The following letter was sent by the MA COVID-19 Response Alliance to Governor Baker, Senate President Spilka & House Speaker DeLeo.
May 1, 2020
Dear Governor Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka & House Speaker Robert DeLeo,
As you well know, Massachusetts has become a COVID-19 “hotspot,” with profound impacts of this crisis including a toll on our health, jobs, and safety statewide. We write to you today as Massachusetts COVID-19 Response Alliance (MCRA), a new coalition of community and labor groups representing some of the communities and families hardest-hit by this crisis. We have come together to advocate for a people-centered response to pandemic relief and recovery.
First, we would like to thank you for the actions you have taken to date to protect people, extend aid to the unemployed, and pass protections to help keep people in their homes at this difficult time. We know you have been working tirelessly in response to this virus and the impact it is having on the Commonwealth. We are especially encouraged by the recent passage of an eviction moratorium and the creation of unemployment insurance extensions, both adopted with support and input from tenant rights groups and labor unions.
Despite these achievements, we know you will agree that there is far more to be done in Massachusetts to ensure effective and equitable relief, as well as a recovery plan that will help everyone in our state. We are witnessing the devastating and still-unfolding impact of COVID-19, especially on communities of color, immigrant communities and workers in the hospitality, healthcare, transit and other industries. Some of the most troubling
- We are still in the middle of a weeks-long virus surge, with more than 62,000 confirmed cases and more than 3560 deaths.1
- Recent reporting indicates that the number of COVID-19 deaths in the Commonwealth may in fact be far higher.2
- There are dramatic disparities in COVID-19 rates across communities
- Per capita, rates among Latinx residents are more than three times that of White residents, while per capita cases for Black residents are more than two-and-a-half times that of White residents.3
- Environmental Justice communities – those with high percentages of people of color and low income people, and with high rates of pollution-linked respiratory diseases, like asthma – are being hit hardest by the virus.4
- Particular jobs and industries also pose disproportionate risk, and we have seen a severe impact on healthcare workers, grocery workers, transit workers, and those in other essential jobs.
- To date, a staggering 893,600 people, about 24% of Massachusetts workers have filed unemployment claims.5
- Some economists estimate that up to 30% of workers could be left jobless by this pandemic, a level of unemployment not seen even during the Great Depression.6
- The economic impact is unevenly distributed, with leisure and hospitality and healthcare industries hard hit.7
We are writing to you today because the toll of the virus has exposed deep, systemic needs and inequities in Massachusetts as elsewhere. To stem the suffering in our communities, we are committed to working for immediate and long-term responses to the crisis that
- Prioritize working families
- Advance racial justice
- Deepen democracy
- Invest in the public good
- Put people and communities before big corporations