Press Room

Media Contacts:

Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director, (857) 302-7023, cpavlos@mapublichealth.org

Maddie Ribble, Director of Public Policy & Campaign Strategy, 857-930-4191 (o), 617-697-2107 (c), mribble@mapublichealth.org


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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.” 

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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.”

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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:

  1. Direct $10 million to trusted community organizations for outreach and engagement in communities of color.
  2. Immediately implement the promised 20% additional doses for the most impacted communities.
  3. Set clear goals and track vaccine benchmarks that mirror the disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx residents.
  4. Improve language access and cultural competence across all aspects of vaccine outreach and administration.
  5. Appoint a vaccine czar with authority and accountability to address vaccine inequities.

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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

WHAT:

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.

WHO:

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

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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.”

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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.”

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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.  

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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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. For workplaces that remain open, we should increase resources for local boards of health to help businesses comply and enforce state guidance.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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

WHAT:

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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.” 

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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.”

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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.  

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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.

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Read Municipal Official Letter

Read Local Health Leader Letter

Read Legislator 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.” 

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Read Open Letter


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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Decarceration Slide Deck


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 

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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.”

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Task Force Testimony

Decarceration Bill Fact Sheet


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.”

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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.

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Read Open Letter


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.”

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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.

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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:

  • Ensure
    Immigrants Have Safe Access to Testing & Treatment
  • Ensure
    Everyone Has Access to Safe Quarantine
  • Pass
    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.

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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
House
.

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
Branch agencies.


*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 vcanas@mapublichealth.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.

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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
system.

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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.

Full News Release

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…

Full Media Advisory

Anti-Hunger Policy Goals


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…

Full Press Release

2019 Open Letter to Legislative Leaders supporting PWTF

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