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July 25, 2022

Pressley Leads Mass. Lawmakers in Call for Action Amid Monkeypox Outbreak

Massachusetts has one of the nation’s highest counts of
confirmed cases “It is critical that HHS rapidly increases
vaccine distribution, ensures equitable access, and engages
state and local leaders in a comprehensive public health
education campaign.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) led colleagues from the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation in calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to step up efforts to address the global monkeypox outbreak through preventative and equitable measures. Massachusetts currently has one of the nation’s highest counts of confirmed cases.

“The monkeypox outbreak is growing and threatening the health of our communities,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “In order to meaningfully stop the virus from spreading in Massachusetts and throughout the country, there must be an intensification in testing, vaccinations, and public health education and greatly improved data tracking.”

Data shows that the virus can and has infected people of all genders, ages, and sexual orientations. This disease is spread through contact or shared use of daily items.

“At this moment, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has the opportunity to execute a high-impact public health strategy that will protect people from the disease,” the lawmakers continued. “By teaming up with state and local elected officials, community organizations, and public health experts, you will be better equipped to protect at-risk individuals from monkeypox with a multilingual, destigmatizing, and culturally congruent strategy. Now is the time for aggressive action.”

The lawmakers urged HHS to ensure that hard-hit communities are prioritized for testing and vaccination and called on the agency to collect and disclose disaggregated demographic data—including gender identity, race, and ethnicity—to track whether those who need the resources are receiving them.

The letter was signed by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Representatives Katherine Clark (MA-05), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Jake Auchincloss (MA-04), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), and William R. Keating (MA-09).

To read the full letter, click here.

During her time in Congress, Rep. Pressley has been an advocate for comprehensive, accessible, and equitable public health care. She has led efforts in Congress to stop the spread of COVID-19 and require more robust data collection and reporting on the virus.

  • In March 2020, Rep. Pressley and Sen. Warren urged HHS to collect racial and ethnic demographic data on testing and treatment for COVID-19 to identify and address racial disparities.
  • In April 2020, Rep. Pressley, Sen. Markey, and Sen. Warren 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.
  • In April 2020, Rep. Pressley and Senator Warren led their colleagues 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.
  • 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 July 2020, Congresswoman Pressley and Senator Warren wrote 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).
  • In December 2020, at the request of Congresswoman Pressley and Senator Warren, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) agreed to investigate how COVID-19 relief funds have been distributed to disproportionately affected communities.
  • In January 2021, Rep. Pressley and Senator Warren applauded President Biden’s executive order to ensure an equitable pandemic response and recovery, which contained several provisions championed by the lawmakers.
  • In February 2021, Rep. Pressley, Senator Warren, and Senator Markey led your colleagues in re-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.
  • 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. 
  • In July 2021, Rep. Pressley and Senator Warren urged Governor Baker to continue reporting demographic data on COVID-19 hospitalizations.
  • In August 2021, with the new delta variant surging, Rep. Pressley called on Governor Baker to step up efforts to reduce COVID spread in Massachusetts and resume comprehensive data collection on who is contracting COVID-19.
  • In December 2021, with omicron surging, Rep. Pressley wrote to Governor Baker urging him to pursue a data-driven and holistic statewide plan to combat COVID-19 and to continue publishing comprehensive, disaggregated data on vaccination rates and COVID infection, including breakthrough cases.
  • In December 2021, Rep. Pressley and Sens. Warren and Markey wrote to CDC and HHS urging them to monitor, report, and address racial and other ethnic demographic disparities in breakthrough COVID-19 cases nationwide.
  • In January 2022, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08) sent a letter to the CDC urging it to publicly report findings on the prevalence of Long COVID, including disaggregated demographic data.
  • In late January, she held a virtual roundtable with healthcare providers, advocates, and patients on how to address the crisis of Long COVID.
  • In March 2022, Rep. Pressley led 23 of her colleagues urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to help ensure a just and equitable pandemic recovery by including robust, dedicated funding to support people struggling with Long COVID in a future coronavirus relief package.
  • In April 2022, Rep. Pressley led her colleagues in introducing the TREAT Long COVID Act, legislation to increase equitable access to medical care and treatment for communities and individuals struggling with Long COVID.
  • Earlier this month, Rep. Pressley secured report language  to require a report on the Effects of Long COVID on the Readiness and Retention of Servicemembers.