Walsh: 'Our Focus Should Be On Saving Lives' Before Economy

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A day after President Donald Trump mentioned his hope to reopen the country by Easter, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh criticized "mixed messages" coming out of Washington, D.C.

Without mentioning the president by name, Walsh said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that his main focus is public health, not restarting the economy.

"I want to be absolutely clear about the focus," Walsh said. "We heard the last couple days, mixed messages from Washington and the national conversation to suggest that we shift priorities. Our focus in Boston, and what should be in the country right now, is on public health."

Speaking to reporters at a polite social distance outside Boston City Hall, Walsh said his administration would continue to listen to the advice of medical experts first and foremost.

"It's about doing the right thing, now and in the difficult weeks ahead," Walsh said. "Our focus should be on saving lives, preventing the spread of the virus, because every single life is worth saving."

He added that there could be no economic recovery without public health.

"There's no other options," Walsh said. "If our health system gets overwhelmed, there will be serious implications to this."

Walsh said the Boston Resiliency Fund, started last week to aid residents and businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, has now surpassed its $20 million goal. The mayor said the first $5 million from the fund will go to organizations addressing food insecurity and healthcare.

Some of that money has already been used to purchase thousands of Chromebooks, putting 18,000 in Boston students' hands for remote learning.

The mayor said City Hall was operational, but discouraging visitors.

"Most of our services are now online, and if you need to come to City Hall, we're asking you to call 311 to set up an appointment before you come in," he said.

Walsh reiterated that residents should be washing their hands and practicing social distancing, as well as disinfecting all surfaces, including those in their cars.

He thanked legislators working to allow beer and wine for delivery and takeout from Massachusetts restaurants, and said the city was temporarily lifting its plastic bag ban during the COVID-19 crisis.

Walsh thanked medical professionals and their families, first responders, custodial workers, grocers and pharmacy workers, and public transportation employees for all their hard work of late.

"I want to thank everyone on the front lines of this crisis," Walsh said. "It's never been more clear in our lives that we live with heroes all around us here in Boston, and quite honestly, I can expand that to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, too, so thank you to all the first responders throughout the Commonwealth."

He also urged residents to call 311 if they're feeling isolated, vulnerable, or afraid, and the city will put them in contact with people who can help.

"It's an important time that you take care of yourself, and if you're alone or scared, please call 311, because there's a whole bunch of people here in the City of Boston that love you and care for you and want you to be safe, and want you to know that we're right behind you," he said.

WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports

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(Photo: Karyn Regal/WBZ NewsRadio)

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