Coronavirus: BU Monday Roundup
BU, Boston, state, national, and global updates
If you have a question or comment related to BU and its response to the COVID-19 crisis, on the subject of the move-out, remote learning, retrieving personal belongings, or anything else, please visit Boston University’s special COVID-19 website. Questions are being answered there by specific departments in a timely fashion. Thank you.
—Doug Most, executive editor, BU Today
Quote of the day:
Due to extensive community transmission of COVID -19 in the area, CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.
Stat of the day:
Swipe access for students turned off (unless they successfully appealed)
As of 8 am Monday, swipe card access to University facilities has been turned off for all students except those who successfully appealed to remain on campus past the March 22 deadline. Students who have yet to appeal need to contact the Dean of Students office immediately, at 617-353-4126 or by filling out this form online. If immediate access is needed, call between 9 am and 5 pm.
Fenway Campus closed
Students who were still residing in the Fenway Campus dorms have been relocated to the Charles River Campus. As a result, the Fenway Dining Hall was closed over the weekend, and the Fenway shuttle has been discontinued until further notice. As the situation continues to evolve, students should check here to see which locations for dining and convenience facilities remain open and their hours of operation or by using the Open Now page.
Boston and Beyond News
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announces beds for homeless during crisis, including Brighton site
Mayor Walsh on Sunday announced a comprehensive plan for people experiencing homelessness in Boston during the COVID-19 crisis. More than 240 beds that can be used to increase social distancing in city shelters or as places for individuals to isolate or self-quarantine have been added around the city. Suffolk University has made available 172 of those beds, announcing that it would repurpose a dorm to help with congestion. That site will be managed by the Pine Street Inn and the Boston Public Health Commission.
Another 70 beds will come from the Davis Companies, at the site of a former long-term acute-care hospital at 1515 Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton. The company reached out to see if the site, slated for development in the long term, could be redeployed to help in the current crisis, and it completed the necessary upgrades to make it happen. That site will be managed by the Public Health Commission and Boston Health Care for the Homeless.
“We are fully committed to protecting all of our residents, including those experiencing homelessness, because every life is worth protecting,” Walsh said at a press conference outside City Hall.
Individuals seeking assistance should still start at one of Boston’s regular shelters, where they will be screened and taken to another location as needed.
With help from Suffolk Construction, the city has already built a 38-bed isolation and quarantine facility next to the Southampton Street shelter. And the state announced that the former Newton Pavilion of Boston Medical Center will be repurposed, offering 250 beds for the homeless with COVID-19–related medical needs.
Walsh recently announced that $2.5 million from the new Boston Resiliency Fund will be used to strengthen health services for the homeless as part of a coordinated strategy that includes screening for those using Boston shelters and facilities who have been exposed to, or diagnosed with, COVID-19.
“We are fortunate to live and work in a city where strong leadership enables quick action to protect this high-risk population during such an unprecedented time,” says Stephen Davis, Davis Companies managing director of development.
Online portal for getting masks and gloves to those who need them
Governor Charlie Baker’s administration has opened an online portal where individuals and corporations can donate or sell personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns. “Massachusetts has already received generous donations from countless organizations, and by launching this portal we’ll make it easier to streamline these offers and quickly distribute supplies to those in need,” Baker said. The portal also offers a sign-up opportunity for health professionals to volunteer to lend a hand in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PPE and related items sought through the portal include:
- N95/N99 masks
- Surgical/procedure masks
- Facemasks with integrated shields
- Powered air-purifying respirators
- Protective suits or gowns
- Booties/shoe covers
- Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes
The program also includes information for local manufacturers on adapting their businesses to produce needed items here in Massachusetts.
Need some good news?
It’s not your imagination. If the air seems cleaner when you go for a walk, that’s because it is. Along with all the other things COVID-19 has knocked out—in-person work and school, for starters—it is also doing a job on air pollution. Vehicle carbon emissions are down 30 percent, while overall carbon emissions are down 15 percent.
Living in the city: news you can use
Mayor Walsh has announced a number of changes that should be of interest to anyone who drives, parks, or picks up takeout meals in the city during the pandemic. Residents with a valid resident parking permit sticker will be allowed to park in a metered or two-hour parking space within their specific neighborhood without concern for the time limit or paying a meter fee. For cars without the relevant resident parking permit sticker, standard time limit and meter requirements remain in place. To help small businesses, the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) is creating temporary pickup zones in front of restaurants that have transitioned to takeout and delivery only. Also, the BTD will not ticket for expired inspection stickers or registrations, given potential challenges for people to renew inspections and registrations.
Buoy your spirits
Both Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh have talked up Buoy Health, a start-up in the South End providing free 24/7 online screening and telehealth resources for residents who believe they have COVID-19 symptoms. Residents complete an online questionnaire and it connects them with the right healthcare resources based on their coronavirus symptoms and risk factors.
US & Global News
Grim prediction from Anthony Fauci
Millions of Americans will be infected by the coronavirus and 100,000 to 200,000 will die, the US government’s top infectious-disease expert warned Sunday. Anthony Fauci (Hon.’18), director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the predictions on CNN.
Trump extends social distancing guidelines
A few hours after Fauci spoke of those numbers, President Trump said that the federal guidelines for social distancing would last until April 30, backing down from his previous comments that he intended for America to go back to work by Easter. Some Congressional leaders and administration officials are already talking about passing another economic stimulus package. And Democratic presidential candidate and former US vice president Joe Biden said all states should start planning to hold mail-in elections.
Homeless emergency in India
Hundreds of thousands of migrant laborers in India, having been rendered homeless and jobless by the world’s biggest lockdown, have begun long journeys—mostly on foot—to get home from big cities. Some planned to walk hundreds of miles, but as they tried to leave Delhi, many were beaten back by the police, the New York Times reported. India already had one of the world’s largest homeless populations, and the lockdown may have tripled it overnight.
Latest count of coronavirus cases
United States, 136,880; Massachusetts, 4,955.
Distraction of the day:
Students isolated by the coronavirus epidemic don’t have to worry about social distancing in the online game Minecraft, so they’re building their own BU there, complete with the BU Bridge and FitRec. “Members of the Boston University Gaming Club had been working on the BU campus reconstruction as early as last summer,” the Boston Globe reports. “But in the last week or so alone, the project has gained momentum. After club member Jithvan Ariyaratne (CAS’21) shared the server and its live map on the nationwide Facebook group, Zoom Memes for Self Quaranteens, the number of dedicated builders tripled to 15.”
Find BU Today’s latest coverage of the pandemic here. The University’s hotline for faculty, staff, students, and visiting scholars to call for referral of their virus-related medical concerns is 617-358-4990.