The COVID-19 outbreak is not impacting Massachusetts residents equally. Communities that are already facing marginalization are being 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, MPHA convened an Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity, 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. The Task Force and its members have 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!
Since the onset of the pandemic, the Task Force has transitioned into two action teams focused on 1) ensuring a safe, equitable reopening and recovery, and 2) advocating for a progressive approach to investing in our state’s recovery.
Criteria for an Equitable Reopening and Recovery: In June, MPHA and the Task Force called on Governor Baker to adopt key criteria for a safe and equitable reopening before moving to Phase 2 of his reopening plan. Unfortunately, Governor Baker ignored our recommendations and proceeded to Phase 2 and then Phase 3 without adequate policies in place. Since then, coronavirus infection rates have begun to rise again across the state. It is not too late for Governor Baker to change course! By significantly expanding free testing regardless of symptoms, helping small businesses implement public safety orders, developing robust enforcement mechanisms to protect workers and members of the public, collecting more complete data on infections, and listening to those who have been most impacted, Massachusetts can reduce infection rates for all groups and preserve the economic gains of reopening!
- 8/11/2020: Public Health Association Calls on Governor Baker to Take More Aggressive Public Health Measures to Stop Spread of COVID-19
- 6/22/2020: Task Force Gives Governor Baker D’s and F’s For Protecting Marginalized Groups During Reopening
- 6/4/20: Public Health & Community Leaders Demand that Gov Baker Not Allow a Reopening at the Expense of Black and Latinx Communities
- 6/4/20: Criteria for an Equitable Reopening
Invest in Recovery through Progressive Revenue. As Massachusetts responds to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting state revenue shortfall, we must not implement severe budget cuts that will worsen the economic impacts of this downturn and further harm individuals and communities who have already been disproportionately impacted by the virus. Instead, we must invest in public services that will improve public health, maintain safety net programs, stimulate economic growth, and reduce inequality. To avoid severe budget cuts, we must raise additional revenue in a progressive manner, by implementing corporate fair share policies. In this way, Massachusetts can raise significant new revenue from profitable corporations and their shareholders, avoid destructive budget cuts, and instead invest in an equitable recovery!
- Invest in Our Recovery Talking Points
- Invest in Our Recovery Fact Sheet
- Sign-on Letter for Individuals and Sign-on Letter for Organizations
- 8.20.20 Progressive Revenue Training – Summary and Overview
- 8.20.20 Progressive Revenue Training – Recording
- 8.20.20 Progressive Revenue Training – Slide deck with facilitator notes
In addition, the Task Force is recommending action on several additional policy priorities to mitigate the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on Black and Brown communities, poor communities, immigrant communities and others who have been disproportionately impacted. For a full list of our policy recommendations, click here.
Response to COVID-19 Reflects the Nation’s Upside-down Health Care System (Boston Globe 8/14/20)
As Mass. Reopens, Data Shows People of Color Face Greater Risk From COVID-19 (NBC Boston 7/10/20)
Advocates Push For Release Of Inmates To Slow Coronavirus Spread In Prisons (CBS Boston/WBZ 4 5/12/20)
Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response leaves too many behind (CommonWealth Magazine Oped 4/5/20)
Slowing the spread of COVID-19 the right way (CommonWealth Magazine Oped 3/21/20)
Task Force Outlines Immediate Needs to Fight Virus (State House News 3/20/20)
For press releases and media advisories, click here.
Fact Sheet on the Initial Recommendations (Issued 3/20/20)