Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director, (857) 302-7023, email@example.com
Oami Amarasingham, Deputy Director, 857-930-4191 (o), firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWS RELEASE 5/24/23: Massachusetts Public Health Association to Bestow Awards on Four Leaders Advancing Public Health in the Commonwealth
Boston, MA – Today people are likely to think of COVID-19 when hearing the term public health. In truth the range of public health issues – and the people who work diligently every day to safeguard the health of our communities – is vast and deep. From potential new outbreaks of Mpox and health care for the homeless to clean swimming pools and drinking water and services for those suffering from addiction or mental health, public health concerns each and every resident of the Commonwealth.
On Friday, June 2, 2023, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) will honor four public health professionals for their critical service, inspiring leadership, and commitment to racial justice at the 21st Annual MPHA Spring Awards Breakfast. The 2023 MPHA Awardees are:
- Local Public Health Leadership Award: Dr. Matilde Castiel, Commissioner of Worcester Health and Human Services and President of the Massachusetts Large Cities Health Coalition
- Paul Revere Award: Kevin Cranston, Assistant Commissioner, Director of the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences at the MA Department of Public Health
- Emerging Leader/Alfred Frechette Award: Tiana Davis, Deputy Public Health Commissioner for the City of Springfield.
- Lemuel Shattuck Award: Adrienne “Andy” Epstein, Brookline Advisory Council on Public Health
More than 350 people are expected at the sold out to be held at the Artists For Humanity EpiCenter in South Boston. Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Robbie Goldstein will speak along with President & CEO of Health Resources in Action and MPHA Board President Steve Ridini and Executive Director of Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery Initiative and MPHA Board President-Elect Roeshana Moore-Evans.
In addition to raising funds to support the advocacy and organizing agenda of MPHA, the breakfast offers an opportunity to recognize those whose daily work is devoted to making local communities and the entire Commonwealth healthier and more equitable.
“At this moment in history, when public health staff in Massachusetts and across the country have faced backlash and even harassment for their work it is more important than ever to celebrate those who have committed themselves to this hard and live-saving work,” stated Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of MPHA.
Media Advisory 5/10/23: Advocates Raise Concern that Lifting Universal Mask Mandate Leaves Most Vulnerable Risk
Massachusetts Public Health Association and allies urge equity approaches hospitals and other healthcare institutions establish mask policies
Boston, MA – As the Massachusetts COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ends on May 11, public health advocates are calling upon hospitals, doctors, and other health providers to adopt masking policies that will continue to provide access to safer environments for their patients and their staff who are immunocompromised or otherwise at higher risk for the severe consequences of COVID.
“The end of universal masking policies in health care settings will put those seeking medical care who are already more vulnerable – people with respiratory diseases or cancer, people with disabilities, and older adults – at risk of contracting COVID and other potentially life-threatening illnesses,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA).
MPHA supports a more nuanced approach that centers equity and does not put the onus on the patient, an undue burden on those who may already feel disempowered in health care settings. One example that warrants consideration is the decision by UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester to keep masks in higher risk settings such as the emergency department and oncology. This approach aligns with public health strategies deployed over the past few decades to reduce hospital-acquired infections that have shifted the practice of wearing gloves only in certain circumstances to one that is now considered a universal precaution.
Pavlos also underscored that predictions by public health advocates played out time and time again over the past three years as historically marginalized communities experienced the highest rates of COVID infections and death due to COVID. According to the Commonwealth’s data collection, those who identified as Black, Asian, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Hispanic/Latine accounted for 76.84% of the cumulative case rates and 75.62% of the cumulative death rates since the onset of COVID-19 despite accounting for only 38.99% of the population in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (COVID-19 Response Reporting | Mass.gov) These disparate health outcomes expose the deeply embedded systemic barriers caused by racial and social inequities that existed long before the pandemic and were exacerbated by it.
Media Availability 5/9/2023: Investment in Regional Transit (RTAs) Good for Public Health
WHO: Alexis Walls, Assistant Campaign Manager of the Massachusetts Public Health Association
WHAT: Analysis and commentary regarding regional transit items impacting public health in the Senate Ways & Means (SWM) Budget released today
- The Senate Ways & Means budget proposal represents an historic investment in RTAs in Massachusetts and acknowledgement of the public health, economic equity and environmental justice issues connected to an improved regional transit infrastructure. At $100M dollars, including $56M in operating funds to improve service, the SWM proposal moves transit equity a major step forward.
- According to a survey conducted by the MassINC Polling Group in collaboration with the Regional Transit Authority Advocates Coalition (RTAAC) and sponsored by The Barr Foundation, current RTA riders are using the bus for many different types of trips – with health care appointments accounting for 62% and shopping and errands (including food shopping, pharmacies), 74%.
- The survey also showed that communities of color and those with low-incomes are overrepresented among bus riders: less likely to be white (54% versus 72% statewide). more likely to be under age 30 (34% versus 22%). A majority (53%) of riders make less than $50,000 a year, 43% have a high school diploma or less education, and 80% do not own or lease a car (34%) or have only one car (46%).
Media Advisory 5/3/23: Advocates bring case for SAPHE 2.0 to Joint Committee on Public Health
Aim to advance legislation that passed both House and Senate in last session to address critical infrastructure and equity needs to shore up Commonwealth’s public health readiness
WHAT: The Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community (SAPHE 2.0) Act is a top legislative priority for the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) because of its foundational approach to ensuring that every city and town – regardless of race, income, or zip code – will have the resources and tools needed to address both daily health needs and emergency situations impacting the health and lives of its residents. Sponsored by Senator Jo Comerford and Representatives Hannah Kane and Denise Garlick, this critical bill will transform the Massachusetts local public health system by ensuring minimum standards for every community, increasing local capacity, creating a uniform data collection and reporting system, and establishing sustainable state funding.
SAPHE 2.0 builds on a body of work undertaken by the executive branch, the legislature, municipal leaders, public health officials, and fiscal policy experts. This bill implements the unanimous recommendations of the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health, as well as a key recommendation of the Joint Committee on COVID19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management’s report. SAPHE 2.0 also serves as the roadmap for efficiently and equitably spending the legislature’s $200M ARPA investment in local and regional public health. SAPHE 2.0, as unanimously passed by the legislature in 2022, provides the framework to realize a truly equitable and efficient local public health system.
WHO: Public health administrators, municipal leaders, and advocates from across the Commonwealth will present testimony and detail the current and ever present need for these improvements. Along with MPHA, organizational sponsors include MA Association of Public Health Nurses, MA Association of Health Boards, Blue Cross Blue Shield MA, the MA Healthy Aging Collaborative, regional planning commissions, and many more.
WHEN AND WHERE: Thursday, May 4th, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM in State House Hearing Room A-2. Also available via Hearings & Events (malegislature.gov)
WHY: “SAPHE 2.0 will transform the Commonwealth’s public health system into one that is informed, responsive, connected, and nimble,” said Oami Amarasingham, MPHA Deputy Director. While many of the issues identified and recommendations made in the Special Commission’s report pre-date COVID, the need to address them proactively was brought into stark relief over the past three years.
Amarasingham added, “Our decentralized public health and response systems – and the longstanding inequities and inefficiencies embedded within them – became more widely known as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Having unanimously passed the bill through both chambers at the end of the last legislative session, the House and Senate clearly understand that the time to act is now. We look forward to swift action on SAPHE 2.0 so that our public health system is prepared to meet the public health challenges of today and tomorrow.”
For more details regarding SAPHE 2.0 or to arrange an interview, please contact Toni Troop, MPHA Media Consultant by phone (617-212-7571) or email (email@example.com).
News Release 4/18/23: More than three-quarters of Massachusetts residents support boosting funding for regional bus service.
As lawmakers on Beacon Hill dig in on this year’s state budget, 79% of Massachusetts residents support increasing funding for the state’s 15 Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs), which provide local bus and paratransit service beyond the reaches of MBTA bus and subway service. Nearly as many (74%) support using some of the new voter-approved surtax on the portion of income over $1 million to fund the increase.
That’s according to a new poll of 1,401 Massachusetts residents conducted February 23 to March 7, 2023 by The MassINC Polling Group (MPG) in collaboration with the Regional Transit Authority Advocates Coalition (RTAAC). The poll was sponsored by The Barr Foundation.
Even when told the specifics of the policy – increasing the amount the RTA’s receive in the budget from $94 million to $150 million – 69% of voters support the proposal. Support rebounds when new funding is earmarked for offering more bus service at night and on weekends (79%).
“It’s not surprising for support for a policy proposal to decline slightly when real numbers are attached, and to increase when talking about how new funding would be used,” says MPG Senior Research Director Richard Parr. “What is perhaps more surprising is that support for RTA funding is strong across the entire state, not just in the areas served by RTAs that would benefit it.”
Many of these subgroups are also overrepresented among bus riders, who are less likely to be white (54% versus 72% statewide). more likely to be under age 30 (34% versus 22%). A majority (53%) of riders make less than $50,000 a year, 43% have a high school diploma or less education, and 80% do not own or lease a car (34%) or have only one car (46%).
Current riders are using the bus for many different types of trips – shopping and errands (74%), health care appointments (62%), work (61%), visiting friends and family (57%), and going out at night (52%). And 45% of current riders say they would want to use the bus for nightlife more than they can now, suggesting a latent demand for expanded night and weekend service. Non-riders also say they would like to use the bus to access nightlife (35%), but also basics like shopping and errands (40%), health care appointments (36%), and commuting to work (32%).
“A robust, statewide public transportation system is necessary to achieve better health for RTA riders, who, this survey shows, are more likely to be Black and low-income, and who rely on the bus for day-to-day activities like grocery shopping and going to the doctor,” says Alexis Walls, Assistant Campaign Director for the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) and co-chair of the Regional Transit Authority Advocates Coalition (RTAAC).
News Release 11/7/22: Dr. Myron Allukian, Jr. Honored with Paul Revere Award for Leadership and Lifetime Achievement in Public Health
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) announced that it has presented its highest honor, the Paul Revere Award for Lifetime Achievement, to Myron Allukian, Jr., DDS, MPH, in recognition of his unwavering commitment to public health. The award was presented last night at a reception as part of the American Public Health Association’s 150th Anniversary Meeting and Expo in Boston. Dr. Allukian is a Past President of both the Massachusetts Public Health Association and the American Public Health Association. He is the first dentist to receive the Paul Revere Award.
“Dr. Myron Allukian, Jr. has been a true luminary in the field of public health,” said MPHA Executive Director Carlene Pavlos. “He has worked tirelessly throughout his professional life to advance the importance of oral health as a public health priority. Millions of Massachusetts residents, and millions in other states, have better oral health as a result of his leadership for community water fluoridation, a safe and effective public health measure.”
News Release 8/9/22: Public Health and Municipal Leaders Decry Governor Baker’s Proposal to Weaken Critical Local Public Health Legislation
BOSTON, MA – Public health leaders and municipal officials from across the Commonwealth are condemning Governor Charlie Baker’s decision not to sign transformative public health legislation and are urging the legislature to reject his proposed amendments to the bill. The Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community (SAPHE 2.0) Act would overhaul the state’s woefully inadequate local public health system and was passed unanimously in both the House (153-0) and Senate (39-0). Yesterday evening, the Governor returned the bill to the legislature with amendments that undermine the minimum public health standards established in the bill by making the standards optional.
“Last month both houses of the legislature voted unanimously to pass the SAPHE 2.0 Act,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “House and Senate leadership brought this bill to the floor in order to address the longstanding inequities and inefficiencies that have plagued the local public health system in the Commonwealth. By returning the bill with an amendment that eliminates consistent public health standards for all municipalities, the Governor is doubling down on the patchwork public health system that perpetuated inequities during the pandemic. Public health crises do not respect municipal boundaries. Every Massachusetts resident deserves basic public health protections no matter their race, income, or zip code. We urge the legislature to continue to lead on public health, reject these amendments, and return the SAPHE 2.0 Act to the Governor’s desk.”
News Release 7/29/22: Public Health Leaders Praise Passage of Bill to Fix Local Public Health System, Call on Gov. Baker to Sign Without Delay
BOSTON, MA – Today, public health leaders from across the Commonwealth praised the Massachusetts legislature for passing the Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community (SAPHE 2.0) Act. If signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker, this landmark bill will overhaul the state’s broken public health system, providing better and more consistent public health protections to residents of all municipalities. The bi-partisan bill was passed unanimously in both chambers.
“This is a momentous day for health equity in Massachusetts,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “The SAPHE 2.0 bill will ensure that strong public health protections are available to all residents of our Commonwealth – regardless of race, income, or zip code. We are deeply grateful to the leadership of the House and Senate and to our legislative champions, Senator Jo Comerford, Rep. Denise Garlick, and Rep. Hannah Kane. We call on Governor Charlie Baker to protect our communities by signing the bill into law without delay.”
SAPHE 2.0 creates minimum public health standards for every Massachusetts community, ensures a qualified workforce by credentialing public health workers, incentivizes municipalities to share services, creates a uniform data collection and reporting system, and dedicates state funding to support local boards of health and health departments.
News Release 7/25/22: Public Health Organizations Endorse Question 1 to Improve Transportation and Public Education
Boston, MA– The campaign working to pass the Fair Share Amendment, the proposed state tax on incomes above $1 million which would raise billions of dollars to invest in transportation and public education, today announced the endorsement of seven public health organizations from across the state. The Fair Share Amendment is Question 1 on the November statewide ballot.
“Our coalition works to promote youth health, well-being, and health equity in our region, and nothing could be more important to those priorities than strong, well-funded public schools!” said Kat Allen, Coalition Coordinator for the Communities that Care Coalition of Franklin County and North Quabbin. “Question 1, the Fair Share Amendment, would be an absolute game-changer for public education in Massachusetts for years to come.”
The seven public health organizations collectively represent hundreds of healthcare workers, public health advocates and community leaders from across Massachusetts, and include statewide organizations as well as local groups from Allston-Brighton, Franklin County, Greater Lowell, and Greater Worcester.
“Passing the Fair Share Amendment will improve public health and racial justice across the Commonwealth,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “Public transit is a lifeline to jobs, education, healthy food, and medical care. By improving quality and accessibility to public transit services, Question 1 will improve access to these key drivers of health and health equity, while also improving air quality and reducing climate emissions.“
News Release 6/29/22: Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Unveils Equity Report Card Giving Baker Administration Mediocre Grades on COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Boston, MA – A coalition of racial justice, immigrant advocacy, and public health leaders unveiled a detailed report card which shows that the Baker administration left behind marginalized communities in its COVID-19 vaccination distribution.
The report card gives the Baker administration Bs, Cs, Ds and Fs in four key aspects of the COVID vaccine distribution efforts. It grades the administration on both its “intent” to consider equity in the vaccine distribution as well as the “outcome” of their approach to equity.
“While Massachusetts can point to strong overall rates of vaccinations, this data obscures the inequities for historically marginalized communities,” said Elizabeth Sweet, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition. “For example, the mass-vaccination sites that were set up in April and May 2021 favored those that could take time off of work and had access to a personal vehicle. Barriers like these proved burdensome for people of color, immigrant communities, and low-income populations. Moving forward, we hope the next Administration better accounts for equity in the public health space – and in all areas of governing.”
The following table breaks down the four “equity criteria” used by the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition, as well as the specific grades the coalition issued for both “intent” and “outcome” on these equity criteria.
News Release 6/29/22: Municipal Leaders in Gateway Cities Call for Passage of Bill to Boost Equity in Regional Transit
BOSTON, MA – Today, municipal leaders from cities and towns across the state’s Regional Transit Authority (RTA) service areas, including Gateway Cities, sent a letter to the members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, asking them to pass An Act to Improve and Expand Regional Transit Accessibility in the Commonwealth (S.2277), filed by State Senator Harriette Chandler and Representative Natalie Blais.The bill, which was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Transportation in February, would stabilize funding for RTAs and pave the way for better, more affordable public transportation service in Massachusetts. Passage of the bill would also mark a critical step towards achieving greater regional equity in the allocation of state public transportation dollars.
“As municipal leaders, we represent a wide variety of cities and towns. Our communities are different in many ways, from population to geography and demographics. But we share a commitment to improving regional public transportation options – both to improve the lives of our constituents and to help meet the state’s climate change goals,” said Mayor Brian De Peña of Lawrence.
“All Massachusetts residents deserve access to high quality public transportation services,” said Mayor Coogan of Fall River. “Residents of our communities rely on transit services to access jobs, schools, grocery stores, and medical appointments. It is crucial to provide a system that meets these core needs.”
The Commonwealth’s 15 RTAs and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) are the backbone of the state’s public transportation system. Though 55% of Massachusetts residents live in an RTA service area, less than 7% of state transit operational funds go to support the RTAs.
“We cannot allow the status quo for transportation in Massachusetts to stand any longer,” said State Senator Harriette Chandler of Worcester. “Our constituents are overwhelmed by record inflation, skyrocketing gas prices, a global pandemic, wealth disparities, and climate change. We need policies in place that will efficiently and equitably support our communities in managing the effects of these crises.”
News Release 6/3/22: Public Health Association Releases Candidate Questionnaire, Calls for Statewide Public Health Cabinet Position
BOSTON, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) announced the release of a candidate questionnaire for current candidates in the Massachusetts governor’s race. The questionnaire asks each candidate to provide details on their public health-related platforms, including their position on creating a cabinet-level position to oversee public health policies statewide.
“The COVID pandemic has made it crystal clear that we need a robust public health system to keep us all safe and healthy. But here in Massachusetts we also witnessed the fallout – in delayed decision-making, confused priorities and poor planning – that resulted because public health leadership was not in direct communication with the governor,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “If we are serious about reducing health inequities, the state’s public health leader must have a seat at the table with the other cabinet secretaries when policy is being made about the full range of issues that impact health – from the environment to food access to transportation.”
The questionnaire covers a broad range of public health policies, from strategies for reducing opioid abuse and improving air quality to continued support for COVID-19 testing and vaccination, increasing access to affordable housing and public transportation, reducing health inequities, and transforming the local public health system.
News Release 6/3/22: Public Health Association Honors Health Equity Leaders
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) presented awards to five health equity leaders at its 20th Anniversary Spring Awards Breakfast. The event, which was attended by more than 250 healthcare and public health leaders from around the Commonwealth, was held in the State Room at 60 State Street in Boston.
The organization’s highest honor, the Paul Revere Award for Lifetime Achievement, was given to Ashish Jha, MD, PhD, who served as the Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health until he was appointed recently by President Biden as Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response. He is recognized globally as an expert on pandemic preparedness and response as well as on domestic and global health policy.
The Catalyst for Justice Award was presented jointly to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director Dr. Bisola Ojikutu “for centering equity in public health policy and practice”. Together, Mayor Wu and Dr. Ojikutu have championed transparency, reliance on clear data benchmarks, and a commitment to health equity in the city’s response to COVID-19. They have also focused on achieving more equitable health outcomes by working to improve the social conditions in which Boston residents live, including access to healthy food and stable affordable housing.
News Release 5/26/22: Public Health Leaders Call for Passage of SAPHE 2.0 Bill to Create 21st-Century Local Public Health System
Boston, MA – Today, dozens of public health leaders, elected officials, and local public health professionals gathered on the State House steps for an in-person rally, calling for the creation of a 21st-century local public health system for Massachusetts. They urged the legislature to pass the Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community Act (SAPHE 2.0) in order to realize the vision laid out three years ago by the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health.
“Massachusetts is making exciting new investments in local public health,” said State Senator Jo Comerford. “But funding alone is not enough. We must also enact the significant policy reforms that are needed to create a truly effective local public health system.”
“Our local and regional public health system was fractured before, and the COVID public health crisis has nearly broken it,” said Representative Denise Garlick. “We have invested ARPA resources and must ensure legislative language is in place so those funds are properly used to build a truly equitable local public health system for every Massachusetts resident.”
“It has been three years since the release of the recommendations of the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health,” said State Representative Hannah Kane. “Working together, we have made significant progress towards addressing the issues identified by the Commission. As the Legislature’s formal session comes to a close, we need to pass SAPHE 2.0 across the finish line.”
“Investing in public health makes good economic sense,” said Eileen McAnneny, President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. “The local public health system is critical infrastructure that keeps our communities safe and our economy thriving.”
“It’s time for Massachusetts to create a 21st-century local public health system,” said Kristina Kimani, Assistant Policy Director for the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “We have the roadmap, thanks to the work of the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health. Now we must implement it.”
News Release 4/20/22: Advocates Raise Alarm on Dangerous Investments in Section 35 in the House Ways and Means FY23 Budget Proposal
BOSTON, MA – Today, Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts (PLS) held a press conference at the Massachusetts State House in response to the Massachusetts House’s recent proposal to increase funding for the incarceration of people civilly committed for treatment of substance use disorder (SUD), under the statute known as Section 35 (M.G.L. c.123 s.35). The current budget is poised to funnel $21.9 million into the Department of Corrections’ Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center (MASAC) facility and $2.5 million into the Section 35 facility operated by the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, respectively.
Speakers – including public health experts and directly impacted people – urged the passage of amendments 332 and 333 by Representative Ruth Balser to redirect the money away from correctional facilities and into health care settings.
“Substance and alcohol use disorders are medical conditions that deserve prompt diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Todd Kerensky, President of the Massachusetts Society of Addiction Medicine. “As with all medical conditions, people should expect treatment to be grounded in the four principles of medical ethics: autonomy, do good (beneficence), do no harm (non-maleficence), and justice. We can have a reasonable debate about whether involuntary treatment is potentially helpful or harmful. However, putting people in jail to receive treatment is unjust. Having a substance or alcohol use disorder is not a crime.”
News Release 3/10/22: On 2nd Anniversary of COVID State of Emergency, Public Health Association Calls on State Leaders to Rebuild Public Health in MA
BOSTON, MA – Today, two years after a state of emergency was declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) called on state leaders to rebuild and reimagine the role of public health in Massachusetts.
“The COVID-19 pandemic taught us many hard lessons. The failure to center both equity and public health expertise in the state’s response to the pandemic cost us dearly,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “Now, we must commit to building a 21st-century public health system that will provide robust protections to all Massachusetts residents, regardless of income, race or zip code.”
Given that public health will be a central issue in this election cycle, MPHA will be asking gubernatorial candidates to fill out a questionnaire regarding their public health-related platforms.
News Release 1/26/22: Public Health Advocates Raise Alarm on Proposed Funding Cuts
BOSTON, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) criticized a 33% proposed cut to local public health in Governor Baker’s fiscal year 2023 budget.
“A proposed cut to local public health in the midst of a continuing global pandemic defies both logic and common sense,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “It is made all the more egregious by the fact that the administration continues to place an enormous amount of responsibility on the shoulders of local boards of health.”
The $5M cut proposed to the “Public Health Excellence Grant Program” at the Department of Public Health would negatively impact public health capacity and staffing in communities across the Commonwealth.
“MPHA will work with our legislative allies to ensure that the House and the Senate budgets include the needed resources for our local boards of health,” continued Pavlos. “As they continue their essential work to deliver vaccines, conduct tests, and enforce public health guidance, local public health workers need and deserve the support of state policymakers.” ##
News Release 1/10/22: Public Health Leaders Call for Tough Questions at Legislative Oversight Hearing
BOSTON, MA – In preparation for tomorrow’s hearing by the Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness Management, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) has issued an open list of questions for Governor Charlie Baker and Secretary Marilou Sudders.
“This is an opportunity to understand the reasoning behind the administration’s failure to implement common-sense measures, including a universal mask mandate,” said MPHA Executive Director Carlene Pavlos. “We need legislators to ask tough questions as we face this overwhelming surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.”
MPHA encourages legislators and members of the media to ask the following questions:
1. Universal indoor mask wearing is a simple and effective strategy to reduce transmission. Gov. Baker, in the midst of an unprecedented COVID surge that is overwhelming our hospitals, what is preventing you from implementing a statewide indoor mask mandate?
2. There is broad agreement on the importance of keeping schools open. The state has extended the mask mandate in public schools to reduce the spread. Gov. Baker, why are you jeopardizing in-person learning by refusing to implement a universal indoor mask mandate to prevent spread in other indoor environments?
3. The state has distributed millions of rapid antigen tests. However, there is no state-specific guidance on their use, and there is widespread confusion about the most effective way that residents can use these tests and whether they should report the results. Gov. Baker, what is your strategy for using rapid tests to slow the spread?
The Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) is a nonprofit organization that promotes a healthy Massachusetts through advocacy, community organizing, and coalition building. We are leaders in the movement to create health equity by addressing the root causes of health and wellness. We promote policies that impact the major drivers of health outcomes, such as access to healthy food, safe affordable housing, and transportation. We also advocate for equitable public health services throughout the Commonwealth. To learn more, visit www.mapublichealth.org. ###
News Release 1/7/22: Advocates and Public Health Leaders Praise Advancement of Bill to Fix MA’s Broken Local Public Health System, Call for Swift Passage of Fundamental Reforms
BOSTON, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) praised the Joint Committee on Public Health for issuing a favorable report on the Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community Act (SAPHE 2.0). This landmark bill would create minimum public health standards for every Massachusetts community, ensure a qualified workforce by credentialing public health workers, incentivize municipalities to share services, create a uniform data collection and reporting system, and dedicate state funding to support local boards of health and health departments.
“This favorable report from the Public Health Committee marks an important step forward in the effort to transform our broken local public health system,” said Kristina Kimani, Assistant Policy Director at the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “The SAPHE 2.0 bill contains the critical policy solutions that Massachusetts needs to ensure that all residents benefit from effective public health protections. We are extremely grateful to Public Health Committee Chairs Marjorie Decker and Jo Comerford for their leadership and support, as well as for the unwavering commitment of the bill’s three sponsors, Chair Jo Comerford, Chair Denise Garlick, and Rep. Hannah Kane.”
MPHA is part of a coalition of local and state officials, public health experts and academic leaders that have been calling on the Legislature to take urgent action to improve the local public health system in Massachusetts.
News Release 12/7/21: Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Releases Equity Principles for Workplace COVID-19 Vaccine Policies and Safety Practices
Multilingual resource will support employer efforts to increase vaccinations and keep workers safe in an equitable way
BOSTON – Today the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition (VEN) is releasing a set of equity principles for workplace COVID-19 vaccine policies and safety practices. The resource is intended to guide employers through the process of implementing policies that will increase COVID-19 vaccinations, limit the spread of the virus and promote employee health and wellbeing, while taking into consideration the significant racial and social inequities that have been perpetuated by the pandemic and Massachusetts’s vaccine rollout.
“There is no doubt that widespread COVID-19 vaccination is our best tool to combat the spread of the virus, and workplace policies requiring employees to be vaccinated have been effective in increasing uptake,” said Dr. Atyia Martin, Co-Chair of the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition. “However, employers must take a thoughtful, collaborative approach to these policies that considers the racial and social inequities that existed long before the pandemic, have been exacerbated by the pandemic and have played out in the state’s vaccination program. We hope that this resource will help employers center equity in the development and implementation of these policies in a way that supports the health and wellbeing of everyone in the community.”
The guide emphasizes that employers have a key role to play in supporting health education and partnering with trusted messengers to get employees and their families vaccinated. It outlines strategies that employers could adopt to implement comprehensive workplace policies that are informed by significant employee engagement and promote their health and wealth. Some suggested strategies include hosting on-site vaccination clinics and testing that can be conducted on paid time, partnering with trusted community organizations to host on-site educational events, implementing comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation and prevention measures and offering a broad paid sick leave policy.
Equity Principles for Workplace COVID Vaccine Policies and Safety Practices: English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole.
News Release 12/2/21: Public Health Leaders Praise Legislature’s Investment in Local Public Health,
Call for Additional Policy Fixes for Broken System
BOSTON, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) issued the following statement in response to the release of the House and Senate Conference Committee’s ARPA bill, which allocates $200M towards improving the state’s local public health system.
“This marks a major step forward in the effort to transform our dangerously inadequate and inequitable local public health system,” said Maddie Ribble, Director of Public Policy at the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “Thanks to the funding allocated in this bill, Massachusetts will move closer to a 21st-century local public health system that our state can be proud of. We are extremely grateful for the support of Senate President Spilka, House Speaker Mariano, Chair Rodrigues, Chair Michlewitz, Chair Hunt, and Chair Decker for their support of these critical investments, as well as for the unflagging leadership of Sen. Comerford, Chair Garlick, and Rep. Kane.”
“We are disappointed that essential policy reforms to address the significant structural challenges in our local health system were not included in the final conference bill. As a result, it is more critical than ever that the SAPHE 2.0 legislation is passed quickly into law,” said Ribble. “Funding is only part of the solution. To really fix this broken system, we must implement the policy changes that are desperately needed, as well.”
News Release 11/22/21: Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Releases New Data Visualization Revealing Inequitable COVID Vaccine Rates for 12-19 Year Olds in MA
Findings underscore need for racial data, should inform equity strategy for vaccination of 5-11 year olds and boosters
BOSTON – Today the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition is releasing a new data visualization in partnership with Boston Indicators that depicts the inequities in COVID-19 vaccination rates among 12-19 year olds in Massachusetts. Overall, the scatterplot shows that many communities with higher cumulative incidences of COVID-19 and higher social vulnerability ratings have lower rates of vaccination among 12-19 year olds. Conversely, many communities with lower incidences of COVID and lower social vulnerability ratings have higher rates of vaccination among 12-19 year olds.
“We are nine months into the state’s vaccination program, yet we are still seeing the same inequities that plagued the program from the start. The data visualization we are releasing today shows in no uncertain terms that many of the Massachusetts communities that are most vulnerable in emergencies and have the highest cumulative COVID incidence also have the lowest vaccination rates for 12-19 year olds,” said Dr. Atyia Martin, Co-Chair of the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition. “We urge the Baker administration to recognize these inequities and use this data to guide their strategy moving forward as eligibility is expanded even further to 5-11 year olds and to the general public for boosters. Furthermore, we continue to urge the Department of Public Health to report vaccination rates by race/ethnicity and age, as well as COVID cases by age at the city/town level, to better understand the racial inequities in vaccinations.”
News Release 11/3/21: Public Health Leaders Cheer Senate Investment in Local Public Health
Proposed Investments Will Transform Broken System
BOSTON, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) issued the following statement in response to the release of the Senate Ways and Means Committee’s ARPA bill, which allocates $250M over five years towards improving the state’s local public health system.
“The public health investments in this bill will truly be transformational,” said Maddie Ribble, Director of Public Policy at the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “After decades of debate, this funding will finally set Massachusetts on a path to fix our broken local public health system and ensure that every resident – regardless of income, race or zip code – has access to real local health protections. We are extremely grateful for the commitment and decisive leadership of Senate President Karen Spilka, Chair Michael Rodrigues, and Vice Chair Cindy Friedman, as well as for the tireless advocacy of Senator Jo Comerford.”
Together with the SAPHE 2.0 legislation, this investment will implement the 2019 unanimous recommendations of the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health, which established a blueprint for transforming our current system.
“Today’s action follows upon crucial House investments led by Speaker Ron Mariano, Chair Aaron Michlewitz, and Chair Marjorie Decker and years of advocacy by Chair Denise Garlick and Representative Hannah Kane,” said Ribble. “This is a truly a bipartisan, bi-cameral effort that will foster sustainable changes for decades to come.”
News Release 10/25/21: Coalition Applauds House Leaders for ARPA Funding to Begin Transformation of Broken Local Public Health System
BOSTON, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) issued the following statement, in response to the release of the House Ways and Means Committee’s ARPA bill, which allocates $150M over three years towards improving the state’s local public health system.
“We thank Speaker Ron Mariano and Chair Aaron Michlewitz, as well as Chair Marjorie Decker, for taking this crucial step towards fixing our state’s broken local public health system,” said Maddie Ribble, Director of Public Policy at the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “This funding is essential to beginning the transformation of our system over the next three years. Together with the SAPHE 2.0 legislation, this funding represents a major step towards ensuring that every Massachusetts resident – regardless of their income, race or zip code – has access to equitable, effective, and efficient local health protections. This major progress would not have been possible without the commitment and vision of Chair Denise Garlick and Representative Hannah Kane, and we thank them for their tireless advocacy over many years.”
MPHA is part of a coalition of public health experts, local and state officials, and academic leaders that have been calling for an infusion of federal funding to transform Massachusetts’ dangerously inadequate local public health system. The group has asked the Legislature to invest American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds coming to Massachusetts from the federal government towards building a local public health system that is equitable, efficient and effective.
News Release 9/21/21: Coalition Urges Infusion of Federal Funding to Transform Massachusetts’ Broken Local Public Health System
BOSTON, MA – Today, a coalition of public health, municipal, regional, state and academic leaders held a press conference on the State House steps, calling for an infusion of federal funding to transform Massachusetts’ dangerously inadequate local public health system. The group is calling on the Legislature to invest 5% of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds coming to Massachusetts from the federal government – roughly $251 million over 5 years – towards building a local public health system that is equitable, efficient and effective. The funding would be used to:
- Establish integrated, 21st century data systems
- Invest in workforce development to ensure that every community benefits from the expertise of trained professionals, and
- Eliminate the significant inequities in public health services and capacity between municipalities.
Following the press conference, members of the coalition testified at the virtual hearing held by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Federal Stimulus and Census Oversight, which was focused on possible uses of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding in the areas of Health Care, Mental Health, Public Health and Human Services.
News Release 8/20/21: Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Applauds Reinstatement of COVID-19 Hospitalization Data, Calls for Vaccine Equity Benchmarks
Baker administration has failed to comply with budget line item mandating establishment of benchmarks by July 30, 2021
BOSTON – The Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition is today applauding the Baker administration for reinstating their reporting of demographic data on COVID-19 hospitalizations. The move comes after the coalition sent a letter to the Department of Public Health urging immediate action to address the lapse in reporting and comply with Line Item 4000-0009 from the FY22 budget requiring the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to establish COVID-19 goals and benchmarks by July 30, 2021 in order to achieve equitable vaccine distribution in disproportionately impacted communities.
Although the Baker administration has resumed reporting demographic data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, it has still not set the benchmarks that the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition has been calling for since February and that the FY22 budget mandated. The Line Item language specifically required the administration to consider demographic data on COVID-19 hospitalizations when establishing these benchmarks.
“The Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition is pleased that the Baker administration has finally listened to the calls of Black, Latinx, AAPI and immigrant leaders by resuming reporting of demographic data on COVID-19 hospitalizations,” said Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Co-Chairs Dr. Atyia Martin of the Resilient 21 Coalition and Next Leadership Development, Myran Parker-Brass of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “This data is essential for measuring COVID-19’s disparate impact on BIPOC communities and devising an equitable public health response, especially as the Delta variant continues to increase cases, and there never should have been a lapse in the first place.
News Release 7/28/21: Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition, Rep. Pressley Call on Baker Administration to Resume Reporting of Hospitalization Data
Coalition fears administration will not fulfill budget mandate to establish vaccine benchmarks that consider hospitalization rates
BOSTON – The Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition today sent a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health requesting that the administration take immediate action to address a lapse in reporting of demographic data on COVID-19 hospitalization rates in Massachusetts. The coalition of racial justice, immigrant justice, civil rights and public health organizations is calling for a comprehensive, public explanation for why the State stopped reporting this data and information about their strategy to provide accurate, quality data and quickly reinstate this reporting. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, State Senators Sonia Chang-Diaz and Becca Rausch, State Representative Mindy Domb and Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone are also supporting the Coalition’s call.
“Demographic data on COVID-19 hospitalization rates is essential for measuring the disparate impact the pandemic has had on BIPOC and immigrant communities and for crafting a targeted vaccination strategy that centers equity. We know that Black and Latinx residents in Massachusetts have continued to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 while also having lower vaccination rates than white residents,” said Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Co-Chairs Dr. Atyia Martin of the Resilient 21 Coalition and Next Leadership Development, Myran Parker-Brass of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “Especially as the more contagious Delta variant is rising in prominence and pushing case numbers up again, it is alarming that the Baker administration has suddenly stopped reporting this data and not provided a thorough, public explanation for the decision or outlined a strategy to begin reporting the data again. In order to adequately address inequities, we need to be able to measure them.”
News Release 6/22/21: As MA Reaches Goal of 4.1 Million Vaccinated, Coalition Urges Action on Racial Disparities
Boston, MA – The Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition is today responding to the news that Massachusetts is about to reach Governor Baker’s goal of fully vaccinating 4.1 million people. Coalition Co-Chairs Dr. Atyia Martin of the Resilient 21 Coalition, Myran Parker-Brass of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association issued the following statement:
“Massachusetts has made great progress on vaccinating a large percentage of the Commonwealth’s overall population, but a high quantity of shots administered does not ensure equity. Our work is far from over. Especially as new variants emerge and become dominant in the United States, it is essential that we act with urgency to ensure residents of Massachusetts’ hardest hit communities receive the funding, resources, education and access to the vaccine that they need.
“Massachusetts’ vaccination program has been deeply inequitable from day one. As of June 17, 56.5% of white residents were fully vaccinated compared to 40 percent of Black residents and 38 percent of Latinx residents. This is despite the fact that Black and Latinx residents have been disproportionately impacted by high COVID-19 hospitalization rates. Many of the 20 hardest hit communities continue to have vaccination rates that lag behind the rest of the state. The state must not pretend that these disparities don’t exist.
“While the Baker administration celebrates reaching its 4.1 million goal, we urge the Governor to double down on efforts to close these racial disparities that have persisted since the beginning of the vaccination program. One step that the administration can take immediately is to identify benchmarks to measure its progress on vaccine equity, which our coalition of racial justice, immigrant justice, public health and civil rights organizations has been demanding for four months now. To truly have a nation-leading vaccination program, we need to ensure that all of our communities are protected.”
News Release 6/17/21: Public Health Association Calls Governor’s Lack of Investment in Local Health Shortsighted and Dangerous
Boston, MA – In response to today’s announcement from Governor Baker about the allocation of $2.8 billion in federal funds, Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association released the following statement:
“Governor Baker’s proposal today to allocate $2.8 billion in federal resources would provide support to many worthwhile public investments with public health benefit. However, the fact that the Governor has failed to make a single dime of investment in our state’s local public health system is both shortsighted and dangerous.
During the pandemic, we have seen just how inadequate, inefficient, and fundamentally inequitable our local public health system is. Despite the dedication of our state’s local health staff and volunteers, the Commonwealth’s decentralized approach to delivering public health services leads to extreme variability across municipalities and thereby puts every resident at risk. After witnessing so much needless suffering and death over the last months, the availability of billions of dollars in federal funding provides us with an unprecedented opportunity and the responsibility to transform this system once and for all.
As detailed last week by the Coalition for Local Public Health, by investing a modest portion of American Rescue Plan Act fund, Massachusetts can seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to finally ensure that all residents benefit from an effective and equitable local public health system.
The Governor has ignored this opportunity, to the detriment of the residents of Massachusetts. Now, it is incumbent on the legislature to act and ensure that no resident lacks public health protections because of their race, income, or zip code. “
News Release 6/9/21: Public Health Leaders Call for Generational Investment of Federal Funds to Transform Inefficient & Inequitable Local Health System
After Nearly 18,000 COVID Deaths, Leaders Demand “No More Band-Aids”
Boston, MA – Today, public health leaders, elected officials, and local public health professionals gathered on the State House steps to call for the transformation of the Commonwealth’s inefficient and inequitable local public health system. The Coalition for Local Public Health and the Massachusetts Public Health Association announced their proposal to allocate $250.9M in federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 over the next five years to build local public health capacity, upgrade data systems, and support workforce development.
“We have known for decades that the local public health system in Massachusetts was inadequate,” said Cheryl Sbarra, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards. “We will not accept any more Band-Aids on a broken system. What we need now is transformational investment.”
“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a 21st century local public health system,” said State Senator Jason Lewis. “It’s essential that we take the lessons learned from the devastation of COVID and use these funds to create a stronger, more equitable system for the future.”
Media Advisory 6/8/21: Public Health Leaders to Call for Generational Investment of Federal Funds to Transform Inefficient & Inequitable Local Health System
After Nearly 18,000 COVID Deaths, Leaders to Demand “No More Band-Aids”
WHEN: Wednesday, June 9, 2021, 11:00 AM (Speaking program will begin at 11:15 AM)
WHERE: Steps of the Massachusetts State House
WHAT: This Wednesday, June 9, 2021, public health leaders, elected officials, and local public health professionals will gather on the State House steps for an in-person rally, calling for the transformation of the Commonwealth’s inefficient and inequitable local public health system. The Coalition will announce its proposal to allocate a generational investment of federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to create a 21st-century local public health system for Massachusetts.
WHO: Speakers will include:
• State Representative Denise Garlick
• State Senator Jason Lewis
• Craig Andrade, Assoc. Dean for Practice, BUSPH & Brockton Board of Health Member
• Cheryl Sbarra, Executive Director, Massachusetts Association of Health Boards
• Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director, Massachusetts Public Health Association
• Damōn Chaplin, Director, City of New Bedford, Department of Public Health
• Ruth Mori, President, Massachusetts Association of Public Health Nurses
WHY: Every Massachusetts resident deserves strong public health protections, regardless of race, income or zip code. Our state’s current local public health system, organized through 351 municipal health departments and boards of health, is both inefficient and inequitable. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role of local public health and revealed the inadequacies of the current system. The Coalition for Local Public Health and the Massachusetts Public Health Association are calling for a generational investment of federal funds over five years to build local public health infrastructure, upgrade data systems, and support workforce development.
News Release 6/3/21: Martha Vélez of Lawrence Chosen to Receive Community Leadership Award
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) announced that it will present its Community Leadership Award to Martha Vélez of Lawrence for her outstanding service to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic and following the Columbia Gas explosions in 2018. The Community Leadership award is given to an elected or appointed official who has made a major contribution to the health of residents in their community. It will be presented tomorrow at MPHA’s virtual Spring Awards Breakfast.
“Martha Vélez’s career has been dedicated to improving public health in the City of Lawrence,” said MPHA Executive Director Carlene Pavlos. “Her work leading the community through both the COVID-19 pandemic and the Columbia Gas Relief and Recovery Effort has been truly remarkable and provides a wonderful example of public health and community service at its best.”
Martha Vélez is the Director of Human Services for the City of Lawrence, overseeing the Council on Aging, Veterans’ Services Office, Recreation Department, Mayor’s Health Task Force, and the Human Rights Committee.
News Release 5/26/21: Michael Curry Honored with Health Equity Lifetime Achievement Award
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) announced that it will present its highest honor, the Paul Revere Award for Lifetime Achievement, to Michael Curry, Esq. of Brockton, MA. Mr. Curry, who serves as the CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, has been a leader for several decades in the effort to eliminate health inequities in Massachusetts. Leon W Russell, Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors, will present the award to Mr. Curry at MPHA’s virtual Spring Awards Breakfast on June 4. Click here for details and registration information.
“Michael Curry’s lifelong commitment to social justice and health equity have made a tremendous difference in the lives of Massachusetts residents,” said MPHA Executive Director Carlene Pavlos. “From his efforts to pass the Massachusetts Healthcare Reform law in 2006 to his work with the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael has been unwavering in his pursuit of justice and a more equitable society.”
Michael Curry, Esq. is the CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, which represents 52 health centers, serving over 1 million patients at 314 practice sites across Massachusetts. Prior to joining the League, he served as Senior Policy Advisor for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, where he worked on the passage of the 2006 landmark Massachusetts Health Care Reform law, as well as initiatives aimed at ending health inequities.
News Release 5/11/21: As Baker Touts MA’s Vaccine Progress, Racial Disparities in Distribution Persist
BOSTON, MA – The Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition responded today to Governor Charlie Baker’s joint event with President Joe Biden highlighting Massachusetts’ progress on vaccination. The Coalition pointed out that although Massachusetts has made rapid progress on overall rates of vaccination, persistent racial disparities in vaccination remain and illustrate the lack of equity in the rollout process to date. The most recent data shows that while 55 percent of white residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, only 33 percent of Latinx residents, 37 percent of Black residents, and 53 percent of Asian residents have received at least one dose. This is despite the fact that communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID hospitalization.
The coalition of more than 30 racial justice, immigrant justice, public health and civil rights organizations is doubling down on their calls for the Governor to meet with them, emphasizing that closing these racial disparities is essential if Massachusetts truly wants to claim to have a nation-leading vaccine program. Instead, equity has consistently been an afterthought for the Baker administration, as the Governor continues to use hesitancy as a scapegoat for inequities, rather than working in coordination with community organizations and unions to lower the barriers that exist for BIPOC and immigrant communities and workers.
“While Governor Baker is touting Massachusetts’ progress on vaccine distribution, racial disparities have persisted since the beginning of the vaccine program and remain a major concern,” said Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Co-Chairs Dr. Atyia Martin of the Resilient 21 Coalition, Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “For months, our coalition of Black, Latinx and immigrant leaders has requested a meeting with Governor Baker and answers to basic questions about vaccine equity, such as what benchmarks the administration is using to measure its progress on closing these racial disparities. We have still not received so much as a response to our request to meet or any answers to our questions.”
News Release 5/3/21: Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Applauds Shift to Regional and Mobile Vaccine Sites, Calls for More Transparency on Benchmarks
BOSTON, MA – Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Co-Chairs Dr. Atyia Martin of the Resilient 21 Coalition, Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition and Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association issued the following statement in response to Governor Baker’s announcement that Massachusetts will close four mass vaccination sites, shift vaccine allocation to regional collaboratives in the 20 hardest-hit communities and expand mobile vaccination clinics:
“The Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition is deeply appreciative that after months of advocacy from Black and Latinx community leaders, the Baker administration has decided to wind down operations at several mass vaccination sites and bolster community based and mobile vaccination sites, with an emphasis on the 20 hardest hit communities. This is a critical step towards expanding vaccine access by shifting focus away from mass sites that were challenging for some to get to and instead bringing doses directly to where people already are.
“While we recognize the improvements the Baker administration has made in recent weeks and their hard work, we still need to hear more about how they will measure the impact of this shift, particularly when it comes to measuring Massachusetts’ progress on closing the racial gaps in vaccine distribution that have persisted since the beginning of the vaccine program. As of April 29, white residents in Massachusetts have received 14.7 times more doses than Black residents, 10 times more doses than Latinx residents, and 10.8 times more doses than Asian residents. Put another way, 52% of white residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to 34% of Black residents, 48% of Asian residents and 30% of Latinx residents. These statistics mirror the inequities we have seen for months. “Since February, our coalition has asked the Baker administration to set clear benchmarks to ensure that vaccine distribution is mirroring the proportion of hospitalizations experienced by each racial group, but we still have not received an answer. We urge Governor Baker to accept our request for a meeting to discuss these benchmarks and how to remove the barriers that community organizations continue to face on the ground as they try to distribute vaccines.”
News Release 4/13/21: Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Calls on Baker Administration to Ensure Hardest Hit Communities Don’t Lose Doses Due to Johnson & Johnson Pause
BOSTON, MA – In response to the nationwide pause on distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Co-Chairs Dr. Atyia Martin of the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition, Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association issued the following statement:
“While it is disappointing that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is paused out of an abundance of caution, we are grateful for federal health officials’ transparency and believe it is demonstrative of their commitment to earning the public’s trust for all approved vaccines. However, while they study the potential for this extremely rare but serious side effect, it is essential that the Baker administration ensures that the hardest hit communities in Massachusetts are not shortchanged on their vaccine dose allocation. While we know that mass vaccination sites will not be impacted, we are deeply concerned that the programs that are reaching our BIPOC and immigrant communities will be impacted – particularly community health centers, mobile clinics and homebound programs.
“As such, the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition is urging the Baker administration to follow through on their initial commitment to allocate an extra 20% of doses to the 20 hardest hit communities, while factoring in the change to the Johnson & Johnson supply. While these communities represent 35% of the state’s population, they represent 45% of the state’s COVID-19 cases. We cannot lose one day of full capacity vaccine allocation in these communities.” ###
News Release 4/8/21: With Hospitalization Rate Rising, Public Health Leaders Call on Gov. Baker to Limit Indoor Gatherings to Curb Spread of COVID-19
More than 17,000 MA Residents Have Died, Variants on the Rise
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) called on Governor Baker to take action in light of the rising rates of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in the Commonwealth. On March 18, the organization and 28 other members of the Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity sent Governor Charlie Baker an open letter, urging him to maintain indoor capacity limits in order to curb the rising rates of COVID- 19 infection and hospitalization in Massachusetts. They have received no response.
“It has been a little more than a month since Governor Baker increased restaurant capacity to 100% and reopened many other indoor venues,” said MPHA Executive Director Carlene Pavlos. “Since then, we have seen a steady increase in the infection rate in Massachusetts. Now, we are seeing the next predictable outcome – an increase in the rate of hospitalizations.”
Between March 1 and April 1, daily COVID cases increased from an average of 1,446 to 2,014, an increase of almost 40 percent. Yesterday, there were 2,292 new confirmed cases.
The hospitalization rate declined in the first few weeks of March. On March 22, it reached the lowest point of the month, when the seven day average of people hospitalized in Massachusetts was 599.4. Since then, it has risen steadily. On April 6, the seven day average of people hospitalized in Massachusetts was 713, an increase of nearly 20 percent. Yesterday, there were 755 people hospitalized for COVID-19.
“Yesterday, Massachusetts passed a tragic milestone, with more than 17,000 residents dead from COVID-19. Due to premature reopening policies, our residents must brace for yet more,” continued Pavlos. “Things are not back to normal, and we urge the Governor to once again implement public health measures that reflect that reality.”
Governor Baker’s decision to lift many indoor restrictions in Massachusetts has coincided with the arrival and spread of more infectious variants of COVID-19, including the B.1.17 variant (first identified in the United Kingdom), the B.1.351 variant (first identified in South Africa) and the P.1 variant (first identified in Brazil). B.1.17 is now the most common variant in Massachusetts, and it is approximately 70 percent more transmissible and 60 percent more deadly.
News Release 3/31/21: Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Calls on Governor Baker to Allocate 20% of Johnson & Johnson Doses to Hardest Hit Communities
BOSTON, MA – Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Co-Chairs Dr. Atyia Martin of the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition, Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association today issued the following statement in response to Governor Baker’s announcement that Massachusetts will be receiving an additional 100,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the next week.
“The additional supply of 100,000 Johnson & Johnson doses is a major, positive development for Massachusetts’ vaccine rollout that will help increase access to these lifesaving shots. However, we urge the Governor to center equity in his allocation of the doses. Governor Baker should use this as an opportunity to follow through on his previous commitments and allocate at least 20% of these doses to Massachusetts’ hardest hit communities. Since the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one shot, these doses will be particularly impactful for people in our communities who have limited mobility or are homebound – particularly BIPOC and immigrant residents that have been vaccinated at lower rates than white residents.
News Release 3/29/21: With Infection Rate Rising, Coalition Calls on Gov. Baker to Return to Earlier Phase of Reopening
BOSTON, MA – Eleven days ago, 29 members of the Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity, including the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA), issued an open letter to Governor Baker, urging him to delay increasing indoor capacity limits as part of his reopening plan. Now, infection rates are rising across the state, the number of high risk “red” communities is steadily increasing, and Massachusetts is making national headlines for its resurgence.
“The Governor must act to reduce indoor capacity limits on restaurants, exhibition and convention halls, theaters, museums and other indoor venues,” said MPHA Executive Director Carlene Pavlos. “Action must be swift if we are to prevent another wave of infections – and the hospitalizations and deaths that will follow.”
“Governor Baker has said repeatedly that he is following the science, yet he is now disregarding the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC, which strongly recommends that states keep mitigation measures in place until a greater share of the population is vaccinated,” continued Pavlos. “If the Governor asserts that he is listening to public health experts, he should be transparent and name his advisors. The people being put at risk by his actions deserve to know whose guidance is driving these decisions.”
The lifting of many indoor restrictions in Massachusetts comes at the same time that more infectious variants of COVID-19, including the B.1.17 variant (first identified in the United Kingdom) and the B.1.351 variant (first identified in South Africa) are spreading across the state. The challenge created by these variants has recently caused several European countries to resort to lockdowns once again.
News Release 3/23/21: Racial Justice, Immigrant Justice, Civil Rights and Public Health Organizations Request Urgent Meeting with Gov. Baker on Vaccine Equity
BOSTON, MA – Today, 32 racial justice, immigrant justice, civil rights and public health organizations that make up the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition sent a letter to Governor Baker requesting an urgent meeting on vaccine equity in Massachusetts. The letter comes more than a month after the Coalition first issued a set of five demands to the Governor to ensure an equitable vaccine rollout. The Coalition would like to discuss the Governor’s progress on meeting their goals and ways to address the significant inequities in the state’s vaccine distribution plan, particularly for Black, Latinx, Asian and immigrant residents.
“It’s been more than a month since Black, Latinx, Asian and immigrant leaders of the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition issued five demands to Governor Baker to ensure an equitable vaccine rollout in Massachusetts,” said Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Co-Chairs Dr. Atyia Martin of the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition, Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association.
“While we appreciate the progress that the Governor has made, particularly the additional investments in his Vaccine Equity Initiative, our Coalition still has outstanding questions and concerns. The fact of the matter is that despite the Governor’s rhetoric and efforts, vaccine access in Massachusetts remains deeply inequitable along racial lines, particularly in the communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. We cannot wait another day for answers from the Baker administration, as people continue to lose their lives each and every day. We urge Governor Baker to meet with the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition immediately to strategize on how we can close these gaps.”
News Release 3/22/21: Ahead of COVID-19 Oversight Hearing, Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Calls for Answers from Governor Baker
BOSTON, MA – One day before Governor Charlie Baker and members of his administration will appear before a joint oversight hearing on COVID-19 vaccination distribution, the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition is calling for answers to key questions about equity. The coalition of Black, Latinx and immigrant leaders has been encouraged by new investments in the state’s Vaccine Equity Initiative, but emphasizes that more information is needed about how the administration will work with community organizations to close persistent racial gaps in the state’s vaccine rollout.
“Governor Baker recently demonstrated that he is listening to the concerns of our coalition of Black, Latinx and immigrant leaders when he announced an additional $27.4 million in federal funding for his administration’s Vaccine Equity Initiative,” said Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Co-Chairs Dr. Atyia Martin of the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition, Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “While this is great progress, there are still questions that need to be answered to ensure that the necessary doses and resources are making their way to the communities that have been most impacted by COVID-19 and the trusted organizations that serve those communities. We look forward to hearing more from Governor Baker and members of his administration at tomorrow’s oversight hearing about the progress they have made and the plans they have in place to meet the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition’s five demands.”
News Release 3/18/21: Coalition Calls on Gov. Baker to Delay Lifting Indoor Restrictions, Urges Administration to Heed Advice of CDC, Public Health Experts
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) and members of the Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity issued an open letter to Governor Baker, urging him to delay increasing indoor capacity limits by moving to Step 1 of Phase IV of his Reopening Plan.
“We urge Governor Baker to heed the warnings of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the Centers for Disease Control, and local public health experts, who have cautioned that lifting COVID-19 mitigation measures now could lead to a fourth wave of infections and deaths,” said MPHA Executive Director Carlene Pavlos.
“Moving to the next stage of reopening before sufficient numbers of people have been vaccinated is both premature and reckless,” continued Pavlos. “We implore the Governor to be patient and to prevent more avoidable illness and loss of life by delaying any changes related to indoor venues for a minimum of four weeks.”
Step 1 of Phase IV includes an increase in the gathering limits for indoor venues to 100 people, opening of dance floors at indoor events, opening of overnight camps, and opening of exhibition and convention halls, among other measures.
News Release 3/17/21: Statement from Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition to Gov. Baker: Equity is in the Details
BOSTON, MA– Co-Chairs of the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition – Dr. Atyia Martin of the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition, Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association – today released the following statement today in response to Governor Baker’s announcement of additional funding for the Vaccine Equity Initiative.
“The Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition appreciates that Governor Baker is taking steps toward addressing the persistent racial inequities in Massachusetts’ COVID-19 vaccine rollout and that he is listening to our coalition of Black, Latinx and immigrant leaders across the Commonwealth who have organized and demanded change. We hope this signals the administration’s willingness to begin a productive dialogue with community leaders about vaccine equity.”
“That said, equity will be found in the details. One month ago, the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition demanded that Governor Baker allocate $10 million for community-based organizations and engage them directly in the implementation of the rollout. It is unclear what part, if any, of the administration’s newly-announced investments will be used for this purpose. We need assurance that the 20% additional allocation of doses promised in the administration’s original plan is now available to the hardest hit communities – something that we did not hear in this announcement. We also want to hear that the administration has set benchmarks to track their own progress and hold themselves accountable to close these gaps.”
News Release 3/11/21: Statement from Vaccine Equity Now! Co-Chairs in Response to Governor Baker’s Press Conference
BOSTON, MA – Dr. Atyia Martin of the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition, Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association released the following statement today:
“We were pleased to hear today from Governor Baker and CIC Health about efforts to provide vaccination access for residents who live in the vicinity of the Reggie Lewis Center vaccination site in Roxbury. We appreciate the efforts of all partners involved. But state data makes one thing clear: the Baker Administration is simply not getting the job done.
“The most recent state data shows that White residents have received 15 times the number of vaccine doses as Latinx residents and 13 times more than Black residents – after a year in which Latinx and Black residents have suffered and died at rates far higher than White residents. These numbers have not budged in the last three weeks. Given these numbers, our state’s strategy must change, and it must change now.
News Release 3/10/21: New Report Provides Recommendations for Advancing Regional Transit Across Massachusetts
BOSTON, MA – A new report released today outlines the challenges facing regional public transit riders all across Massachusetts, and recommends specific actions for the State Legislature and Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) to ensure that public transportation helps the Bay State recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This timely report, Increasing Regional Transit Accessibility Across the Commonwealth, was published by MASSPIRG Education Fund, Transportation For Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Public Health Association, and Conservation Law Foundation, and is available to download here.
“A disproportionate number of low income residents, older adults and residents with disabilities rely on RTAs to access basic needs,” said Alexis Walls, Assistant Campaign Director for Massachusetts Public Health Association and co-chair of the RTA Advocates coalition. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, RTAs have been crucial to preserving the health and wealth of over 250 cities and towns outside of the MBTA service area. The state can no longer ignore the role RTAs play in advancing regional equity. An investment in RTAs is an investment in the future of transportation.”
News Release 2/25/21: Public Health Experts Welcome COVID-19 Vaccine Oversight Hearings
Boston, MA – Today the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) issued a statement praising the Legislature for calling oversight hearings to investigate the Baker Administration’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. MPHA has repeatedly expressed disappointment regarding the Administration’s lack of engagement with leaders in the communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
“The COVID vaccines are an incredibly valuable tool in the fight against this disease,” said MPHA Executive Director Carlene Pavlos. “But to bring an end to this pandemic, we must ensure that those communities with the highest rates of infection and death have real access to the vaccines.”
“Black and Latinx communities have borne a disproportionate burden of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths,” continued Pavlos. “Yet, we are seeing that they have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the state. There must be both accountability and change, and we applaud the Legislature for calling oversight hearings to investigate this and other issues related to the vaccine rollout.”
News Release 2/17/21: Coalition Calls on Governor Baker to Take Five Immediate Actions to Address Racial Inequities in COVID-19 Vaccinations
Today, the newly-formed “Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition” issued a set of five demands to Governor Baker to address the serious racial inequities plaguing the state’s vaccine rollout. The coalition, comprised of 11 civil rights, immigrant justice, and public health organizations, raised the alarm as vaccination rates for White residents are far outpacing those for Black and Latinx residents that have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated the already deep structural inequities in our country, resulting in a disproportionate impact on communities of color and immigrant communities. These disparities underscore why our vaccine rollout must be centered on those who have been most impacted by this crisis,” said Eva Millona, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “Our coalition has come together to urge our governor to act with the urgency and on the scale that this crisis demands to embrace a more equitable vaccine rollout plan – one that includes input from Black, brown, and immigrant leaders. We look forward to working with Governor Baker to turn these recommendations into reality.”
State data show that Black and Latinx residents have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. But now with vaccines finally available, White residents have received the vast majority of the state’s vaccine doses. As of last week, White residents had received 12 times more doses than Black residents and 16 times more doses than Latinx residents.
The coalition today called on the Governor to:
- Direct $10 million to trusted community organizations for outreach and engagement in communities of color.
- Immediately implement the promised 20% additional doses for the most impacted communities.
- Set clear goals and track vaccine benchmarks that mirror the disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx residents.
- Improve language access and cultural competence across all aspects of vaccine outreach and administration.
- Appoint a vaccine czar with authority and accountability to address vaccine inequities.
2/17/21 Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Press Conference Recording
Five Demands for Governor Baker: English | Spanish | Vietnamese
Demand Vaccine Equity Now! Sign-on Petition
Media Advisory 2/16/21: Civil Rights, Immigrant Justice, and Public Health Leaders to Launch “Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition,” Issue Demands to Governor Baker
WHEN and WHERE:
Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 1:30 PM, Online
Via Zoom: https://tinyurl.com/VaccineEquityNow
This Tuesday 2/17/21, a coalition of civil rights and immigrant justice leaders, together with elected officials and public health experts, will launch the “Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition.” The coalition will call attention to the dramatic racial inequities in the vaccine rollout and will issue five demands to Governor Charlie Baker to immediately address these inequities.
Speakers will include:
- Eva Millona, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, event co-chair
- Dr. Atyia Martin, Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition, event co-chair
- Carlene Pavlos, Massachusetts Public Health Association, event co-chair
- Helena DaSilva-Hughes, Immigrants Assistance Center
- Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Lawyers for Civil Rights
- State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz
- State Representative Liz Miranda
Public Comment Issued on Social Media 2/10/21: MPHA Demands Governor Baker Implement Policies to Address Devastating Inequities in the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) issued the following statement on social media, in response to the announcement by Governor Charlie Baker that, as of tomorrow, caregivers of residents over 75 will be eligible to receive a vaccine for COVID-19.
“Governor Baker’s announcement today that caregivers of residents 75+ will be eligible for a vaccine promises to speed up vaccine distribution in MA, but as a standalone policy, it also promises to exacerbate devastating racial inequities in the roll out. As the Boston Globe reported today, White residents have received 14x as many doses as Black residents and 11x as many as Latinx residents.”
“Simply put, this is an outrage, and it must be the Governor’s top priority to remedy this. The fact that we heard nothing about this from the Governor today is a serious failure of leadership. The Governor should immediately announce companion policies, including funding for outreach and engagement in communities of color, immediate implementation of the 20% additional allocation promised to the most impacted communities, and improved access for non-English speakers, among others. MA can and must solve this problem, and we need Charlie Baker to lead.”
News Release 2/4/21: Public Health Group Applauds Vaccine Equity Bill
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) issued a statement of support for An Act Effectuating Equity in COVID-19 Vaccination (SD699/HD1283), which was filed today by State Senators Becca Rausch and Sonia Chang-Diaz and State Representatives Liz Miranda and Mindy Domb.
The Act will require Governor Baker to appoint a full-time Director of COVID-19 Vaccination Equity and Outreach, who will plan and implement actions to overcome inequities in COVID-19 vaccination rates, which are rooted in historic and current racism; biases based on ethnicity, income, primary language, immigration status, or disability; and other limitations, such as access to transportation and/or the Internet.
The Act will also get vaccination information & support directly to people in the hardest-hit communities through partnerships with local organizations, create a mobile vaccination program designated to reach communities with the highest rates of COVID-19, and increase transparency and accountability of the state’s vaccine efforts.
“This Act includes crucial actions for achieving equity in vaccination rates,” said MPHA Executive Director Carlene Pavlos. “We have safe and effective vaccines — now we must make certain that those who are most impacted by structural racism, poverty and xenophobia have equitable access.”
“A focus on equity benefits everyone,” continued Pavlos. “We will only succeed in controlling this virus by directing resources to communities with the highest rates of infection and death. We must work diligently and in partnership with trusted local leaders to ensure that residents have the opportunity to be vaccinated quickly.”
News Release 1/28/21: Greater Focus on Equity Needed for State to Contain Virus
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) issued a statement calling on the Baker Administration to take the necessary steps to assure equity in the rollout of its vaccination plan. MPHA expressed disappointment regarding the Baker Administration’s lack of engagement with communities hardest hit by the pandemic – especially low-income communities of color.
“Like so many others, we are excited and hopeful to have safe and effective vaccines against the coronavirus,” said MPHA Executive Director Carlene Pavlos. “Our challenge now is to make them widely available, as quickly as possible, and to prioritize those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic, especially residents in low-income communities of color.”
“We will not be successful in containing this virus without supporting the communities with the highest rates of infection and death,” continued Pavlos. “When we focus on equity and bring resources to those who are most impacted, everyone benefits.”
News Release 12/21/20: Doctors, State Legislators, Community & Labor Leaders Press Baker Administration to Increase COVID-19 Protections Amidst Rise in Cases
Boston, MA – Nearly 20 organizations and over 200 physicians, state legislators, community and public health leaders have signed an open letter to Governor Baker and Massachusetts Legislators, demanding a comprehensive response to the current surge of COVID-19 that includes implementation of new stringent public health protections, to help Massachusetts residents comply with public health directives. The group will issue the letter publicly at a virtual press conference on Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 11 A.M via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85496123190?pwd=bGNaMi9NN3p4T3l0Ym5NLzFmRmhzdz09
More than half of Massachusetts’ cities and towns are in the high-risk zone and COVID-19 case numbers are 70% higher than their peak last April. Even as new science shows that indoor dining is unsafe, Governor Baker refuses to take the substantive steps needed to curb infection rates, despite repeated warnings of the Center for Disease Control, public health experts, and elected officials.
“Every day I tell patients to stay home when they are sick, but they can’t if they can’t put food on the table and don’t have emergency sick leave.” said Dr. Mansa Semenya, a family physician practicing in Boston and member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity (MCHE), which sponsored the letter. “Baker and our state legislators need to pass legislation that allows working people to protect themselves. That is the only way to slow the spread of COVID19 and protect the public health.”
While many set hopes on the COVID-19 vaccine to return to normalcy, the letter signatories warn that control of the COVID-19 infection rates and increased testing remain essential to ending the pandemic. Meanwhile, ten months into the pandemic, availability and accessibility of testing is insufficient, workplace protections are lacking, 100,000 households face risk of eviction, and local public health departments are egregiously underfunded.
Public Comment Issued on Social Media 12/14/20: MPHA Applauds Local Officials for Implementing Additional Measures to Contain the Surge in COVID-19
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) issued the following statement on social media, in response to the announcement by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and other municipal officials that they would be implementing additional public health restrictions designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.
“MPHA applauds Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and other municipal leaders for taking action today to reduce the spread of #COVID19. While we are surprised that indoor dining will remain open, despite the clear evidence of risk, these actions nevertheless will protect health and save lives. What is needed now is more serious action from Governor Charlie Baker. People patronize businesses in multiple communities – we simply can’t use a town by town strategy to contain this virus.
Together with stronger state action, we desperately need a relief package from Congress to support workers and small businesses.
Lives are at stake and leadership matters. We are waiting…”
Public Comment Issued on Social Media 12/8/20: Additional Actions Urgently Needed to Contain the Surge in COVID-19 Cases in Massachusetts
In response to the Baker Administration’s press conference on Tuesday, December 8, MPHA issued the following statement on Twitter and other Social Media platforms.
“Glad Gov. Charlie Baker recognizes that additional actions are needed to contain the surge in #COVID19 cases across #MA. But we’re in the eye of the storm—infection rates are much higher now than they were in earlier reopening phases—to remain in Phase 3, step 1 strains logic.”
Attached to this statement were six responses to Gov. Baker’s specific proposals.
- Reducing capacity in public spaces is critical, but it’s not clear how moving from 50% to 40% capacity will address the problem. What is the science behind this?
- National data has revealed indoor dining to be a high-risk activity. It should be stopped now, so that more restrictive measures aren’t necessary later. Movie theaters, gyms and arcades are among other venues that should also be temporarily closed.
- For workplaces that remain open, we should increase resources for local boards of health to help businesses comply and enforce state guidance.
- We can’t afford to see friends and families doubling up or in congregate shelters because they’ve been forced out of their homes. We need to stop evictions and foreclosures now and provide support to renters and small landlords who have fallen behind.
- COVID-19 is tearing through our state’s jails and prisons – yet there is still no plan to decarcerate. What immediate measures are you putting in place to ensure the health and safety of incarcerated individuals?
- We, too, see the coming vaccines as a light at the end of the tunnel. What is your plan to equitably distribute vaccines that addresses the vast injustices in COVID impacts? How will you gain the trust of communities with high rates of vaccine hesitancy?
Click here to view Twitter post
News Advisory 11/5/20: Public Health Experts and Local Officials to Call for Reforms to Fractured and Inconsistent Local Health System at Committee Hearing
WHEN and WHERE:
Friday, November 6, 2020, 11:00am, Online
Stream the live hearing here: https://malegislature.gov/Events/Hearings/Detail/3598
This Friday, public health experts, municipal and regional officials, and healthcare leaders will testify in support of the Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community Act (H.5045/S.2922) at an online hearing held by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health. The proposed bill would:
- create minimum public health standards for every community,
- ensure a qualified workforce,
- incentivize municipalities to share services,
- create a uniform data collection and reporting system, and
- dedicate state funding to support local boards of health and health departments.
News Release 11/2/20: Gov. Baker Misses Opportunity to Contain COVID-19 Spike
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) issued the following statement in response to Gov. Baker’s announcement of new public health measures designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.
“We appreciate that Governor Baker recognizes that new actions must be taken to contain the surge in COVID cases, but he missed the opportunity to take the kinds of bold actions needed to protect all residents of Massachusetts,” said MPHA Executive Director Carlene Pavlos.
“Each of us must take responsibility to stop the spread, but COVID can’t be stopped by personal responsibility alone. Workers, people who need to double up in apartments because they were evicted, people living in shelters, and people who are incarcerated are just some of the folks suffering the most through no fault of their own.”
To truly protect all Massachusetts residents, Governor Baker should announce these actions this week:
- Release the data that shows social gatherings are the main sources of spread. His own administration’s data on COVID-19 clusters directly contradicts this assertion, showing only 67 cases out of more than 8,000 linked to social gatherings, but more than 1,000 connected to places where people work.
- Make a real commitment to safe workplaces for workers and patrons – including resources for inspections and enforcement to local boards of health and the Department of Labor Standards.
- Create a plan to prevent evictions and homelessness that won’t take months to be available to a fraction of the people that need it. If the Governor wants people to go home at 9:30, they need a stable home to go to.
- Implement a plan for preventing infections in correctional facilities. More testing is a good step, but testing alone is not a prevention strategy.”
News Release 10/13/20: Public Health Advocates Call for Immediate Legislative Action to Avert Public Health Catastrophe
Boston, MA – Today, a coalition of more than 300 public health and health care leaders from across Massachusetts delivered an open letter, calling on Governor Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo to take immediate action to avert a massive wave of evictions that are expected to take place as soon as the state’s eviction moratorium is lifted on Saturday, October 17.
“The moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expires in four days, leaving more than 100,000 Massachusetts households at risk of eviction, housing insecurity, and homelessness,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “Governor Baker’s announcement yesterday of new resources to support tenants was necessary, but his actions are woefully insufficient to address the scale of crisis facing Massachusetts renters.”
Advocates are urging passage of the Guaranteed Housing Stability Bill (H5018/S2918), sponsored by Rep. Mike Connolly, Rep. Kevin Honan, and Sen. Patricia Jehlen. The bill will protect tenants who are unable to pay rent due to the impact of COVID-19, and it will also create a fund to assist property owners who have lost income due to the pandemic (with a focus on working-class, small, owner-occupied, and nonprofit landlords).
“Stable housing is absolutely foundational for health – and even more critical during a pandemic,” said Howard Koh, MD, PhD, Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, former US Assistant Secretary of Health, and former Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. “We are facing an urgent public health deadline, with the state preparing to lift the eviction moratorium this Saturday. We cannot risk seeing more vulnerable people forced onto the street, thereby exacerbating an already unacceptable homelessness crisis. That is why all of our political leaders must collectively act now to keep thousands of families in their homes.”
News Release 9/30/20: Coalition calls for Accelerating Improvements to Local Public Health
Boston, MA – This morning, a coalition of public health, municipal, regional, state, and academic leaders gathered for an online rally, calling on the Legislature to take urgent action to improve the local public health system in Massachusetts. The group is calling for passage of the Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community Act (SAPHE 2.0), which would create minimum public health standards for every community, ensure a qualified workforce, incentivize municipalities to share services, create a uniform data collection and reporting system, and dedicate state funding to support local boards of health and health departments.
“Public health protections must be available to every community in Massachusetts,” said Attorney General Maura Healy. “Local public health departments are on the frontlines of addressing health disparities, and they need funding, data, and consistent standards to get the job done. I want to thank the Massachusetts Public Health Association for their leadership and for these thoughtful proposals.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the deep inequities in our local public health system. We have a moral obligation to our residents to take meaningful action now,” said State Senator Jo Comerford, the Senate sponsor of the bill. “We must do the hard work today, so that we will be ready for whatever comes.”
“Massachusetts is the only state in the nation with a local public health system that is based in hundreds of different municipalities,” said State Representative Hannah Kane, a lead House co-sponsor of the bill. “This legislation will put our state on a path to meet key benchmarks and create an efficient and effective local public health system accessible to all residents.”
“The COVID-19 virus pandemic has illuminated the responsibility and expectations of the actions of local health departments,” said Vice Chair of Ways & Means Representative Denise Garlick, a lead House co-sponsor of the bill. “As a Registered Nurse and former elected member and Chair of the Needham Board of Health, I know it has also shone a light on the need to increase resources for staffing, training, and education. Our Commonwealth and communities are only as healthy as our State and local health departments are strong.”
Media Advisory 9/28/20: Coalition to Call for Public Health Standards for Every Community
WHEN and WHERE: Wednesday, September 30, 2020; 9:00 am via Zoom; Register at tinyurl.com/saphe2coalitionlaunch
WHAT: A coalition of public health, municipal, regional, state and academic leaders will gather for an online rally, calling on the Legislature to take urgent action to improve the local public health system in Massachusetts. The group is calling for passage of the Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community Act (SAPHE 2.0), which would:
- create minimum public health standards for every community,
- ensure a qualified workforce,
- incentivize municipalities to share services,
- create a uniform data collection and reporting system, and
- dedicate state funding to support local boards of health and health departments.
The SAPHE 2.0 Coalition is led by municipal officials and public health experts. Earlier this spring, coalition members successfully advocated for passage of the original SAPHE Act, which created a voluntary grant-based approach to improving the local public health system. The new SAPHE 2.0 Act directs MA DPH to establish minimum standards for local public health departments and boards, sets out a clear timeline for communities to reach those standards, establishes state funding to support communities in reaching benchmarks, and creates a uniform data collection and reporting system.
Speakers will include:
- State Senator Jo Comerford, Senate sponsor of the bill
- State Representative Hannah Kane, lead House co-sponsor of the bill
- State Representative Denise Garlick, lead House co-sponsor of the bill
- Damon Chaplin, Director, Health Department, City of New Bedford
- Kevin Mizikar, Town Manager, Town of Shrewsbury
- Aimee Petrosky, Health Director, Town of East Longmeadow
- Sigalle Reiss, President, MA Health Officers Association; Health Director, Town of Norwood
- Kevin Sweet, Town Administrator, Town of Wrentham
- Kristina Kimani, Assistant Policy Director, Massachusetts Public Health Association
News Release 9/24/20: Public Health Association Calls on Governor Baker to Correct Inaccurate Statements
Claim of Consultation and Endorsement of MPHA Inaccurate
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) called for a correction to a statement made by Governor Charlie Baker at his press conference yesterday. During the press conference, between the 14 minute and 15 minute marks on the video recording, Governor Baker discussed the state’s guidance to communities regarding returning to in-person school. He stated, “This guidance was developed and endorsed by the Massachusetts Academy of Pediatrics and the Massachusetts Public Health Association.” This statement is entirely inaccurate. MPHA was not involved in any way in developing the guidelines, and we have not endorsed them.
“We want to be clear that we had no involvement in the development of those guidelines,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of MPHA. “We have also not endorsed them as they are not sufficiently nuanced or inclusive of health and safety concerns for students, teachers and the community. In fact, since March we have repeatedly asked to meet with Governor Baker or a staff member from the Governor’s office, but we have received no reply.”
News Release 9/18/2020: Dr. Camara Jones Honored with Paul Revere Award for Visionary Leadership and Lifetime Achievement
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) presented the Paul Revere Award for Lifetime Achievement, its highest honor, to Camara Jones, MD, MPH, PhD, for her unwavering commitment to eradicating health inequities and structural racism. The award was presented this morning at MPHA’s virtual Awards Breakfast by David Satcher, MD, PhD, former Surgeon General of the United States and the founder of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute.
“Dr. Camara Jones has been a true trailblazer in the field of public health,” said MPHA Executive Director Carlene Pavlos. “Her work has shaped the national health and public health analysis of structural racism and has challenged the public health community to develop new perspectives and new tools to respond. When we recognize structural racism as a public health crisis, it is in no small part due to her pioneering work. MPHA is thrilled to honor this public health hero who has informed our own commitment to dismantling structural racism.”
“I am delighted to accept this honor from the Massachusetts Public Health Association,” said Dr. Jones. “During this moment, when our country is grappling with a pandemic that has brought racial health inequities into sharp relief, it is more important than ever to expose the forces of structural racism that still shape life in America. Eliminating racism benefits everyone, because racism saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.”
News Release 8/11/2020: Public Health Association Calls on Governor Baker to Take More Aggressive Public Health Measures to Stop Spread of COVID-19
Boston, MA – In advance of today’s announcement from Governor Baker about new measures to contain the rise in cases of COVID-19, Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, released the following statement:
“The recent uptick in COVID-19 infections should cause serious concern for all residents of Massachusetts. We appreciate that Governor Baker has responded with additional actions in the face of the worsening data. But his actions to date fall short of what is needed.
“We call on Governor Baker to act more comprehensively and strategically to address this uptick in cases before a curve turns into spike. With the start of the school year in a few weeks, reducing the case trend now must be the highest priority.
News Release 7/23/20: In Anticipation of Fall Surge, Municipal Leaders Highlight Dangers Posed to All Massachusetts Residents by “Fractured” and “Inconsistent” Local Public Health System
Pledge Partnership with Baker Administration to Accelerate System Improvements
Boston, MA – Today, 65 municipal leaders sent a letter to Governor Baker and senior Administration officials calling for improvements in the Massachusetts local public health system and drawing attention to the danger that is posed to the entire state by our fractured and inconsistent structure.
The signers include mayors, town managers, selectboard members, city councilors, and other officials representing 53 cities and towns across 10 counties. Signers include officials from Monroe, Egremont, Hamilton, Blandford and 18 other communities with populations less than 10,000 residents, together with mayors from 9 of the state’s largest cities, including Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, Somerville, and Framingham with a combined population of more than 1.2 million residents.
“Because viruses do not respect municipal borders, the extreme variability of protections provided across municipal health departments pose a risk and harm to all communities,” the officials wrote.
Read Municipal Official Letter
Read Local Health Leader Letter
News Release 7/22/20: Over 400 Public Health Experts Call for Police Accountability
Boston, MA — More than 400 public health and health care leaders are calling on Massachusetts lawmakers to pass police reform that addresses the public health harms caused by racially disparate police violence and surveillance. In a letter sent to lawmakers and released publicly today, the health professionals urge legislators to eliminate qualified immunity, require police officers to attempt de-escalation, and restrict harmful use of force practices.
“Systemic racism is a lethal public health crisis,” write public health experts in the letter. “The public health and health care community has long recognized the ways in which racism has contributed to the pervasive health inequities and injustices that permeate every aspect of existence for people of color, and have devastated both the physical and mental health of individuals subjected to these abuses on a daily basis.”
According to the letter, new state law must reduce the role of police in situations where social interventions are safer and more effective, and explicitly recognize that police violence poses dangers to public health. The public health experts, for example, support eliminating qualified immunity, a judicial doctrine that shields police from being held accountable to their victims even when excessive use of force results in serious physical harm or death.
“There can be no true health equity without transforming of our system of policing,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “Our current laws do far too little to ensure equal justice for Black and Brown residents and far too much to shield police from accountability – and this is exactly what institutional racism looks like. The status quo must change and it must change now.”
News Release 6/22/2020: Task Force Gives Governor Baker D’s and F’s For Protecting Marginalized Groups During Reopening
Boston, MA – Today, Governor Baker received all D’s and F’s on a report card rating his reopening policies, based on how they prioritize the health of Black and Latinx residents, low wage workers, and others that have been most impacted by COVID-19.
The Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity, a coalition of 94 public health, community, and labor organizations that began meeting in mid-March, released today’s report card to monitor progress on four key criteria that they announced on June 4, 2020.
The report card comes as Massachusetts enters Step 2 of Phase II of reopening, bringing far greater numbers of workers and consumers into contact at indoor dining, offices, and services that require close personal contact. The latest move in Massachusetts comes as 23 states are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“We are eager for a safe reopening for the sake of workers, small businesses, and our overall economy, but Governor Baker’s reopening policies to date have shown a disregard for the health of Black and Latinx residents, low-wage workers, and others who have been hardest hit by COVID-19,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, which coordinates the Task Force. “It’s not too late to change this. We call on the Governor to immediately implement commonsense policies that value the lives of the communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic.”
News Release 6/8/2020: Public Health Association Applauds Signing of “An Act Addressing COVID-19 Data Collection and Disparities in Treatment”
Yesterday, Governor Baker signed “An Act Addressing COVID-19 Data Collection and Disparities in Treatment,” a bill that the Legislature sent to him on May 28th. In response, Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, issued the following statement:
“We are pleased that Governor Baker signed this important and overdue bill into law. Public health experts have long known that social inequities are linked to poor health outcomes. When the coronavirus epidemic began, the Massachusetts Public Health Association was extremely concerned about how the virus would affect already marginalized populations. Addressing this issue has been a primary focus of our Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity.
If effectively implemented, this law will dramatically improve our understanding of how the pandemic is impacting marginalized communities in Massachusetts – including Black and Latinx residents, low-wage workers, people who don’t speak English, and people with disabilities. The bill will also improve transparency by requiring regular reporting from the Baker Administration on actions being taken to address inequities that exist in Massachusetts.
This level of data collection should have happened months ago, but later is better than never. Implementing this law effectively will require a significant improvement in how data is collected and reported in Massachusetts, so we expect to see an announcement in short order about how the Administration will accomplish these goals. We will be closely monitoring progress and providing periodic progress reports.
We stand ready to partner with the Governor to develop a response and recovery strategy that has equity for all residents at the center.”
News Release 6/6/20: Public Health Association Statement on Governor Baker’s Reopening Announcement
BOSTON – In response to Governor Baker’s announcement about Phase Two reopening today, Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association issued the following statement:
“We’re eager to have our businesses reopen as soon as it is safe. We want to see our Main Streets thriving once again, workers receiving wages and benefits, and a strengthening of our battered economy. Together with more than 100 community, labor, and public health organizations, we have laid out clear criteria that must be met to proceed with an equitable reopening that truly values the lives of people from communities that have already suffered the most during the pandemic. Today, Governor Baker chose to ignore these basic standards and instead to put Massachusetts residents at increased risk of illness and death – with little in the way of data to track impact on Black and Latinx residents, no meaningful protections for low-wage workers, testing that falls dramatically short of the Governor’s own goals, and – adding insult to injury – no seat at the table for the very communities that stand to be most impacted. The Governor claims to always “follow the data” and to “listen to the experts,” but today he did exactly the opposite. For these reasons, we strongly oppose the Governor’s decision today.”
The full Criteria for an Equitable Reopening, including a list of endorsing organizations is available here: https://tinyurl.com/EquitableReopeningCriteria.##
News Release 6/4/20: Public Health & Community Leaders Demand that Governor Baker Not Allow a Reopening at the Expense of Black and Latinx Communities
Coalition announces four criteria for a reopening that protects all residents
BOSTON – Today, public health and community leaders announced four criteria that must be met before moving to Phase Two of reopening to ensure that low wage workers, communities of color, and other disproportionately-impacted populations are adequately protected. The criteria, backed by a coalition of more than 100 organizations, are:
The full statement, description of the criteria, and a list of endorsing organizations is available here: https://tinyurl.com/EquitableReopeningCriteria.
The announcement came two days before Governor Baker is slated to decide whether to proceed with Phase Two of reopening and amid a national outcry of protest against police brutality and structural racism.
“Good jobs that provide benefits and a living wage are important contributors to health. We want to see a strong and vibrant economy,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “But we will not accept a reopening that happens at the expense of low wage workers and people of color. Across this state people are demanding change. The administration can and must choose to change its plans for reopening to place equity at the center of those plans. These criteria will provide a framework for such an equitable reopening.”
“Although Black people have borne the disproportionate burden of the cases and deaths from COVID-19 in Boston, the problems with the COVID-19 response are not “Black” problems, but problems with our systems, structures, policies, programs, and decision-making processes that impact all of us,” said Dr. Atyia Martin, member of the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition. “The Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition (BBCC) is demanding a return on our investment in the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the use of best practices for responding to a pandemic.”
Media Advisory 6/3/20: Four Criteria for an Equitable Reopening to Be Announced Thursday by Public Health and Community Leaders
Advocates to call on Governor Baker not to allow a reopening at the expense of Black and Latinx communities
WHAT: Public health and community leaders will release four criteria that must be met before moving to Phase Two of reopening to ensure that low wage workers, communities of color, and other disproportionately-impacted populations are adequately protected.
WHEN and WHERE: Thursday, June 4th, 9:00am Zoom registration: https://tinyurl.com/EquitableReopening
WHO: The Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity, joined by dozens of supporting organizations, including the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition, Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity, Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, Massachusetts Senior Action Council, Massachusetts Councils on Aging, Community Labor United, National Association of Social Workers – Massachusetts Chapter, and the ACLU of Massachusetts, among many others.
Confirmed speakers include:
- Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director, Massachusetts Public Health Association
- Dr. Atiya Martin, Member, Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition
- Roxana Rivera, Vice President, SEIU 32BJ New England District 615
- Oami Amarasingham, Deputy Legislative Director, ACLU of Massachusetts
- Al Vega, Director of Policy & Programs, Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
- Helena DaSilva Hughes, Executive Director, Immigrant’s Assistance Center
- Roxana Rivera, Vice President, SEIU 32BJ New England District 615
Media Advisory 6/1/20: Equity Task Force to Release Criteria for an Equitable Reopening Thursday 6/4
As outrage over police brutality grows, public health leaders call on Governor Baker not to allow a reopening at the expense of Black and Latinx communities
WHEN and WHERE: Thursday, June 4th at 9:00am via Zoom Register at https://tinyurl.com/EquitableReopening
WHO: The Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity, a coalition of 90 organizations with the purpose of combatting the way that COVID-19 is exacerbating health and economic inequities driven by racism, poverty, and xenophobia.
WHAT: The Task Force will release a detailed list of criteria that must be met before moving to Phase Two of reopening to ensure that low wage workers, Black and Latinx communities, and other disproportionately impacted populations are adequately protected.
News Release 5/28/20: Public Health Association Applauds Passage of Bill to Improve COVID-19 Data Reporting, Calls for Action to Address Inequities
BOSTON – In response to final passage of “An Act Addressing COVID-19 Data Collection and Disparities in Treatment” by the House and Senate today, Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association issued the following statement:
“We’re pleased with the very strong bill that was finalized by the House and Senate today, which provides for better data and increased legislative oversight to ensure Massachusetts is aggressively working to counter the inequitable impact of the pandemic on Massachusetts residents. Equally important to data reporting, the bill requires greater transparency from the Baker Administration about what actions they are taking to address the inequities shown in the data. Knowledge is crucial, but it’s only valuable if it leads to smart action. As Massachusetts considers additional stages of reopening, we must use data to ensure that communities of color, low wage workers, and other marginalized populations do not suffer further than they have already.”
News Release 5/12/20: Coalition Releases 10 Point Emergency Plan for Prisons & Jails
Calls for Decarceration to Reduce Spread of Coronavirus Infections
Boston, MA – Today, a coalition of 22 community groups held a press conference to release a 10 Point Emergency Plan for addressing the rapid spread of COVID-19 infections in Massachusetts prisons and jails. Top recommendations include accelerating the release of those who have reached or are within six-months of reaching their parole eligibility date and granting medical paroles to those who are eligible.
“Compassion needs to be the North Star by which we navigate the crisis. Just as in the HIV epidemic, lives will be lost because of governmental inaction toward a politically unpopular group,” said Michael Cox, Director of Policy for Black and Pink, Boston (formerly incarcerated).
Massachusetts prisons have one of the highest rates of COVID-19 infection in the country.
Media Advisory 5/11/20: Coalition to Release 10 Point Emergency Plan for Prisons & Jails
Press Conference to Call for Decarceration to Reduce Spread of Coronavirus Infections
WHAT: A coalition of more than 20 Massachusetts organizations will hold a press conference tomorrow to present concrete, urgent steps that Governor Baker must take to end the spread of the COVID-19 in the Commonwealth’s prisons and houses of correction. The 10-point plan for decarceration aims to support the safety and health of incarcerated people, Correction Officers and their families, and the broader community.
WHEN: Tuesday, May 12, 2020 10:00 EST
REGISTER AT: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Hhm0_44OR_OfsC-Pkb4cyA
News Release 5/5/20: Public Health Leaders Call for Swift Decarceration in Face of Pandemic
Boston, MA – Today, public health leaders called for passage of legislation to safely decarcerate as many people as possible to limit the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and interrupt the staggering racial inequities evident in state data on COVID-19 cases.
In testimony to the legislature’s Joint Committee on Judiciary, the Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity asked the committee to take swift action in support of House Bill 4562, sponsored by Representative Lindsay Sabodosa.
“The people in prisons and jails are important members of our communities, they are our husbands, wives, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, and neighbors,” wrote Sandro Galea, Cheryl Barlett, and Carlene Pavlos on behalf of the Task Force. “Simply because they have been arrested or convicted for a crime does not justify sentencing them to sickness and potentially death from COVID-19.”
News Release 4/29/20: Public Health Association Applauds the Signing of the State Action for Public Heath Excellence (SAPHE) Act
Boston, MA – Today, Governor Baker signed H4503, An Act Relative to Strengthening the Local and Regional Public Health System. In response, Kristina Kimani, Coalition and Advocacy Manager for the Massachusetts Public Health Association, issued the following statement:
“We’re so pleased that Governor Baker signed the SAPHE Act today. In the midst of this emergency, it’s become ever-more clear how essential it is that we have an effective, efficient, and equitable local public health system.”
News Release 4/17/20: Statewide Task Force Calls on Governor Baker to Fill Gaps in State Data Collection, Develop Clear Action Plan to Address Health Inequities
Boston, MA – Today, the Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity issued an open letter to Governor Baker and Secretary Sudders, signed by 59 organizations, calling on them to take decisive action to address inequities in the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on communities of color and other marginalized populations.
“We respect the immense challenges faced by Governor Baker right now,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, which coordinates the Task Force. “But his Administration must act with more urgency to understand the equity impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic in Massachusetts and – more importantly – to take bold action to support those communities that are most impacted.”
In the letter, the Task Force praised the Baker Administration’s recent decision to make more data publicly available, including data on the race and ethnicity of confirmed cases and deaths, as well as case counts by municipality. They called on the Administration to continue to improve the quality of data being released, and more importantly, to develop a clear plan for responding to the inequities being revealed.
News Release 4/7/20: Massachusetts in the Dark on Demographic Impact of Outbreak, Say Public Health and Civil Rights Leaders
As Evidence of Inequities Pile Up, Groups Call on Baker Administration to Take Swift Action
Boston, MA – Today, public health and civil rights organizations called on the Baker Administration to move quickly to collect and release demographic data about COVID-19 testing, confirmed cases, and deaths, including race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, language, disability, age, and county of residence.
The groups pointed to data being released in other parts of the country such as Michigan, Florida, Louisiana, Milwaukee, Chicago, and the District of Columbia. The data collected and released so far strongly suggest that the pandemic is disproportionately impacting Black and Latinx residents. Boston has begun releasing data which suggests that infection rates are higher in neighborhoods with a large proportion of the city’s residents of color and low-income residents.
“As a state, Massachusetts is stumbling in the dark right now. Without good data on who is being most impacted, our response will be both ineffective and irresponsible, and it will predictably serve to deepen the inequities that existed across Massachusetts before this outbreak,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “Collecting this data is crucial to inform us about who is getting sick and who is dying, so that we can develop effective prevention strategies and deploy limited health resources in ways that will save the most lives.”
News Release 3/20/20: Emergency Task Force Calls for Immediate Action to Address Equity in the Face of Epidemic
Boston, MA – This morning, more than 100 leading public health, grassroots, civil rights, medical, labor, and social service organizations issued a call to action to state leaders to take urgent action to address the impact of the epidemic on low wage workers, immigrants, people at risk of losing their homes, and people experiencing homelessness.
“This outbreak is not affecting Massachusetts residents equally,” said Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “The impact of this virus is both exposing and worsening deep inequities rooted in racism, poverty, and xenophobia. We need Governor Baker, Attorney General Healey, and the Legislature to take action immediately in the face of this public health emergency.” The Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity, convened by the Massachusetts Public Health Association on March 17, is calling on state leaders to immediately act on four urgent policy priorities.
Media Advisory 3/19/20: Emergency Task Force to Call for Immediate Action from Governor Baker, Attorney General Healey, and Legislature to Address Equity in the Face of Epidemic
WHEN and WHERE: Friday, March 20, 2020 at 9:00am via Zoom
Register at https://tinyurl.com/COVID19-Equity-PressConf
WHAT: The Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity will call for urgent action from Governor Baker, Attorney General Healey, and the Legislature on four state policy priorities to address the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus outbreak on communities already experiencing marginalization, including low-wage workers, immigrants, and people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.
The Task Force, convened by the Massachusetts Public Health Association on March 17, is calling on Governor Baker, Attorney General Healey & the Legislature to:
Immigrants Have Safe Access to Testing & Treatment
Everyone Has Access to Safe Quarantine
Emergency Paid Sick Time
- Enact a
Moratorium on Evictions, Foreclosures & Termination of Public Benefits
To date, 86 organizations have endorsed the call to action, including leading civil rights, grassroots, public health, medical, labor, and social service organizations.
News Release 3/10/20: Public Health Association to Convene Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity
The Massachusetts Public Health
Association (MPHA) announced today that it is convening an Emergency Task
Force on Coronavirus & Equity to rapidly develop policy recommendations
to ensure adequate prevention and response measures for communities that will
be disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and its economic repercussions –
including low income people, people of color, immigrants, low wage workers,
those who are food insecure, people experiencing homelessness, people with
disabilities, and older adults, among others.
The Task Force will be chaired by Sandro
Galea, Dean of the Boston University School of Public Health and Cheryl
Bartlett, CEO of the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center and former
commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Preliminary recommendations will
be released on Friday, March 20th at 9am in Room 222 at the State
The Emergency Task Force is being
formed in recognition of the inequities likely to be experienced by these
populations, and with an understanding that this represents a public health
preparedness issue for the entire population.
“From the family in shelter – to the
child who depends on getting a healthy breakfast and lunch at school – to
immigrants fearful of coming forward because of draconian federal policies – we
are only as prepared as our most marginalized communities,” said MPHA
Executive Director Carlene Pavlos. “It is vital that we develop concrete
solutions to protect Massachusetts residents who are already burdened with the
effects of discrimination, oppression, and poor health. The fate of everyone in
our society is bound together – something which is always true but is seldom as
crystal clear as it is now.”
Task Force members include
organizations that represent low-wage workers, immigrants, older adults,
emergency food service providers, homelessness service providers, disability
advocacy organizations, local health departments, and health care
organizations. Policy recommendations will be focused on concrete actions that
can be taken by the state legislature, Governor Baker and state Executive
*Postponed* Legislative Breakfast on Public Transportation and the Needs of Older Adults – New Date to be Determined
Out of an abundance of caution, we are POSTPONING the legislative breakfast that was planned for Friday, March 13, 2020, in Leominster.
If you would like us to notify you when we have set a new dates, please email: Veronica at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 857-930-4369
Media Advisory: Legislative Breakfast on Public Transportation and the Needs of Older Adults – March 13, 2020
Leominster, MA – On March 13, 2020, community leaders, elected officials, transportation advocates, program managers, public transportation users, and community members will come together for a Legislative Breakfast on transportation and the needs of older adults/seniors. This event will be held from 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM at the Veterans’ Center, 100 West Street. It is free and open to the public. To RSVP, call 857-930-4369 or click https://tinyurl.com/NorthCentralTranspoMar13.
News Release 11/20/19: MPHA Presents Legislative Leadership Awards to Representatives Garlick and Kane
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Public
Health Association (MPHA) presented Representative Denise Garlick and Representative
Hannah Kane with Legislative Leadership Awards in recognition of their commitment
to building an effective, efficient, and equitable local public health system.
In presenting the awards, MPHA Executive
Director Carlene Pavlos cited Representative Garlick’s work to advance knowledge,
develop recommendations, and champion legislative action to strengthen the
Commonwealth’s municipal public health system. She also praised Representative
Kane’s work to advance knowledge, develop recommendations, and champion
legislative action to strengthen the Commonwealth’s municipal public health
News Release 10/29/19: 40 Public Health, Civil Rights Organizations and Leaders Urge Attorney General To Sue Lead Paint Companies
Boston, MA – Forty prominent public health, civil rights, and community-based organizations and leaders issued an open letter today to Attorney General Maura Healey urging her to file a lawsuit against lead paint companies to hold them accountable for deceptive marketing campaigns that have caused catastrophic harm to children in the Commonwealth.
Led by Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) and the Massachusetts Public Health Association, the coalition urges Attorney General Healey to follow the recent example set in California, where ten cities and counties successfully sued lead paint manufacturers, resulting in a $305 million settlement that will fund the removal of lead paint in those jurisdictions.
Open Letter to Attorney General
Media Advisory 9/24/19: Anti-hunger Advocates and Elected Officials Rally at State House
Boston, MA — Today, advocates and elected officials from across Massachusetts stand strong for the right to food. At a rally on the State House front steps, advocates will oppose the attacks on federal food assistance programs and promote state policies to expand food access. The rally will take place at 12:15-1 p.m. and is hosted by Children’s Health Watch, Food Bank Coalition of Massachusetts, MA Food System Caucus, MA Food System Collaborative, Mass Law Reform Institute, Massachusetts Public Health Association…
News Release 9/17/19: 160+ Civic and Community Leaders Calls for Action on Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund
Boston, MA — Today, more than 160 organizations and civic leaders – including 20 mayors and town managers – sent a letter to legislative leaders urging them to include funding for the Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund in any health care legislation that advances this session.
Between 2014-2018, PWTF funded successful clinical-community partnerships focused on childhood asthma, falls among older adults, hypertension, and tobacco use. An independent evaluation concluded that “PWTF appears to be a very sound investment from…
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