Acting Mayor Kim Janey held a press conference on July 29, where she talked about public heath following a rise in the city’s COVID cases, as well as provided a public safety update as it relates to OPAT’s review and response of the procedures allowing Patrick Rose to stay on the Boston Police force following allegations of child molestation.
“After months of extremely low and declining cases, we have seen a marked increase in COVID activity in Boston over the last several weeks,” Janey said.
She said that as of July 27, there were 704 new cases reported in the city during a two week period, bringing the city’s total number of cases to 71,914. Over the past two weeks, four more COVID-related deaths were reported, for a total of 1339 Bostonians who have died from the virus.
Janey said that at the beginning of July, the seven-day average of COVID hospitalizations was 26, and as of July 26, the average was 36.
“In early July, Boston hospitals reported a seven-day average occupancy of 83 percent in non-surgical adult ICU,” Janey said, which had now risen to 88 percent as of the press conference.
“All of our tracking metrics remain below threshold levels and well below the peak of 2020, but they are increasing,” Janey said.
“After a year and a half of battling covid 19 I understand many of us feel ready to move on from the pandemic, but let me be clear: the pandemic is not over,” she continued. “We are still living with covid-19 and we must do all we can to keep ourselves our families, and our communities safe.”
Janey urged all residents to get the vaccine, as it it the best method of protection against the virus and will help people protect themselves and their community.
She said that as of the conference, more than 400,000 Bostonians have been fully vaccinated, and more than 66 percent of residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Additionally, 90 percent of Bostonians ages 65 to 74 are fully vaccinated, Janey said.
“In every neighborhood, with the exception of Mattapan, more than 50 percent of the residents are vaccinated,” Janey said. But she stressed that more work needs to be done.
“My goal is to have every City of Boston employee vaccinated,” she said. “That has been the focus throughout this year.” Clinics for teachers, EMTs, police officers, and firefighters have been set up, as well as clinics at City Hall and paid time off for city employees to get their shots.
“With cases on the rise and the Delta variant now the dominant strain in Boston, I believe this is the best path forward to get every employee vaccinated,” Janey said. “If it takes a mandate to keep the City of Boston employees safe, that is what we’ll do with very thoughtful, worker-centered approaches.”
She said that masks remain the best way for people under the age of 12 to protect themselves, as the vaccine has not yet been approved for that age group.
She said that she and superintendent Brenda Cassellius “are requiring all [Boston Public School (BPS)] students and staff to wear masks indoors.” This policy is already in effect for summer school, and “will remain in place as students return in the fall, and it is supported by our Teachers Union,” Janey said.
She also said that the city is working to help BPS students ages 12 and older get access to the vaccine.
“We are also boosting vaccination in communities hardest hit by the pandemic,” she said. She said mobile vaccination clinics continue to “meet residents where they are” so they can have equitable access to the vaccine.
“The COVID Delta variant presents a new threat to those who remain unvaccinated,” Janey said. “This new virus is more contagious, more easily contracted, and more easily transmitted. The longer we linger with large numbers of unvaccinated residents, the more opportunity there is for the COVID virus to mutate again and prolong this pandemic.”
She continued, “for Boston residents who have delayed their vaccine, please do not wait for the Delta variant to catch up with you. Now is your time to get vaccinated.”
Janey also said that the city is working with restaurants and bars to get younger people vaccinated, as most people with new positive cases are between the ages of 20 and 39 years old. She said that the city is “providing businesses with social media graphics and printed flyers to post in their establishments. We are also bringing mobile vaccination clinics to events, bars, and restaurants where the younger population is gathering.”
Janey also reported last Thursday that the city’s Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT) “has completed a review and response to my request to deliver a plan for review and reform of the police department’s internal affairs procedures that allowed accused child molester Patrick Rose to remain a member of the [Boston Police Department (BPD)] or 2 decades after an internal BPD investigation resulted in a sustained finding against him,” and the results were released on the 27th of July.
Janey said that the review “included conversations with BPD officers, including internal affairs and command staff.”
Stephanie Everett, Executive Director of the OPAT, “has issued three key findings and recommendations,” according to Janey.
The first is that “in 1995, the Internal Affairs Department did not act quickly, independently, or fully upon notice of a complaint,” Janey said. There have been “policies and procedures” implemented since then, but Janey said that those policies need to do more.
“It is now recommended that the BPD Bureau of Professional Standards seek to interview witnesses within 48 hours of notification that an officer has been charged with a violation of the law.”
Second, Janey said it was found that BPD did not take adequate steps for discipline or termination based on findings of misconduct from the Internal Affairs Division.
“To address this, it is recommended that the discipline from Internal Affairs investigations be made visible, predictable, and just, and use a discipline matrix being developed by the olice commissioner for the Civilian Review Board to use in its discipline recommendations,” Janey said, adding that if discipline recommended by the board is not put into effect, the reasons for the decision not to do so will need to be put in writing.
Lastly, Janey said that it was found that “there was no independent oversight of the Internal Affairs Division’s investigations.” In order to help with this, Janey said an amendment will be filed for the OPAT ordinance that will require the BPD to make OPAT aware of any criminal charges against officers to begin an investigation.
“In conclusion, this review found that the 1992 St. Clair Commission recommended a series of reforms that may have prevented Rose from remaining on the force and allegedly assaulting more children two decades after the Internal Affairs Division sustained a finding in this case,” Janey said.
“In 2021, we have an obligation to ensure this never happens again,” Janey said. “We must implement the 2020 recommendations offered by Wayne Budd and the Police Reform Task Force members and continue to establish OPAT and its public boards with urgency