Boston Expands COVID-19 Testing; Free to Residents Regardless of Insurance & Immigration Status

Boston is ramping up its daily diagnostic testing of residents, to more than double tests in the last two weeks. The city's averaging 1,100 tests conducted per day, up from an average of 680 tests conducted per day the prior week, and the aim is to reach an average of 1,500 diagnostic tests per day of residents, according to a city press release. Testing efforts are being prioritized in each neighborhood, particularly of populations most vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. "Testing helps people get the care they need and avoid passing the virus on to others," said Mayor Marty Walsh. "Increasing our testing efforts allows our public health experts to better track the outbreak and it will continue to be essential in our progress toward recovery.

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Governor Closes Schools, No Dining at Restaurants, Bans Gatherings Over 25, and More

On Sunday in response to the spreading of the Coronavirus, Governor Charlie Baker announced sweeping restrictions across the state that effect restaurants, gatherings, restaurants, and schools. “The facts on the ground have changed,” said Baker. “Now that we have evidence based on the testing results that we have community transmission in seven counties in Massachusetts, I think at this point in time it’s particularly appropriate we not only move on the school closures, but also that we get a lot more aggressive around other places and spaces that people gather.”

Starting Tuesday through April 17 all restaurants and bars in the Commonwealth must shutdown on-premise consumption. Restaurants and bars can continue to offer food via takeout or delivery. Before Baker's conference, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced on Sunday that effective immediately all Boston restaurants, bars, nightclubs, bar rooms, are required to reduce capacity by 50 percent, remove tables and chairs to reflect that reduced capacity.

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$1.9M in CPA Funds Recommended for Pine Street Inn Building, Footlight Club, Haffenreffer Brewery

Three Jamaica Plain projects are among the 40 recommended by the city to receive more than $24 million in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds. The Community Preservation Committee met on Jan. 27 to vote on Mayor Marty Walsh's recommended slate of projects for funding. The Boston City Council will need to approve the use of the funds, and the council is expected to vote in the coming weeks. The three Jamaica Plain projects are:

$1,500,000 to the Pine Street Inn and the Community Builders to build a portion of 202 affordable rental units, including 156 for formerly homeless households, at 3368 Washington Street

$200,000 to the Haffenreffer Brewery complex to restore the roof and windows for a "Prosperity Center" providing small business services, job training, ESL classes, and other programs

$200,000 to the Footlight Club, the country's oldest community theatre, to remediate structural problems and stabilize Eliot Hall, a Greek Revival wood-frame structure built in 1831

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What’s Next for Franklin Park? Master Plan Workshop on Jan. 28

The city is leading its own 18-month process to determine how to use the $28 million earmarked to revitalize Franklin Park. The city is teaming up with landscape architects, planners, ecologists, as well as "community engagement experts" to "create a community driven master plan for an engaging and diverse Franklin Park." The team is going to look at a long list of elements to Franklin Park, including accessibility, arboriculture, ecology, equity, implementation strategy, inclusion, master plan document, soil science, urban planning, wayfinding, and more. "The team’s goal is to understand the planning efforts that have come before it, what is working and isn’t working in the park, and what the Franklin Park neighborhood wants to see in the future," says the city's Franklin Park Master Plan website. This master plan is for the city-owned portion of Franklin Park, and does not encompass the state's plan for the Shattuck Hospital site.

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Four to Six Parking Spaces Becoming Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Centre Street Lot

As part of a city electric vehicle program, some municipal parking lots, including one on Centre Street, will have four to six parking spaces made into electric car charging stations. Boston has a stated goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, and transportation accounts for nearly a third of Boston's total carbon emissions, according to Boston.gov. Sixty-five percent of carbon emissions in Boston come from personal vehicles. As part of the Transportation Department's Recharge Boston program to support electric vehicles the city is encouraging drivers to use electric or zero emission vehicles. And most electric car owners charge their vehicles at home, but a city survey part of Boston's 2019 Climate Action Plan Update revealed that 45 percent of Bostonians would purchase an electric vehicle if they had access to a charger. But there aren't enough public electric car charging stations, so starting this winter and into the spring, the city will be installing four to six electric car charging stations in six lots.

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