August 18, 2021
Pressley Calls on Baker to Step Up Efforts to Reduce COVID Spread in Massachusetts and Save Lives
“It is incumbent upon all of us in government and your administration to do all that we can to prevent further suffering, trauma and loss, which means recognizing the important roles of masks and vaccines in protecting vulnerable residents,” wrote Rep. Pressley in her letter. “In this moment, Massachusetts requires leadership that is guided by science and centers the communities most impacted.”
“These numbers should serve as clear evidence that the Commonwealth’s current approach is inadequate in the face of the highly contagious delta variant and we must change course before it is too late,” Rep. Pressley continued. Resuming comprehensive data collection on who is contracting COVID-19. The Baker administration stopped reporting all of the necessary demographic data, including hospitalizations , at the exact same time the delta variant began infecting residents. Rep. Pressley urged the Governor to adopt science-backed reporting guidelines for residents of all ages, including cases in schools; Implementing a statewide school mask mandate that safeguards students, teachers, and communities from greater risk of COVID-19 infection. This would be in alignment with recent CDC guidance, recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and is supported by the Massachusetts Teachers Association; and Issuing COVID-19 vaccine mandates in high-risk settings such as hospitals, schools and prisons. The Governor recently issued a vaccine mandate for the state’s nursing homes, and there is growing support by educators and public health experts for requiring vaccination for all school personnel.
“I meant those words then, and I mean them now,” she wrote in her letter today. “Reducing the spread of the coronavirus should be considered the greatest priority, and I look forward to partnering with you to accomplish this goal.” In April 2020, she and Senator Warren led their colleagues in introducing the Equitable Data Collection and Disclosure on COVID-19 Act , legislation to require the federal government to collect and publicly release racial and other demographic data on COVID-19. The bill also would establish an inter-agency commission to make recommendations in real time on improving data collection and transparency and responding equitably to this crisis. Aspects of the legislation were included in an COVID-19 relief package signed into law later that month. In April 2020, Rep. Pressley urged Governor Baker to rescind the Commonwealth’s proposed Crisis of Care Standards that would have disproportionately harmed Black and Brown communities and the disability community. In March 2020, Pressley urged HHS to collect racial and ethnic demographic data on testing and treatment for COVID-19 to identify and address racial disparities. In June 2020, she introduced the Dismantle Mass Incarceration for Public Health Act with Reps. Tlaib (MI-13) and Barbara Lee (CA-13) to require decarceration to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails. Congresswoman Pressley also sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) calling on the agency to immediately release racial and ethnic data of Medicare beneficiaries who are tested or hospitalized for COVID-19. Congresswoman Pressley has also written to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking for HHS’s report on the administration’s efforts to address racial disparities in health care access and outcomes, as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). At the request of Congresswoman Pressley, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has agreed to investigate how COVID-19 relief funds have been distributed to disproportionately affected communities. In January 2021, Rep. Pressley sent a letter to Governor Charlie Baker calling on him to center the health and safety of Black and Brown communities in the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response and ongoing vaccination deployment plans. In February 2021, Rep. Pressley, Senator Warren, and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) reintroduced the COVID-19 in Corrections Data Transparency Act , bicameral legislation that would require the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the United States Marshals Service, and state governments to collect and publicly report detailed statistics about COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccinations in federal, state, and local correctional facilities.