The Boston Resiliency Fund has surpassed its $20 million target raising money to help families and residents affected by the ongoing coronavirus crisis — an “incredible testament” to the city’s character amid turmoil, Mayor Martin Walsh said Wednesday.
“We are already using these funds to buy thousands of Chromebooks. We now have over 18,000 of those laptops in our students’ hands, and we continue to distribute those laptops to our kids in Boston,” Walsh told reporters on the steps of City Hall.
Donations have streamed in from more than 1,800 donors since the fund launched 10 days ago in an effort to ease the economic hardship felt by tens of thousands of Bostonians who are out of work and struggling to make ends meet amid widespread shutdowns intended to slow the spread of coronavirus, Walsh said. The fund will continue to accept donations, Walsh said.
The first $5.4 million in funds was released to eight local organizations on Wednesday that provide critical support to residents, including access to food and support for health care systems.
As of Tuesday, 197 people in Boston have tested positive for COVID-19. Twenty-one people have made full recoveries and two have died — “each loss reminds us of why we are doing what we are doing to slow the spread of this virus now,” Walsh said. Statewide, 1,838 people have tested positive and 15 have died, according to the most recent Department of Public Health data.
Walsh warned that Boston is still in the “early days” of the coronavirus crisis and said the city and state are expecting large increases in the volume of cases in the coming days to weeks.
“Our focus should be on saving lives, preventing the spread of the virus, because every single life is worth saving,” Walsh said, emphasizing the importance of adhering to the governor’s stay-at-home advisory that went into effect Tuesday.
Walsh said he understands the “economic impacts are hard” as jobs and paychecks have disappeared amid measures to stop the spread of the virus. Social distancing and bans on gatherings of 10 or more are likely to last at least several more weeks. The governor on Wednesday extended public school closures to May 4.
Walsh threw his support behind legislation that would allow restaurants to sell alcohol via takeout and delivery and underscored measures like lifting the city’s ban on plastic bags he said would help small businesses struggling to stay open as people stay at home.
“There is no economic recovery without public health, and there’s only one way to do all of this and that’s to test our resolve in Boston certainly has what it takes over the last couple of weeks we’ve taken time to shut out schools and libraries and cancel events,” Walsh said.