With the coronavirus spreading across Massachusetts, MPHA has shifted our focus exclusively to confronting this new epidemic. On the policy side, we are working to ensure that equity is at the center of the state’s response, so that marginalized communities do not bear the brunt of the epidemic and its economic impacts. At the same time, MPHA is helping to address the critical challenges faced by local public health departments tasked with tracking cases, recommending testing, enforcing quarantine and more.
Advancing Equity-Based Policies
In the early days of the epidemic, MPHA convened an Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity to rapidly develop policy recommendations. The Task Force is co-chaired by Sandro Galea, MD, Dean of the Boston University School of Public Health and Cheryl Bartlett, RN, CEO of the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center and former Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
To date, the Task Force has called on policy makers to immediately act on the following policy priorities to support those most impacted by the outbreak and its economic repercussions:
- Enact a Moratorium on Evictions & Foreclosures – enacted 4/20/20!
- Pass Emergency Paid Sick Time – legislation filed 4/21/20,
- Provide Safe Quarantine for People Experiencing Homelessness,
- Ensure Immigrants Have Safe Access to Testing & Treatment,
- Collect and Report Equity Data (including race and ethnicity),
- Create a Public Health Plan for Prisons & Jails,
- Amend the State’s Crisis Standards of Care to Ensure Equity.
We have had a tremendous response to this effort. More than 60 organizations are members of the Task Force, and approximately 150 organizations endorsed the Task Force’s initial recommendations. MPHA continues to work with our partners to turn these policy recommendations into reality.
Supporting Local Boards of Health
Across Massachusetts, local boards of health are working to slow the spread of COVID-19 by investigating known and suspected cases, recommending and enforcing quarantine and isolation, making testing recommendations, and reporting to state public health officials. Their work is essential and all-too-often invisible.
To help connect the state’s COVID-19 Command Center with local public health departments and districts, MPHA and our partners have developed a network of seven Crisis Affiliates, collectively responsible for supporting and directing state resources to local health departments in 227 municipalities. We are also supporting the 15 existing Health Districts (collections of municipalities that had previously come together to share public health responsibilities) through troubleshooting and information sharing.
In an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, MPHA is supporting the efforts of local boards of health, volunteers from academic institutions, and the state’s COVID-19 Command Center to implement comprehensive contact tracing across the state.
Resources for the Community
If you are looking for medical information, financial assistance, help with applying for unemployment or other public benefits, worker assistance, or other information, visit our COVID-19 resource page.