BOSTON (WWLP/SHNS) – Massachusetts House leaders announced late Wednesday that they are working to identify gaps in the state’s approach to COVID-19 in gateway cities and communities of color.
In a statement, House Speaker Ronald Mariano said he was aware of disproportionate COVID-19 impacts and in active conversations with Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz and members of the Black and Latino caucus “about the need to identify gaps in DPH implementation, vaccine outreach, and related communications in underserved communities.”
“I look forward to sharing additional updates as we work with House Members and our partners in the Senate,” Mariano said.
State Senator Jo Comerford, who represents the Hampshire, Franklin, and Worcester districts, in a statement, said the Baker admin, “has left the people of Hampshire and Franklin Counties high and dry and utterly disadvantaged as the Commonwealth heads into Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.” Read her full statement below:
With no mass vaccination sites and newly-announced limits on the number of vaccines being sent to local boards of health — compounded by an utter lack of public transportation in the region — the Baker Administration has left the people of Hampshire and Franklin Counties high and dry and utterly disadvantaged as the Commonwealth heads into Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
When seniors, ages 75 and above, in Hampshire and Franklin Counties woke up this morning to news that it was their turn to sign up, they had virtually nowhere to turn. Governor Baker must address this glaring liability immediately and commit to serving the people of Hampshire and Franklin Counties with the respect and fairness they need and deserve. The Baker Administration must open a mass vaccination site in Hampshire or Franklin County immediately and increase the number of vaccines available to existing outlets like local public health and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
A successful vaccine rollout, which — yes, depends, in part, on federal supply — also needs Governor Baker’s commitment to regional equity as well as a commitment to the resources necessary to address the overall pace of the rollout, the logistics around sign ups, and painstaking attention to reaching the most marginalized among us.
Massachusetts can and should do all of this, all at once. No excuses. And just like we fought for expanded testing in the region and our fair share of PPE, western Massachusetts will keep fighting for our fair share of the COVID-19 vaccine.State Senator Jo Comerford
The first mass COVID-19 vaccination site in the Springfield area is set to open Friday. The Baker administration hopes to have more vaccination sites across the Commonwealth in the near future.