The COVID-19 outbreak has not impacted Massachusetts residents equally. Communities already facing marginalization have been hardest hit by the virus and its economic repercussions, starkly exposing inequities across Massachusetts and the nation. The people most impacted include Black and Latinx residents, low-wage workers, immigrants, non-English speakers, people who are housing insecure or experiencing homelessness, people living in nursing homes, people with disabilities, people who are food insecure, and people who are incarcerated.
To advocate for equity in the state’s response to this crisis and rapidly develop policy recommendations, in March of 2020 MPHA convened a Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity, made up of more than 100 public health, health care, civil rights, immigrant justice, social service and community organizations. During the early days of the pandemic, the Task Force and its members lead the advocacy effort to enact new state policies, including:
- Establishing a Temporary Moratorium on Evictions & Foreclosures – enacted 4/20/20 and extended through 10/17/20.
- Passing Legislation Requiring the Collection and Reporting of Equity Data (including race, ethnicity and disability status) – enacted 6/8/20.
After the reopening began, the Task Force transitioned to focus on:
- ensuring a safe, equitable reopening and recovery,
- advocating for equity in the vaccine rollout, and
- stabilizing housing to avoid mass eviction and foreclosure.
The Equity Task Force wrapped up its formal work in July of 2021, but individual campaigns continue.