COVID-19 Response Priorities: Massachusetts Needs Consistent, Proactive Plan to Protect Public Health
The Delta variant is a public health risk all across our state, threatening lives and the hard-won progress we’ve made toward economic and social normalcy — yet the Baker-Polito Administration continues to hedge and pass the buck. It’s past time for a consistent, cohesive, proactive statewide response.
Right now, families are understandably scared to send their kids to school in a few weeks. Teachers and pediatricians alike have been urging the state to require masks to keep kids and the adults who care for them safe this fall. Workers and employers can’t access data to accurately understand risk levels in their communities and keep their workplaces safe. Local officials are being forced to make public safety decisions that affect whole regions.
Amid these conditions, the Baker-Polito Administration has taken an inconsistent, path-of-least-resistance approach to pandemic safety that seems to be based more in politics than in science — and puts the health of Bay Staters in jeopardy as a result.
This pandemic has shown exactly what happens when our leaders abdicate their responsibility and hope for the best. We need clear, consistent, proactive, and evidence-based action now to protect the health and safety of all our families and put Massachusetts on a secure path to recovery.
The Governor should immediately:
Require masks in our schools to protect students, teachers, staff, and parents — applying the same standard that the Administration has already been requiring in adult human-service settings. School districts should also be required to notify families of positive COVID tests in classrooms. Districts must also be allowed to provide remote learning options for students in quarantine.
Require masks in all public indoor spaces in line with CDC guidance.
Require vaccines for educators, health care workers, and congregate care providers as well as state employees.
Comply with legal requirements for data-tracking for all COVID-19 cases statewide, including key demographic and occupational data. The Baker/Polito Administration has never been in compliance with this law, even though Governor Baker signed it himself. The Administration must also comply with the overdue requirement to establish vaccine equity benchmarks.
Launch and sustain robust, multi-lingual, community-based, and creative engagement and persuasion campaigns for vaccinations and any needed booster shots. Recognize and marshal the unique expertise that artists have in designing and delivering resonant messages to people, hiring out-of-work artists to produce a new wave of vaccination messaging. These campaigns should meet residents where they’re at, employing trusted and diverse tactics to reach unvaccinated Bay Staters.
Initiate a public process to develop a vaccine credential system that advances public health and safeguards the privacy of all Bay Staters regardless of wealth or digital privilege. This public discussion is overdue — if we don’t start a process to develop this system, the private sector will likely produce a wild-west patchwork of systems without community input or oversight.