Mayor Walsh today urged all Bostonians to get tested for Covid-19 even if they have no symptoms and haven't been to any gatherings.
At a press conference this afternoon, Walsh said the city is now giving all its workers a paid hour off every two weeks to get tested, and said some 20 local employers have pledged to do the same. The city is now distributing "I got tested!" stickers for testing sites to distribute that people can wear next to their "I voted!" stickers.
Walsh said widespread testing both helps individuals either stay healthy or get help if they test positive and the city as a whole by helping public-health workers track the spread and try to reduce it.
"We know the virus is spreading among people without symptoms and people who don't know they've been exposed," he said.
Nothng Boston has now seen five straight weeks of increases in Covid-19 cases - for the week ending Oct. 24, 7.8% of tests came back positive - Walsh said such testing is critical, especially since recent weeks have seen a decline in the total number of Bostonians getting tested.
"We're entering into a very critical time in this pandemic, the most critical time since the beginning," he said. He said that Boston numbers are still nowhere near what they were at the start of the surge in April, so now is the time to act to curb the new growth. Health and Human Services Chief Marty Martinez said Boston hospitals currently have about 100 Covid-19 patients, compared to roughly 1,500 at the peak of the first surge in the spring.
The increased testing will determine whether Boston has to take additional shutdown steps, he said. He added that the last thing we want to do is shut down restaurants and stores again, but recent numbers are worrying. "We're jumping pretty high" over just the past couple weeks, he said.