Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity

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!

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!

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.

To become a member of the Equity Task Force, click here. For more information, contact Jeneczka Roman at jroman@mapublichealth.org.

List of Task Force Members

Donate Now to Support the Task Force

Press Clips

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)

Equity Task Force Gives Gov. Baker Failing Grades for Protecting Marginalized Groups during COVID-19 Reopening (Boston.com 6/23/20)

Coalition: No Further Mass. Reopening Until Those At-Risk, Including People Of Color, Are Protected (WBUR 6/4/20)

Advocates Push For Release Of Inmates To Slow Coronavirus Spread In Prisons (CBS Boston/WBZ 4 5/12/20)

Coalition Calls On Gov. Baker To Release Prisoners Because Of Coronavirus (WBUR 5/12/20)

‘This disease is just crushing communities of color’: Emergency room doctors on how COVID-19 is laying bare inequities in health care (Boston.com 4/24/20)

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)

Additional Links

For press releases and media advisories, click here.

6/29/20 Testimony before the Massachusetts Senate

3/20/20 Press Conference

Fact Sheet on the Initial Recommendations (Issued 3/20/20)

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