shelter-in-place order after one was imposed on the Bay Area in California. New York Mayor Bill De Blasio has publicly stated he was considering such an order.
“Do not trust rumors,” Walsh said. “As of right now that is not the situation.
“I am not saying it’s not an option,” he continued. “It’s about watching the data and seeing where the curve is.”
That comment referenced the term “flattening the curve” — in frequent use lately to refer to attempts to ensure the number of cases of COVID-19 patients hitting hospitals remains at a manageable level.
He also clarified a statement made earlier, saying that cars would not be ticketed or towed for street cleaning purposes during the emergency.