Boston mayor doesn’t rule out economic shutdown



BOSTON (AP) – Mayor Marty Walsh didn’t rule out shutting down Boston restaurants and other businesses again if the number of coronavirus cases reported in the city continues to rise.

The city’s positivity rate for the week ending Nov. 12 was 9.6%, up significantly from summer averages of 1.8% to 2.8%, he said at a City Hall news conference Tuesday.

“I don’t want to be standing in front of this podium three weeks from now shutting down restaurants and retail shops and businesses and sports and schools and everything that we’ve done,” Walsh said. “We don’t want to go backwards.”

He said an economic shutdown would be a last resort.

Walsh also urged people to spend Thanksgiving only with immediate members of their household.

The city will start releasing data on six key metrics twice a week in an effort to better track the spread of infections and monitor hospital capacity, he said.

Those metrics include the average number of daily cases, the community-level test positivity, the average number of daily tests administered, ICU capacity and percentage of nonsurge beds occupied, overall number of beds available and the average number of emergency visits related to COVID-19, according to Marty Martinez, chief of the city’s Office Health and Human Services.

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JURY TRIALS RESUME

Massachusetts’ state courts will resume jury trials at the end of this month to deal with a growing backlog of cases caused by the coronavirus, but with new safety measures in place.

The first trials with six-person juries presiding over simple criminal and civil cases at nine courthouses will serve as a test for a broader reopening, The Boston Globe reported.

If the plan works, higher profile cases with 12-member juries will be heard starting in February.

“We are determined to provide due process to the parties in the cases that are pending, while balancing risks to jurors, trial participants and court staff,” said Superior Court Chief Justice Judith Fabricant, a member of an advisory committee that in July issued a report on how to safely resume trials.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers worry about trials being indefinitely delayed, depriving defendants of their right to a speedy trial.

“There’s no easy solution to this, so you’ve got to be careful that people’s very important constitutional rights are upheld, even in this stressful, unique time,” said Randy Gioia, deputy chief counsel of the public defender division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services.

Jurors will be required to notify the court if they have any COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to anyone with the disease. Everyone in the courtroom will be required to wear a mask at all times, except for witnesses who may remove them on the stand, which will be shielded by plexiglass.

Jury duty can be deferred for several reasons, including health concerns.

___ BOSTON UNIVERSITY

Boston University students who go home for Thanksgiving are being urged to stay away until next semester as a precaution to avoid bringing the coronavirus back to campus.

In a recent message to students, university officials implored students to stay on campus for the holiday, adding that those who travel will be required to isolate for seven days and receive three negative virus tests upon their return to campus.

Since the isolation period would end shortly before the end of this term’s classes, officials said students who travel will be better off finishing their classes remotely. The university cited surging virus rates across the state and nation.

Boston University joins a growing number of schools taking measures to curb travel around the holiday.

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