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August 11, 2022

Pressley, Moulton Lead Mass. Lawmakers in Calling on Baker to Declare Monkeypox Outbreak a Public Health Emergency

Massachusetts has one of the nation’s highest counts of confirmed cases “By declaring a public health emergency, you will have greater flexibility and more tools to enact a whole-of-government response.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-06) led their colleagues from the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation urging Governor Charlie Baker to declare the monkeypox virus (MPV) outbreak a public health emergency in Massachusetts.  Massachusetts currently has one of the nation’s highest counts of confirmed cases.

“By declaring a public health emergency, you will have greater flexibility and more tools to enact a whole-of-government response,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter. “There are more than 26,000 vaccines allocated to the Commonwealth, and it is important that you act quickly to prevent the MPV outbreak from escalating, including augmenting health care staff, expediting testing and vaccinations, and informing people on how to reduce their risk of infection.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 26,864 confirmed cases of MPV across the globe and more than 7,100 confirmed cases in the United States. Public health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, caution that these numbers are very likely an undercount and only represent the tip of the iceberg.

The lawmakers urged the governor to work in collaboration with experts and local leaders to ensure a holistic and timely statewide response that will address the needs of all community members.

“As a Commonwealth, we need to develop and execute a statewide plan, in partnership with experts and local leaders, that is comprehensive, equitable, and transparent,” the lawmakers continued. “The response to the coronavirus pandemic proved that delayed decision making will only exacerbate the outbreak and threaten the health of the public.”

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), Richard E. Neal (MA-01) and William R. Keating (MA-09).

Health care providers in Massachusetts have also endorsed the letter:

“We applaud our federal delegation for their leadership and for shining a spotlight on the need for bold action,” said Carl Sciortino, Executive Vice President of External Relations of Fenway Health. “Cases of monkeypox are growing, and we need swift and coordinated action at all levels of government, in partnership with our community and providers, to get ahead of this emerging public health emergency.”

“Our health center has seen a significant demand for services with the emergence of Monkeypox,” said Sandra Cotterell, CEO of the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester. “This is an important issue that requires all of us to be at the table. A statewide response will be critical for tackling this public health threat equitably and effectively.”

To read the full letter, click here.

Last month, Rep. Pressley led members of the Massachusetts delegation in calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to step up efforts to address the global monkeypox outbreak through preventative and equitable measures.

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.