Boston opening coronavirus testing center for first responders as number of positive cases in city jumps to 631

BOSTON (WHDH) - Boston is opening its first coronavirus testing center reserved for police officers, firefighters, and EMTs, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced Friday.

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The COVID-19 testing center will launch Saturday at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, Walsh said during a news conference outside City Hall. The site will not be opened to members of the public.

The number of positive coronavirus cases in Boston has jumped to 631, Walsh said. Forty Bostonians have recovered from the virus and two have died.

Eight Boston police officers have tested positive for the virus, as well as more than 150 workers at four city hospitals.

The mayor also urged Bostonians to stay at home unless they “absolutely” must leave the house. He also said that he is aware of large numbers of people who are still not practicing social distancing.

“Too many people are not taking this seriously enough,” Walsh said. “This isn’t about you. This is about your neighbors, your friends, and your family.”

Walsh stated he will start naming places where large groups have been gathering if reports keep coming in.

Boston Public Schools have served more than 100,000 free meals to students and families and are averaging about 13,000 meals each day, according to Walsh. Meals will start being delivered to children who can’t access the distribution sites.

In an effort to ease the hassle of parking in the city, Walsh said that residents can now park in metered or two-hour parking spaces without getting ticketed. The Boston Transportation Department won’t be issuing tickets for expired inspection stickers or registrations until further notice.

The city is also in the process of creating five-minute food pickup zones for cars in front of restaurants, Walsh said.

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Walsh again asked construction sites and companies to donate protective gear to local hospitals and healthcare facilities.

He went on to stress the importance of pulling together to support one other during the pandemic.

“I’m asking people to be kind to each other. This is an unprecedented public health emergency. Many, many people are stressed. Everyone is doing their best. It’s never been more important that we support each other,” Walsh said.

When asked about how long the city would be affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions that have been implemented to safeguard against the spread, Walsh said, “I think we’re in this until May, June, maybe July.”

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